I’ve been taking the little white pills for, I don’t know, 5 years now, and I took the slightly larger yellow ones for about three years before that. I take them at night, even though the insert says to take them in the morning, because they make me sleepy- I guess turning off the hamster-wheel of insecurities and anxiety and constant background chatter actually lets my brain rest, which I had no idea it wasn’t doing, prior to the pill taking.
I’m at peace with the pill-taking (I even call them my crazy pills), mostly because once you start taking them, you know what the difference is. I still can’t quite fathom how I made it through the first twenty-odd years of my life without them, from a personal peace perspective, but on the other hand, I am fairly certain I would not have been able to be as good a student as I was in both high-school and college without the crushing anxiety (which, you must understand, I can only recognize as “crushing” from this vantage point- at the time, I thought it was normal) driving me.
There aren’t that many downsides to the pills (there are SEVERAL annoying side effects, but true downsides, like things that might make you stop taking them things, are few, for me personally), but the one I was least prepared for is the looking over your shoulder phenomenon. Anna wrote about it very eloquently here, and you should totally read that post, and then you can probably skip the rest of what I’m going to write, because it’s going to mostly be a poorly-worded version of the same thing.
Once I “fixed” my issue, I thought I was home free. There would never be another moment where making a difficult phone call would reduce me to tears, or when any slight change to the routine of life would send me into a tailspin of panic. HA HA HA- I was so naive then, back in the early days of the pill taking, when I really did think that they would be magic pills.
The first pills, the yellow ones, made everything flat. Sure, I was completely functional, but I didn’t care- no, worse. I didn’t give a fuck- not about you, not about your dying grandmother, not about much of anything. It all bounced right off me, and I didn’t even care about that. What I did care about was the 50 pounds I packed on as a result of the little yellow pills, which made me so disgusted with my personal presentation that any good the pills were doing was totally negated. I’ve never been skinny, but in late 2003 I was the fattest I’d ever been and the most miserable.
So I switched psychiatrists and eventually switched pills, and that summer was pretty miserable, because I, like a dumbass, thought that maybe I could forgo the pills altogether (the HUBRIS!). These new pills, the tiny white ones, the ones I will order by the ninety-count through the mail for what I suspect to be the rest of my life, are the ones. The right ones- all the hamster-wheel turning off capabilities without the numbing flatness. I can both make difficult phone calls and feel empathy for my fellow man! Hurray for the pharmaceutical industry!
These pills come with a downside though- the one Anna talks about- how every bad day, every hormonal surge, brings about a slight panic- am I plunging again? Are the pills still working? Do I need to page my psychiatrist? I’ve tried to taper my dose of pills at least once since I started taking them, most recently right before we tried to get pregnant. The little peek into my own “before” was all I needed to see that there was no way, no how, not a snowball’s chance in hell I was going to be able to live without the pills, and most certainly not during the hormonal circus of pregnancy.
So yesterday, I woke up crying. I couldn’t even articulate a reason- just a deep heaviness that made me all leaky and weepy, despite a gloriously sunny California day. All day, I blew my nose and wondered- is this it? Am I gonna have to try and fix this while gestating? If this really is the pills no longer working, am I going to have to grin and bear it for the next 5 months, because switching class C drugs mid-pregnancy is no joke? All day the questions circled and tumbled, and the wondering made me cry more, and it’s like I’m right back in it, all anxious and face-first in a bowl of ice cream.
This morning, of course, I’m back to “normal,” and the panic of yesterday seems silly and overblown. But it’s always there- is this temporary, or do I have to start all over again?