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How I knew I needed to go back on Medication

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Eva Amurri shares how she knew she needed to get back on medication

One’s own mental health journey isn’t the easiest thing to speak about, especially publicly. While in recent years I’ve felt a lot more sisterhood with the many people who have come forward to normalize mental health struggles, it still can be a really isolating experience. The truth is that every person’s brain and brain chemistry is different, the triggers or root causes of mental illness can be so varied, and it’s nearly impossible to find a person out there who is walking a path exactly like ours. Mostly, I’ve learned that no matter what you think you know about a person, everyone out there is fighting some kind of invisible battle in their own way. While this would usually equalize the playing field, and help us to lean on our humanness in order to connect, the opposite can happen. Instead of a hand across the aisle, judgment can arise.

For me, my relationship with Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma has been lifelong. I began to unravel it in a serious way only a little over five years ago. Since then, I’ve leaned on an SSRI from time to time in order to help me catch my breath, achieve some grace, and do deeper work. While I’d not advocate medication in a blanket type way for “everyone”, I will say that it has most definitely saved my life over the years when times were extremely tough. Then, why is it sometimes so hard to see for myself that it’s time to choose it once more? Today I thought I would share some of the mental health warning signs I noticed in myself that showed me I needed to go back on medication. I’m not a doctor, and definitely not a mental health expert, but I hope that by sharing my own experience it can somehow help somebody else out there in need!

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I got off of meds for the second time almost two years ago, a decision which was the right one at the time, and which was successful almost immediately. It was nice to take a break and to explore the deeper corners of some of my anxiety from a really strong and settled place. Then, this past year hit me like a ton of bricks. There were not only some of the biggest challenges that crossed my path but they were combined with times of extreme exhaustion and relentlessness in my role as a Mom. I was stretched thin in every way I could imagine. I learned a lot about the people and things I want in my life…and the things and people I do not. I had health challenges, and so did some people very dear to my heart. By the time “The Tripledemic” hit our communities between Halloween and Christmas, I didn’t have much more rope left to hold onto. But I had to! All Moms did, as we guided and comforted our families through one of the craziest cold and flu seasons in history.

Throughout all of this, I was trying my best to cycle through all of my best, healthy coping mechanisms for my anxiety. Therapy, my amazing and loving boyfriend, and the lessons learned through experience were all helping me stay on track. But as I became more exhausted and tapped out, those all started slipping. I noticed during our relentless months of family sickness that the way my anxiety was manifesting felt really unfamiliar and from an old manner of relating. I would cycle in and out of “what if” catastrophe-type thinking. If one of my kids coughed, threw up, or woke up stuffy, I would feel an immediate Fight Or Flight rush of blood come through my body and my heart would race as I anticipated the hard days ahead of us.

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I stopped taking care of myself. Any exercise I was sticking to totally went out the window. I stopped wanting to cook healthy and delicious meals, and would just eat whatever was easiest and closest. While I used to love waking up an hour before my kids in the morning to get some Me Time in, I stopped setting my alarm and would groggily wake up when the kids came in. I dropped interest in taking my own vitamins and keeping up with my other healthy habits. My sex drive dwindled. I lost weight.

I also noticed that my patience became close to zero with my kids. I’m usually a super patient Mom. I have my moments, of course, but I normally feel like I can calm myself down even when my kids are acting like monsters. I noticed that little annoyances with the kids would start to set me off. I would ask nicely one time, and then by the second time I would have to ask, I’d find myself yelling. If the kids would want to snuggle with me or play with me, I found myself drawn inward, not really wanting to be touched or cuddled. The small, everyday moments of connection with my kids that normally really warm my heart weren’t having as deep of an emotional impact. In short, I felt disconnected and impatient.

I have really deep abandonment issues, and a lot of times when I feel sad or anxious, and I’m NOT processing in a healthy way, I self-isolate. Sometimes it can be in the smallest of ways…like not writing back to text messages from my friends right away, or not welcoming comfort from loved ones when I’m in need. I’ll push away even if I’m really in need of the help being offered. At its essence, the fear I have that nobody will WANT to help me at my lowest points makes me turn away first so that I can’t get hurt. It’s been a really challenging thing to unlearn, and something I still have to work on.

