Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three mornings ago...I woke up. Yup, you heard me...I woke up...and it was amazing (This is the part where you think, "Um, duh Jody! I woke up too."). But, in order to wake up, you have to fall asleep. And I hadn't slept in weeks. The physical and emotional stress of this insomnia came to a head on Tuesday, May 1st. It was my 30th birthday and it was no party.

The root of this sleepless nightmare started in January (Grab some popcorn and a drink...This tale is not a short one. Im about to unleash a major gab fest.).

I'd been on a moderate dose of the same medication for a few years. It really helped manage my depression and anxiety. It had minimal side affects and I was doing okay, but I was building up a tolerance to it. When I increased the dosage it helped but made my mind foggy so I decided to see my doctor about trying something new (Oy!).

So, I was put on the medication, that must not be named, and it was an adjustment. I started having crazy dream after crazy dream, but I told myself I just needed to let my body get used to the new meds. I switched the time of day that I took it, tried to be patient, etc. it helped with depression/anxiety, but weird side affects would randomly pop up. I'd get dizzy, forget things, and occasionally studder (Ta Ta today junior!).

Worst of all, sleep became more and more disrupted and harder to come by. Looking back, I wonder why I didn't get off the medication, that must not be named, sooner. I think it's because I had periods of normalcy. I'd have a night or two when I was able to sleep. Or I'd have a sick kid to deal with and attribute difficulties to that rather than the medication.

Sweet Sassafras
Eventually it became too much. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, the side affects became worse and worse and my life was busier and more stressful than ever. The Commander had his birthday, then Sassafras had hers and her baptism was scheduled for the following weekend (In the Mormon religion, you get baptized when you're 8 and it's a very special time). Which meant tons of planning, family coming into town, cleaning to be done and so on. Parallel to all of this, the hubby was studying 14 hours a day and never home (Which was killing him, by the way. He wanted to help me so badly, but failing med school helps no one). I was slowly losing my mind.

But, the straw that broke this mama's back was the horrible sleep issues I was dealing with. I would fall into a very superficial sleep full of horrific nightmares and the worst part was that I couldn't wake up. I was stuck in this awful space between sleep and awake and my heart would begin to race. It was really scary.

So, it all came to a head on that fateful birthday of mine. I was too scared to even try to sleep, was dizzy, and I couldn't think straight. I cried, threw things, and felt like no one could help me. I was the definition of hopeless.

The hubby made me call my doctor and I saw her that day. She switched my meds right away. Though, I left hopeful, my waking nightmare continued. No sleep aid was strong enough to help me sleep. Sleep medication would make my body relax, but my mind was racing 24 hours a day. I somehow planned a baptism and had guests over, spoke at my darling daughter's baptism, played photographer, and smiled. I was a zombie through it all.

Baby boss and his nebulizer
The new medication only exacerbated problems and I was having panic attacks all day every day. I would be carrying baby boss down the stairs and have to stop and take a deep breath just to get to the bottom. Now, keep in mind, I started medication years ago for moderate depression and a little anxiety. So, basically, these meds were making my challenges far worse than they'd ever been.

Back to the doctor I went...totally desperate (This was Friday and baby boss was also very sick parallel to all of this). We decided I should go off medication and let all of it leave my system. A clean slate if you will. I was given a certain medication to only take as needed and, bonus, it helps me sleep.

So, here I am, day three with no medication and three nights sleep. So, when I say I woke up three days ago, it was a very important event. I woke up to baby boss crying and kids laughing. And the sounds were so beautiful. I was able to take my kids to the beach and watch them dig in the sand and splash in the waves. Every little thing made me smile and made my heart glad. If I remember correctly, that emotion is called joy:). And joy is never so sweet as after pain.

As with so many challenges, when you're in the midst of them, you feel like your world is ending; there is no hope; no one who understands. But hind sight provides a clearer picture.

I have the most loving, tender, dedicated husband anyone could ask for. I had friends leave birthday gifts on my door step and cards in my mail box. Another friend called to talk and give advice. One particular friend made me a cake (I believe that cake carried me through my birthday...lol!). The same friend took all three of my kids so that I could make last minute preparations for the baptism. And Sassafras and the Commander were so amazing through it all...helping whenever they could. When my parents came to town, they helped me so much. Just seeing my mom and the compassion in her eyes, lifted my spirits. Their presence was a calming force.

Most of all, I know there were people praying for me and my own prayers were constant. When I felt like I would lose it, I felt a little extra strength and the words, "Be patient, be hopeful, things will get better." would come to mind.

