It has been such a long time since I’ve written a post on here. So much has happened in that time and right now my life couldn’t be more different than it was a couple of years ago. I started my novel but for some reason, recently I have been lacking in confidence in my writing, especially since I am no longer writing as part of my current job. So, I decided to get back on the horse. Come back to my safe place, my blog.
Is it a Magical Pill?
A change that I feel I needed to share right now, is that after years of feeling hopeless, anxious and down, I have finally taken charge of my emotions. In the past I wrote about how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helped with my Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) but unfortunately it gradually got worse again. It was all consuming, I was out of control and I felt so alone. It is impossible for people to understand this phobia, I didn’t understand it and I was living through it so how could I possibly expect anyone else to. Ultimately, I have severe anxiety which often channels itself through emetophobia, if that makes sense. So Emetophobia, while being the outlet, is not the real problem. It is me feeling out of control and the way I dealt with this was to try to claw back some control and sadly that meant only half living a life.
A few months ago, when the panic attacks had become more frequent than ever, I decided I simply couldn’t go on like this anymore and visited the doctor. The doctor said she felt that I should try therapy and medication together. It was just before I was about to go away so she advised me to think about it. I went home and cried big ugly tears. Since I was 19 years old and my dad left my mum, the doctors have been offering me medication to help me. Every time in the past I had said no, but I knew the reason I was crying was because this time I couldn’t say no. Fear of not just the stigma of taking them but the effects they might have on me, had always stopped me. I feared becoming a zombie or them making me feel sick. I was scared I would no longer be me, that I wouldn’t recognise myself. However, this time I feared what would happen if I didn’t take them, because I was moving further and further away from the real me. I was angry, anxious, scared and I felt like I was driving people away because they could no longer see me, my kindness was overshadowed by irritation.
I said yes to the doctor but when she started telling me about the potential side effects in the first few weeks I asked her to stop. She printed them out instead as she said I needed to be aware of the more serious ones. I collected my Prozac from the pharmacy and left them in a paper bag in my bedroom. I still wasn’t ready, I was making excuses, putting it off. My fear again getting the better of me. Five days later I took the plunge. I remember my heart racing as I swallowed the pill. I lay on my bed looking up at the ceiling and waited for something to happen. Nothing happened until later in the day when I was so exhausted I could hardly speak. The first few days I slept a lot, but my sleep was light, not like the deep sleep I was used to. Gradually there was a shift in me. I became calmer, less irritated and the thing that really surprised me, was my sudden desire to get out, be adventurous, try new things.
In the first six weeks I jumped in the swimming pool (I had not jumped in for a year), went ziplining, kayaking and paddle boarding on the lake, cycling on the beach and jet skiing in the sea even though I am scared of the water. Every new adventure gave me a sense of achievement that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. I always knew my problems were affecting my family but until I saw how much things changed I don’t think I ever really understood the full extent. One day we went to the lake, I’ve been in the lake but never really swam in it. This time I said to my kids ‘I’m going to swim out to the buoys’, my son, who is often scared, asked if he could come with me, so we swam together. This was a momentous occasion for both of us and I am so happy that we did it together. Knowing that I am always scared but was going to do it, made my son feel that it was suddenly achievable for him. Completely unprompted my daughter said to my husband and I, ‘mummy is so adventurous these days don’t you think?’. I felt like I was going to burst with pride because for the first time in my life I felt like I was being seen as someone to be admired instead of the one who never wants to do anything, holding everyone else back.
Is it a magical pill? I don’t think so, I think that it was necessary for me at this stage and it was one of the many steps I had to take to start feeling better. I have also been having therapy and have managed to prioritise being healthy by exercising and eating healthy, which I also believe plays a huge part in the road to mental wellness. I am lucky enough to be on a very low dose of Prozac, but I understand that for some people it doesn’t work, or the side effects are unbearable. For me the only side effect is tiredness and once you have lived through the early years of having two children less than two years apart, you can cope with a bit of tiredness. It is worth it because now I am more able to live my life to the full. I’m not cured, I still have those voices in my head but now I am able to switch them off most of the time. Not all the time, and honestly there have been times where I felt I have gone backwards, maybe I’ll tell you about that another time. Right now, I have hope, something I had almost entirely lost, so I am feeling positive. I am sharing my story in the hope that it will encourage others to get help and not be afraid of what people may think.
Well done for speaking up, Helen. Being brave enough to seek help is tough to do, so it’s heartening to hear the positive changes that are happening for you and your family as a result.
It’s also lovely to read your blogs again; you’re such a talented writer and I look forward to one day being able to read your novel. For now, big hugs, good to have you back xx
Thank you so much, it feels good to be back! X
Great post. I don’t think I wrote for eight months – during the period if my mum’s death. I just couldn’t. Have started writing again and, having had that break, my plot line felt so much clearer. It turned out to be a good thing. At some point I need to pick up my blog again, especially as I’m enjoying cooking again. Great inspiration from you, as always. Xx
I can’t imagine how hard it’s been for you and you really do have to be in the right frame of mind to write. Good luck with the novel and I’d love to see you back blogging too x