I started to notice that I was retreating and self-isolating, and in those moments I was telling myself a pretty bleak story about my life. I felt like the shine just wasn’t there, that the future wasn’t going to be that great, and that whatever hope I had for the things that mattered to me was gone. The bad had started to outweigh the good in my own mind.

Now, one extremely important thing that my mental health journey has taught me is that this whole negative line of thinking is a huge fucking lie. Because of my experiences, and because of the amazing people in my life, I know for a FACT that life is full of beautiful things, that magic is always possible, and that every person has at least one thing to be grateful for every single day. But it’s amazing what our minds can do to convince us otherwise. When I started to realize that my brain chemistry itself needed a little reset, I knew that it was time to go back on medication and give my struggle a rest.

Going back on the meds hasn’t been the easiest process, and it has gotten a little worse before it gets better. I’m nauseous constantly as my serotonin levels adjust, and I’ll have much more acute panic responses to stress as my levels even out. I’ve had to be really gentle with myself the past few weeks as I figure out what this next round of medication is going to be all about. But, I’m starting to see some really positive changes. Mostly, the act of surrender and acceptance has helped me to get some grace back into my life, especially when it comes to how I deal with myself and my hope for the future.

Anxiety and Depression medications aren’t magical pills that take all your problems away. They’re tools to use alongside other changes to help reset and support your mental wellness. I’m really looking forward to the breathing room I’m creating for myself to find the sense of peace I know I deserve this year. Sometimes life catches up to us, and that’s ok. It’s all a learning process and a marathon. Not a sprint. I really hope that anybody out there reading this and struggling knows that they’re not alone, and that help is out there. Asking for help can be the hardest step, but it can be the first one in a really beautiful journey if you let it!

 


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Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2023 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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7 Comments

  1. Kara says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have anxiety and ADHD and it got really bad recently. Thankfully, it is getting better as I’ve settled from an unexpected break in meds. Mental health is such an important topic to discuss!!

    01.16.23 Reply
  2. Kelly says:

    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. I and I’m sure many others can relate!

    01.16.23 Reply
  3. Catherine says:

    I’m right there with you! I was on medication after my first born having had severe PPD (though I suspect depression and anxiety has been creeping up on me since before). I got off when my youngest turned 2. I was managing with rest and exercise and outside time but suddenly it crept back up on me slowly like the frog being boiled to death. I stopped eating because that is my response to stress. Then I jsut slept all the time when my kids were at school. Either due to no fuel in my body or depression who knows. My patience with my kids went to nothing. I didn’t want to be touched by anyone. I shut out, and subsequently lost a friend who refused to contact back after I came around. Suddenly I thought to myself this isn’t me and this isn’t right. So I got back on my meds. This time I gave myself the freedom to know it’s okay (versus previous times of feeling like I should be able to handle it) and I’m a better mom and wife. I’m still trying to get acclimated but I think I’m getting there. It’s hard and I feel your pain. The hardest part for me is not finding the joy in my kids or partner. One thing I can say is my boys are becoming very emotionally intelligent. Because for every temper lost and screaming session, there is an apology. I read that is more important than not losing your shit on your kids. And when I’m sad my boys tell me I can go take a bath or a nap…they will make good spouses/partners one day 😂

    01.16.23 Reply
    • Alexa says:

      Catherine, it’s important that your boys are also allowed to be children and that you don’t parentify them based on your depression/anxiety (or your yelling). They are not there to assuage you or make your mental health better. They are their own autonomous, thinking, feeling selves who need to be held, heard, and loved for who they are, not the role they play for you or a future spouse, as you put it.

      01.17.23 Reply
  4. Jade says:

    Thank you so much for sharing parts of your mental health journey. It definitely helps other moms feel like they aren’t alone. The part about not enjoying those moments with your children and pushing people away especially resonated with me.

    01.16.23 Reply
  5. J says:

    Brava—what a beautiful and helpful post. Your honesty, vulnerability and bravery is inspiring. ♥️

    01.17.23 Reply
  6. Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I needed it today.

    01.17.23 Reply