Adventures in Therapy: Wherein Things Get Real

I woke up on Saturday morning excited. I had big plans for late in the morning.  I was finally going to see a psychiatrist about getting some medication to help me.

A few months back I was talking to a friend about how open I am about myself and everything that’s going on with me on the internet. Zie didn’t like the idea of having so many profoundly personal details about hirself documented in the public sphere.  Once it is out there, it never goes away.  In the internet age, anyone can find you with a simple Google search and they will know everything that you share and will judge you for it.  In the era when employers search people’s lives for potential dirty laundry before choosing the best candidate, the dirty laundry they see is the items you choose to hang out in the air.

I had mentioned that in a recent recorded interview, I admitted that I had started therapy.  My friend said that he never would have admitted that because then it’s there forever.  And while the comments stayed with me for a long time, filling me self doubt and fear that I have done everything wrong and that my choices to be so ridiculously honest and open about my trials and tribulations, interests, beliefs, and relationships in the world where everyone could see with a couple of simple key strokes are putting my family and me at undue risk, I stood fast.  I’ve already shared so much…what’s one more thing.  What harm is there now putting a face and voice to the next adventure in both living a life less ordinary and a life very ordinary for people all over the world.

The psychiatrist’s office was in a lovely part of Jersey, nestled between a couple of farm fields.  It was a calming and beautiful.  I was already happy to be there and I was happy to be taking a very big step towards finally being well.  The doctor was pleasant and caring.  She asked a million questions to really get to the bottom of what I struggle with every day.  At the end, after listening to me closely, she gave me a prescription for Zoloft with instructions and warnings.

I left feeling positive, feeling like I made the right direction.  I need more help than just talk therapy.  I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but if I don’t listen…if I constantly have to fight waves of difficult emotion and anxiety, the conversation with myself can’t be productive.  And I had grown tired of walking on eggshells around myself when I felt an unsettled simmering beneath the surface.  And I had grown tired of being overwhelmed, with losing control, with being disinterested in anything I used to really like doing.

I filled the prescription and got my hair cut short.  I went home and dyed my hair red.  New stage, new costume.  The next morning I took half a pill and went to visit my parents.

I was not prepared for such immediate effects.  By Sunday afternoon, I felt in a haze.  I was numb and though I was angry about something that had happened, I wasn’t having a complete break down over it as has been the norm as of late.  These effects grew stronger as the evening progressed and by the time we threw a movie on I felt stoned.  I fell asleep during the movie, like I do, and then after it was over, I bolted awake.  I was completely awake and alert and completely anxious.

And so I was for the whole night.  I don’t know when I actually slept.  I laid awake in bed trying to calm myself down but doing a lousy job of it.  Poor Wes had to endure me tossing, turning, weeping, going nuts.  I was thinking obsessively about a few things and got myself completely whipped up into a tizzy and finally after writing an email I kind of wish I didn’t, I calmed and sat quietly in bed.  I think maybe a got a couple of hours, but I have no idea. My alarm went off and I was already awake.  I cried and Wes said he would take me to work.  I got to work feeling the effects of the second half pill settling in.  I sat at my desk, feeling an odd numbness, but it was not impenetrable to outside stressors.  I encountered one and for an hour did not know if I would be able to stay here for the day.  But it passed and I am still hanging in.

It is only Day Two and I am committed to at least giving this a fair shot.  Friends have told me that it can take a couple of weeks for things to even out.  The doctor said that it takes 4 weeks to really start working.  So I will be patient.  After having some issues today, I guess I am not much worse off than I already was, but this time I know that there is something at work chemically trying to set me right.  It may not be the correct ingredient, but I can’t know until I test and observe.

This is hard.  This is scary.  This means that I have to put some things to the side so that I can get my brain in order so that I do them well and happily.  Even though I feel completely bizarre right now, I find peace in the fact that I am taking steps to tackle this in a real, concrete, lasting way.  Good brain chemistry facilitates an environment where rational, productive discussion can happen and there is nothing wrong or embarrassing about taking that step.  There is nothing stranger about handling this like handling a case of gout. When you have a chronic issue, you treat it.

And so it is out in the world and no one is worse for it.  I look forward to finding some balance in my mind so that I can finally fully appreciate this amazing life I have built.  I am so tired of seeing it through a fog.

8 thoughts on “Adventures in Therapy: Wherein Things Get Real

  1. Congratulations. Whatever your journey may become, I applaud you taking steps (such as we know as a species) to correct what you feel is wrong. I see 350lb people eating fast food and some 350lb people in the gym – I feel good about the latter, sad about the former. I wish you good fortune and calm days.

  2. @myatheistlife – thank you for the sentiment, but please refrain from body size shaming in your comments. We try to promote body size acceptance, and see nothing wrong with someone weighing 350 lbs, or with people of any size eating fast food if that’s what they want to do.

  3. Zoloft and I did not get along, but I know many people who do just fine on it. Listen to your body, it’ll know what’s right or wrong! And yeah, time will make a difference.

  4. I agree the most important thing is that you are taking steps to try and fix things. Whether this is the right step or not, as long as you keep looking, you’ll find it eventually.

  5. Gina, I always love your posts, but the ones chronicling this journey are especially excellent. I hope you make a book out of this story one day. There are so many elements of the life you’ve made and the things you are doing now to enjoy it that would really help people.

  6. Zoloft saved my my sanity and my relationships a few years ago- it helped my brain chemistry stabilize enough so I could spend time and energy working through some pretty big issues that I’d ignored for a long time instead of using all my energy to drag myself out of bed. I’ve been on and off anti-depressants several times since I was in high school. My personal experience is that the side effects are at their worst for the first 2 weeks, and lessen as my body adjusts to the dosage. I start seeing mood improvement around week 4, but don’t usually get full effects for about 7 or 8 weeks. Good luck, and if you ever want someone to talk meds or “is this normal or I am a total weird freak?!?!” stuff with, drop me an email. Congrats on taking this step, and I hope the worst of your side effects fade soon.

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