‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.’ Ministry

So I’m laying in bed thinking about my panic attacks

Crying

Hot frustrated tears

Because even still

I just can’t wrap my head around the why

If I know that my fears are unfounded

That I won’t spontaneously ‘go crazy’

And that I’m safe

That my panic attack won’t last forever

If I have evidence to prove that as well

Then why in the actual fuck am I still having these ridiculously soul wrenching panic attacks?

The kind that exhaust me

Leaving me crumpled in bed

Sleeping in an Ativan induced stupor

It seems that I have all the knowledge and the tools

Necessary to overcome all of this

And yet

Here I am

Terrified still

Of not just being in a state of panic

But of simply having another panic attack

Ugh

I want to beat my head in exasperation

So many years later

Having survived innumerable panic attacks

Fearless in the face of meeting the boogeyman

Unafraid of being awakened by things that go bump in the night

Completely confused

Why I’m still tormented by the threat of another panic attack

And yet somehow it seems perfectly fitting

That the only thing that could truly terrify me

Is my own fucked up mind

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Project Take Down Paxil 👊

I feel like I should apologize for being MIA lately

But I’m not really sorry

Because it’s for a good reason

It’s for me

Last Wednesday I dropped my Paxil dosage from 40mg to 30mg

I won’t pretend I was totally cool with it

I had a lot of reservations

But I also really wanted to do it

There were some shitty days obviously

Two days when my anxiety spiked to an uncomfortable level and I needed to take more Ativan

Several days where I had dizzy spells that came and went

But I survived

I can tell the following things helped:

Writing affirmations daily

Trying to stay busy

Doing a lot of introspection over the root of my anxiety

Now today I went down to 20mg

Last nite I was really starting to psych myself out of doing this

I kept thinking ‘woah 20 is a big drop from 40’

Then J. reminded me that I was going from 40mg to 20mg

I’ve been on 30mg and am stable there

Now I’m dropping 10mg again

Which I successfully did last week

I needed to hear that

It helped ease my fear

I made him write it out so I could print it

I’ve already reread it a few times

Along with some other affirmations

I need to keep reminding myself that I’ve already dropped 10mg and while unpleasant

I survived it

I’m still safe

I’m still here

And most of all

If I did it once

I CAN most certainly do it again

Changing the narrative helps

Taking the unknown and making it something familiar

Removes the fear

For anyone else out there struggling with anxiety

If I’ve got this

You’ve got this

Hard and uncomfortable as it is

We have what makes people into warriors

I’m going to remember all of the difficult things I’ve been through in my life

I’m scrappy

I am a fighter

Think of everything you’ve survived

I hope you keep fighting

Because I will too

That’s what warriors do

‘Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.’

All I can see is the empty space where my ‘motivational’ affirmations once hung

All the words I thought I’d need to get me through this dreaded Paxil withdrawal

Now discarded and out of my face so I don’t see the glaring reminder of another failed attempt

But it’s likely I didn’t stand a chance even before I started

I hadn’t had a full blown panic attack in a long time

Until today, that is

All week I felt it coming

Making me irritable and antsy

But I proceeded forward with my Project Paxil Taper

Each day I told myself I didn’t feel worse

I didn’t feel anxious

It was fine

I was fine

But I was lying to myself

I don’t know if it was the anticipatory anxiety that got me or the effects of decreasing Paxil

I don’t think I’ll ever know

I reached out to professionals

Asking for help and support in this withdrawal process

But again and again I was met with lack of resources and ambivalent sympathy

Today it was too much

I closed the blinds in the condo

Tried to distract myself with audiobooks and tv and music and extra long hot showers

And all the while I could feel it’s suffocating grip on me getting stronger and stronger

Making it harder to think and breathe

I laid in bed and tried to utilize the skills I’ve been taught

But none of them worked

My stomach hurt

I felt nauseous

I could feel the grip getting stronger as I grew weaker

Clammy and sweaty and cold

My headache hurt like it did all week long

And then when I couldn’t hold it off anymore

It overpowered me (like it had done so many goddamn times before)

And just like that

I felt helpless all over again

Like the fucking victim I never wanted to be

I took more Ativan to help it go away faster

Joey was home and tried to quell the rising panic

And the crying

All the fucking crying

But nothing works

My crying louder and harder to breathe

The only thought clear in my brain

Is how this is never going to stop

I will always be at war with myself

My natural instinct is fucked up and no matter how many times I’ve tried it just doesn’t change

