Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Lost Month

As many of you know, 2011 has not been a kind year. We had many losses, chief among them my father-in-law, Dan. Dan, was diagnosed with cancer around January of this year. He passed away on June 30th, not even six months after his diagnosis.

During his illness, we drove down to help out as much as we could. My husband would spend a week and telecommute while I held down things at home. Sometimes I would spend a week while he was at home. We rotated the majority of our visits.

The service was in mid-July. We wanted time to arrange something nice. The weekend after the service was our daughter's wedding. Life didn't start approaching what I would call a normal schedule until the beginning of August. That was when we started preparing the kids for the new school year.

August was flying by pretty fast. I had started trying to eat mostly gluten-free and vegan. I was also getting ready for my very first 5K. I felt great! Then around the end of August, I started having trouble breathing. It was only around bed time and I knew it was anxiety.

I have dealt with anxiety before. It generally lasts about a week. I re-filled my Ativan but they didn't work. So I went to the doctor. She gave me a prescription for generic Zoloft and Klonipin. The Klonipin wasn't working and my breathlessness now lasted all day long. The Zoloft, after about five days, turned me into an angry, raging, and still non-breathing monster. I discontinued the Zoloft.

Not being able to breathe was literally the only thing I could focus on. I would get up in the morning wondering if maybe today would be the day I was able to breathe. Within a few hours or sooner, it became apparent it was going to become another day of feeling like I was gasping for breath.

Driving was a nightmare. I was sure when I was driving through a parking lot, somebody was going to back into me. When I was driving on the freeway, I knew somebody was going to pull into my lane. My depth perception felt skewed. Unless I absolutely had to go somewhere, I didn't drive.

We were also planning a vacation at the end of September. Since we hadn't vacationed during the summer, we needed the break. I was looking forward to getting away and hopefully relaxing.

My mind wouldn't stop racing. I had so many things to do. I was losing hours. I would look at the clock and it would be 8:30 am. I would look up a bit later and it would be 11:00 am. A simple trip to the grocery store seemed to take hours. The only thing racing seemed to be my thoughts. My body certainly wasn't getting anything done! I knew what chores I needed to do but the information wasn't traveling from my brain to my body. Not only were important things going undone, I was suffering from a bad case of CRS. (can't remember $hit) I mixed up our vacation days and did the paperwork for a week's worth of independent study for my daughter. Then I had to apologize to the school because I had given them the wrong dates.

My mother-in-law came up early and helped me get ready for Tahoe. This is a good thing since I couldn't get anything done. The only thing I seemed capable of doing was searching the internet for ways to breathe, none of which worked, and talking out loud to myself A LOT.

I hoped to be able to breathe by our vacation. I didn't get my wish. Things got worse. The doctor prescribed Xanax the day before we left. I also was told to make an appointment with a counselor who takes my insurance. She couldn't get me in until October, which is pretty common with an HMO.

The vacation was okay, but the Xanax didn't work either. One morning I desperately took a whole day's dose, hoping to get some relief. It didn't work but I did have a very long nap later. My husband and I argued more than a few times, mostly because I would forget conversations we had. In fact, I had conversations with friends during that month that I can't remember.

After we came home, things became worse. I know it's not politically correct to say this, but I went nuts. I was manic. My arms were twitching. I couldn't sit still. I had insomnia. Our bed felt like a stone slab. One day my car battery was dead and I needed to borrow my husband's Jeep to go to the store. It is a stick shift. I forgot how to back it out of the garage. I was petrified to try to back it out of the garage. I was convinced I would hit something.

My doctor had called in a Paxil prescription. The generic makes me depressed so I needed to pick up the name brand. The pharmacy didn't have any in stock so I purchased an herb called 5-HTP. I started on that, some B-complex, and some vitamin D. Within five days, I was starting to feel a bit better - still off but better.

I started receiving acupuncture from a friend. I still am. It is helping a lot.

My therapist suggested something called tapping. It helps sometimes.

It is still hard to visit with friends. I always second guess myself after the conversation and wonder if I said something offensive. Perhaps I am saying offensive stuff. I go between being Eeyore-like about the economy to flat out angry and wanting to throw politicians off cliffs.

I am definitely depressed. The breathing issue comes and goes. Slowly, I am digging out and things will get better. I know they will. However, I'm not sure I will be myself for a few more months, maybe longer. I don't like myself very much. Here is hoping my friends and family aren't feeling the same. Here is hoping they are willing to bear with me, and here is to feeling like myself again soon.