It’s been four weeks tomorrow since I took my last anxiety medication, and up until yesterday, I was feeling pretty good. My mood started to darken sometime around noon, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t snap out of it. I tried every cognative therapy trick in the book, worked out, soaked in the tub, and tried deep breathing exercises. Nothing was helping, so in the end: I drank.
I’ve actually been drinking a bit more than normal since I stopped taking my meds, but it didn’t occur to me that maybe I’ve been self-medicating. Each night I’ve been drinking anywhere from 2 to 4 drinks because it feels good and helps me sleep. I don’t get drunk, but I get buzzed enough to feel pretty darn good. This morning I woke up feeling worse than I did yesterday. Again, I tried to talk myself down; I kept telling myself to be mindful, but it wasn’t working. I cried on my morning run; I was irritable, angry, frustrated, sad, and hopeless. You have no idea how discouraged I felt — I really thought I was doing good without my meds.
When I got home from my run, I peeled my clothes off and stared at myself in the mirror. I hated what I saw looking back at me. My eyes travelled down my body, making note of every flaw, every inch of imperfection. I looked myself in the eye and screamed “I hate you.” The self-berating began; I couldn’t stop myself from the emotional beating I was inflicting on the hurting woman standing before me. Mental and physical exhaustion overwhelmed me and I crumpled to the floor. I didn’t want to be me anymore.
I pulled myself together as best I could. Getting dressed was the hardest part because I felt disgusting in my own body. Unsatisfied, I just picked something to wear, scrambled my way through the rest of my morning prep and left for work. At some point during my drive to work, a thought came to mind: could this be PMS? (sorry to my male readers). It seemed early, but I really couldn’t remember for sure when my last cycle was. This thought alone calmed me down. If this was PMS, it explained a lot. Even on anxiety medication I suffer from pretty bad PMS. My usual sypmtoms include bloating, increased appetite, and fatigue. My moods swings haven’t been this bad, but that makes sense considering I was on medication for “MOODS.”
When I got to work, I pulled out my journal to see when my last cycle was. Sure enough it was 21 days ago. I’m no longer as regular as I used to be; my cycles are anywhere between 24 to 28 days apart, so this is definitely PMS. With this knowledge I now have to make a decision. I did some research, and I found that some people take SSRI (anxiety meds) for the days leading up to their cycles to alleviate PMS or PMDD (premenstral dysphoric disorder). I still have a prescription for Wellbutrin, and I’m considering taking them for the next week. If I do, I will feel like a bit of a failure for not being able to stay off meds, but I don’t think I can handle the severe moodswings I’ve had over the last two days.
I have some thinking to do right now, but at least I know I’m not losing my mind. Whatever I choose, I hope I can forgive myself and remember that I am doing my very best.