It doesn’t matter how tired or how many good days, weeks or months I have

When I’m at my weakest

It rears it’s ugly head

And I’m powerless to defeat it

So all this bullshit warrior can do is cry

Not in sadness

But with pain that comes from deep within me

Because I know

That at the end of the day

Not even 4mg at a time

Not even with support

Not even with CBT and all the other therapies

That I still can’t beat this

It won’t matter if I cover my body in quotes and reminders

It won’t matter how much I want this change

How determined I am

All that matters is that I’m still so afraid of my own goddamn mind

I’m afraid of the panic it can conjure all by itself

The derealization, the depersonalization, the heart racing, nausea, can’t breathe feelings that come at me full force

And I just can’t see, no matter how hard I try (and trust me I so badly want to see it)

A time in which those feelings are not a part of the landscape of my life

And that is the most terrifyingly hopeless thought I have ever had

My doctor said to me on Monday he could see a happy ending after all of this is said and done

I won’t lie, I carried that home with me and placed it under my pillow and wished on it every night since

But not everyone gets the happy ending that they want

Maybe this really is as good as its ever gonna get…

The task is in deciding if that will ever be enough

Maybe, just maybe…

I’ve started Project Taper Paxil on Sunday

I worked myself into a frenzy anticipating what might happen

I took an extra Ativan to get some peace

I saw my doctor yesterday and he reminded me that I could have put off starting Project Taper Paxil for another week

But I didn’t

Evidence to support the theory that I’m stronger than I think

The doctor mused that it’s been a tough year for me

I guess it has, hasn’t it?

I can pretty much unequivocally say this is not where I thought I would be at this point of my life

At 36 years old

I had hoped for something very different

And that’s even with several revisions

But what do you do when that path leads you to a dead end?

If you’re like me,

You might spend too much time retracing your footsteps over and over again

Trying to figure out how you got it so damn wrong

Did you miss a turn?

Did something lead you astray?

Or were you just unlucky enough to end up on that path to nowhere?

If you’re like me,

You don’t have answers to any of those questions

But you just can’t fathom starting all over again

Finding a new path to walk

Wishing that this new path will be the right one

Hoping that it won’t become another dead end

But

Maybe this time you won’t care about the destination

But

Maybe this time you’ll be content with the journey

And

Maybe this time it will be exactly what you needed all along

And

Maybe, just maybe

You’ll be happy

At last

Nobody told me

Nobody told me ten years ago

In the middle of a crisis of my mind

That the miracle pill I was being prescribed

That the pill which was so hard getting used to

Would be worse to get off of

Would be compared to heroin to withdraw from

I’m on 40 mg of Paxil and have pretty much been on that dosage for the last ten years

I’m pretty sure that for the last 5plus years that my continuing to take it, does little else but keep me from getting sick

A year ago a psychiatrist recommended I wean off of it and try something else

I panicked

I never went back

I know it’s the right thing to do of course

I know my anxiety won out

Despite that I’ve been able to get a really firm handle on managing my anxiety disorder

Certain situations make the anxious thoughts and sensations come back with a vengeance

The flu

Being intoxicated

Certain medications and side effects

And the thought of weaning off Paxil

Not because I’m a firm believer in the drug

But because I am so fucking scared of losing myself again

It was so awful once upon a time to be afraid of my mind

To be afraid to be alone with my thoughts

To not trust myself

And yeah the Paxil isn’t improving my mood

But I feel like me

Granted a heavier sweatier me

But that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind

Literally

But I went back to the aforementioned doctor yesterday

And explained why he never saw me again and my fear of the withdrawal process

When voicing these concerns, he recommended contacting a Compounding pharmacy

The compounding pharmacy can create capsules that would allow me to reduce Paxil in smaller increments

Say for example by the rule of 10% drop, so 4 mg at a time

Maybe for a week or two

The process will take longer but the goal is to minimize the negative side effects associated with Paxil withdrawal

I contacted some compounding pharmacies and they can do that

For a cost of course

But peace of mind you know…

I am supposed to call the doctor and let him know what I have found and decided

But instead I obsessed and allowed my anxious thoughts to run wild

With all the what if’s and worse case scenarios

So here I am now 24 hours after seeing the doctor

I’ve had to take an addition Ativan to blanket my anxiety

I’ve made no concrete decision

And as long as I continue to avoid the decision

My anxiety will remain at bay

And I know that’s not an answer

Just another avoidance

And I’ll tell myself it’s for the best

And my anxiety-addled brain will believe me

Until…