18 December 2019

LET'S HAVE A CATCH UP



Sharing about mental health has always been something I have done on my blog; whether it's talking about coping strategies, difficult moments, unusual medical appointments (!) or amazing 'wins', there isn't anything that I shy away from discussing with you guys because I believe it is super important. Starting conversations about mental health is critical to helping it be viewed more clearly, through real eyes and real situations and I certainly intend to continue talking openly here about it as I always have done. (To see all my posts on mental health click here - keep scrolling down to find other posts!).

That said, I want to share something which, if I'm honest, I don't entirely know how to articulate, because it is a new one for me, but I will try to be clear and open in the hope that we can start a bit of a conversation or share advice in the comments or over on my Instagram, where things usually get discussed in DM's for anonymity, which is totally fine of course because I just want to support and help people where I can.

If you have been with me on From Lucy, with Love for a while you will know that my medication of choice has been Fluoxetine (a member of the Prozac family). I started taking it about seven or so years ago after hitting a very critical, low point in my mental health. Having tried other medications in the past, and feeling ill through side effects, I wasn't in a rush to go on to anything again and have always tried to manage things using other means (exercise, diet, meditation etc), but I knew I needed to reach out for extra help, and so Fluoxetine was offered to me. It kicked in fast and 'lifted the fog' enough to help me function in the world and actually smile again. I have been on the lowest dose ever since (only having two periods of time on an increased amount to get me through lower points).

This year, however, I made the decision to try coming off the medication. It was not an easy choice because I know how things get: suicidal thoughts, low moods, inability to function properly, confusion etc, but I wanted to just see how I could be without it. I am a huge believer in positive thinking and really didn't want to live in a 'what if' mindset, unless it was a positive 'what if it's different this time' one anyway! In all honesty, coming off medication was a terrifying concept; you know you are playing a waiting game because you don't know (and can't anticipate) how long the drugs will take to leave your system, and you are just waiting to see how you feel each morning. It's hard, but just because it is hard, it doesn't mean you shouldn't try it, so try it I did.

I didn't really tell anyone because I didn't want a fuss, not that many people knew I was even on it, and most don't 'see' my mental health issues anyway (because if you aren't rocking backward and forward in a corner you are okay right?!). I slowly started coming off it by alternating days and finally finishing altogether and, for a long time, I didn't feel any different at all so I started to think 'woo-hoo, I am cured baby!'. Sadly that isn't the case, but let's not feel bad about that!



The latest news is that I find myself stood at a crossroads again (hello old friend). Where, in years gone by, I would have jumped right back to medication when faced with the speeding cars and frustrated motorists, I now find myself allowing their wing mirrors to clip me and force me to have to steady myself and refocus again. Life is kind of feeling a bit of a blur around me again right now, but I have been mindful to continue with the things I used to find hard, because they were battles I had won on medication and I know I can do them, so I just do them.

What is different off the meds? I am back to full blown sensitive, emotional Lucy, which is pretty great in many respects because it is the real me, I just need to manage the things that come with that, the things that the medication covered up for me. I really didn't realise quite how much was being numbed if I am honest, but I now find myself back in 'sensitive town' and I am determined to managed that. Having spent the last few years on really deep self development I do feel more equipped to cope, but I think it is more about finding a new normal again.

My new normal or very old normal, pre-meds normal, finds it hard to cope with life. I struggle knowing that I can't help every single suffering animal in the world, that I can't run to the side of an elderly person in need every minute of the day, or be company for someone who is suffering and lonely. These things may sound over dramatic to you, but these are truly things that contribute to my every day mood. Off medication my mind is a whirl wind of thoughts and the medications slowed that down and allowed me to be a lot more rational. Being rational is the key to my happiness here I think. 

A while ago, someone said to me 'what would you tell someone else thinking/feeling the same as you are right now'; I thought about that and wrote something down recently, so here it is:

Be gentle with your emotions; just because you feel things deeply, it doesn't mean you are broken, it doesn't mean you need fixing. Sensitivity may be a hindrance sometimes, but it is also beautiful. Don't feel guilty for switching over those difficult charity adverts that show animals suffering, you can't help every single living thing in the world! The main thing is that you do your best every single day. You have rescued animals and given them good, loving homes, and there have been countless times you have picked up caterpillars or some other creature and moved them out of potential death by foot (and then worried about whether you had put them back where they had just travelled from!). You help people when you can, in the supermarkets or by talking to someone who looks alone and sharing a smile. You must learn to put down the heavy emotions, because continuing to carry all of them will lead to something breaking. Don't prevent your own happiness and growth through worry about situations you cannot control. You always try to do your best and that is enough.

I found that exercise useful because it enables you to step back and see a wider view of things outside your own head space, give it a try.

The New Year will be here soon and I will see how I am feeling day by day, knowing that I can always go back to medication if I need to, but I am really working hard to not have to, and it is really bloody hard guys. Wish me luck!

If you are in a similar position or want to share thoughts, please leave a comment or pop over to Instagram (I am @fromlucywithloveblog over there) and DM me for a little chat.

As always, please, please reach out to friends, family or professionals if you need support, don't try and be brave, just talk, I promise you with all my heart it will be okay. 

Lastly, don't ever just stop taking medication without speaking to the doctors as stopping without a plan can be dangerous to your health (mental and physical) so go and talk about it before taking action.

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