It’s been two months since I last wrote about my experiences weaning off Zoloft and living with anxiety, and I am thrilled to say that things seem to be going pretty great. It’s taken a while to get to a good place, but I finally feel like things are leveling out.
When we last saw my over-sharing self, I was a mess. I had completed the weaning process and was in the throes of both physical and mental withdrawals from the drug. I was pretty surprised at how long it lasted, to be honest, and it’s taken some distance from things to realize how hard I was being on myself for not rebounding instantly. I figured that once the physical symptoms – the “jolts,” the muscle pains, the vertigo – were gone, I’d bounce back to whatever normal version of me was in there.
I was so so wrong.
The physical ailments were the first layer of this process. The mental ones came to the spotlight immediately after. I was a wreck. Everything made me cry. Everything. No, really. You could look at me and TEARS. My stomach stayed in knots. Good news for the scale, not so good news for life. Things that would normally be a non-issue caused me to feel fear or anger in an irrationally high amount. And don’t even get me started with PMS that first month. WOW. I took it to teenage levels of rage and bitchiness.
On the flip side of the coin, when I wasn’t weeping or yelling at my husband, I uncovered a level of enthusiasm and excitement for life I hadn’t seen in a while. I was hugely moved by books and TV shows. I actively engaged with people in a way that was highly tuned in and involved. And the main purpose for this whole experiment, to increase my sex drive for the sake of my marriage … well, let’s just say the joy and enthusiasm has carried over to the bedroom. I’ll leave it at that, also for the sake of my marriage.
So the pendulum that is my emotional well-being was swinging wildly, and I didn’t enjoy it. I felt very unlike myself; very out of my own skin. Every time I would cry over a commercial or snap at my husband, I would think “GOD, WHO AM I???” I was beating myself up for the way I felt constantly, which — SPOILER ALERT! –only makes things worse. One night, I had dinner with friends, and they asked about my withdrawals. I started updating them and began tearing up OF COURSE, and became so embarrassed and apologetic. They both stopped me and said “why are you apologizing??? For crying? This is a BIG DEAL!” One friend went on to tell me about her experiences with severe anxiety over the years and how I needed to CUT MYSELF SOME DAMN SLACK because my body was going through some major changes.
And for the first time in weeks, I let out a sigh of relief.
Of course my body was still adjusting. Of course my emotions were all over the place. Of course feeling out of whack was not just normal, but ok. Perfectly, unperfectly ok. What did I expect? My brain is basically rewiring itself to deal with emotions and life without the padding of a drug. It might take a minute!
From then on, I began being kinder to myself. I owned my moments of big, loud feelings and just allowed myself to have them. If I was rude to my husband, I immediately apologized and worked to stop myself. If I teared up, I let it flow. And of course, felt so much better.
Now, almost three months since this whole process began, I think it’s safe to say I’m back to baseline. I don’t feel wildly unpredictable or uncomfortable in my skin. The anger, fear and anxiety have subsided, as have some of the wild joy and laughter. But that’s ok. I’m still adjusting to the new unmuffled me, which is how I am now viewing my emotions and thoughts. Unmuffled. Unprotected. Exposed.
I still tear up way more than I ever have, and am learning to accept that as a part of me. I’m trying to embrace tears as a visceral human reaction to life, not as a sign of weakness or cause for embarrassment. I occasionally run into situations that cause me anxiety, such as recently when discussing a somewhat painful part of my life with a dear friend, and during the conversation, my body trembled and I broke out in a cold sweat for the duration of the talk. I’m learning to love this part of me and not apologize for it. Because isn’t this how we should react? Isn’t this the beauty of humanity? Feeling and experiencing and embracing it all? I think it is, and I think it’s wonderful.