Entry 2: “Doctor, Doctor – I can’t stop worrying!”
The Anti-Anxiety strategy is under way! I have been to the Doctor and, for the first time, I have been honest about how I really feel; that I start every day feeling terrified! I’m not sure that I explained myself properly but I had to start somewhere! Dr B listened politely when I gave her a whistle-stop tour of my angst-ridden life but she seemed undisturbed, perhaps because I’m still alive, functioning and reasonably normal looking.
She reassured me that at my age (mid-forties) it is very common to suffer from depression and anxiety. I am staring menopause in the face it seems, and lots of women suffer the same emotional upheaval!
Did Dr B notice that my heart sank at this casual but crushing statement? Who said anything about the menopause? How does that explain my four-decade battle with anxiety – and one so bravely borne alone!! My word – if I’m already riddled with anxiety then what will happen when the menopause really does strike? I went to the doctor looking for help but now I have something else to worry about!
We discussed my ‘options’ and, in a flash, I decided that I was going for the hard stuff. I opted to try anti-depressants. I have considered taking them during the more fragile times in life but I have never quite managed to swallow them. Looking back, my stubbornness now seems like madness itself. I was happy to use animal puppets to express my fears during a memorable but useless appointment with an ‘art therapist’, but I have steadfastly refused to take anti-depressants. I have always been too scared to take them and, I admit, too ashamed to think that I might need them.
But not any more! Now I am desperate because I have nothing to lose and nothing left to try.
I leave the surgery clutching my prescription like it is the last Golden Ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! It’s a nice low dose for four weeks and then I am supposed to return for a review.
Well of course the first thing I do on arriving home with my prescription is to scan the leaflet for side effects. As with most medication it makes for a blood curdling read.
There is the irony (ie my anxiety medication may cause anxiety); there is the vague (I may feel ‘unwell’ while taking it); and there is the frightening (it may cause psychotic disorders). In all, there are over 50 potential side effects so I don’t take the first tablet at all; I need to mentally process the horrors which might await me the minute a tablet passes my lips.
After 24 hours I kept coming back to the same conclusion; unlike many other medicines the side effects do not warn of any direct fatal consequences and, with that in mind, I decide to live with the risks. I push the first tiny pill out from its foil lid and wash it down my throat.
I have been told that I might need to wait ‘several weeks’ to feel some positive difference but I don’t really understand this. If the side effects can kick in immediately then why not the benefits? Why is it that I might get a ‘dry mouth’ within 24 hours but be unable to chase the anxiety demons for over a fortnight. I won’t be disheartened though. A friend of a friend has recently started on the same medication and apparently she felt some euphoric rumblings within 24 hours. Was it just the placebo effect? And did it matter if it was?
Unsurprisingly, I don’t feel any different in the hours after taking the first tablet but I am a little apprehensive about going to bed. The leaflet of side effects mentions ‘nightmares’; the potential for ‘vivid dreams’ was also mentioned by both my Doctor and the friend of a friend who has been feeling good on this wonder pill.
I read a funny book and try to fill my head with humour. I get increasingly anxious about my potential nightmares and I try to stay awake as long as possible. Eventually, I am too tired to resist. I press myself up against Hubby and clutch his arm fully expecting that Freddy Krueger will be waiting for me the minute I drop off.
Next Week – “Keep Calm – it’s only the side effects!”