The past two weeks have been some of the hardest of my life (and that's saying something). And I've asked myself, "Was this a set back or a set up?" Was I set back mentally and physically and forever changed for the worse? No! I believe this experience set me up for better things. I have a better understanding of medication and what works for me. I've been set up with more spiritual and mental strength...more compassion and empathy for others. I've been set up to have more appreciation for others and more gratitude for some very simple, yet powerful, blessings in my life.

Sometimes we are given challenges that flat out crush us. But, we can get back up better than ever. We can't choose the challenge and we may be scarred from it, but we can choose to learn from it.

Over the next week, as all medication leaves my system, I will have the opportunity to see how I do without it. I may find that I can make do without it and I may find that I need to try something again (I shudder to think). But, for now I'm going to go play with my cute little toddler (Isn't 18 months the cutest age ever?!) and plan an after school snack for my other misfits. I'm going to ignore my mountain of laundry (like that's anything new) and read the InStyle magazine that just came in the mail. Maybe I'll go to Target. Who knows? But, I'm just going to enjoy...well...just being present...

If any of you have questions about my experience (the medication that must not be named-which I know works well for many people) or would like friendly advice for your own struggle with meds. Please feel free to email me at jodylong82@gmail.com. And, of course, your doctor is always your best reference as they are professionals (yadda, yadda).

All my love to you. Stay tuned as I chronicle going off medication...fun times people.



  1. Oh my heck, Jody. This sounds so much like my experience. My anxiety was so tied to my medication and sleep if one thing was slightly off balance I freaked out! And when I freaked out, everything got off balance. And then I'd end up in the ER. The only medication that actually helped was Ativan, which REALLY helped, but technically I wasn't supposed to take it because I was pregnant. Which gave me serious guilt (and later anxiety) every time I took it.

    My medication which "should not be named" was actually ambien. I didn't realize that it was the root of many of my problems until much later in the game (It helped me sleep, ahhhhh, but caused massive headaches the next day...which made me positive I had a brain tumor...followed by...wait for it... anxiety). Medication is so weird. What was you bad medication?

    Welp, I think you are on the right path. It gets better. I am sure you know this, but sometimes it is hard to believe when your knee-deep in depression/anxiety/sleep deprivation. You WILL get better and this horrendous experience will pass. Then you can feel like Jody again.

    Hang in there girl!

    1. Bethany, It definitely sounds like we had a very similar experience. The only thing that has helped me sleep is Ativan as well! I'm so glad you are doing better. I would love to hear what has helped you off medication. I work out five days a week, at least, and write. Those two things help me tons!!! Loveyou!

    2. It's crazy because I was having so much anxiety, but in reality, almost all my anxiety was about my anxiety, specifically my anxiety symptoms (tell me if this sounds familiar). I did a lot of therapy, which really helped with my anxiety management, as did exercise, and massage. But after all of this I came to one conclusion: something in my body was imbalanced. While my external factors certainly added to my stress, I don't think they were the root of the problem. My body just wanted to be anxious.

      I eventually sent a sample of my hair to a homeopathic clinic in Texas. They ran a bunch of tests and found that I had a lot of toxins in my body and that my estrogen/progesterone levels were freakishly off-balance. Just knowing that I wasn't crazy really validated me and helped me on my path to healing.

      The clinic also sent me a huge ol' batch of vitamins and a diet plan specific to my body's needs. If you are interested in looking into this yourself, I would be glad to give you the contact information.

      The biggest thing that helped me, however, was taking an Ativan at night, saying my prayers, and then laying in bed and meditating. I would think about my anxiety and brainstorm ways to make my experience productive. Just knowing that this trial, as horrible as it was, had a purpose, truly calmed me down and gave me the ability to sleep.

      To me, Jody, it is obvious why you are given this trial of anxiety. It is to be a light to others who are suffering. You are so honest, humorous, and smart and you are a testimony to the fact that you can still be happy even while going through icky stuff.

      Oh, and I still take my Zoloft religiously. I hope it doesn't wear off, as yours did, but if it does, I'll call you for advice, By then, your body will have it all figured out.

      Let me know if I can do anything to help you Jody! Thinking and praying for you!

  2. Jody, thank you so much for sharing with us.
    You are amazing and strong and inspiring and encouraging even in the face of all that 'crazy' stuff. I'm so glad that your doctor is so supportive and seems to really know what they're doing. Medications have their plus and minus points, well you already knew that, it just takes time to work out which one is best.

    I also have a medication 'that must not be named' and four others that have been tried, tested and failed to make any difference. So I've been meds free for about 2 years now. However, if judging by my own blog writing, I really should at least go back to see the doc sometime soon! (I'm getting around to it, honest!)

    As a follower of your story from far away, I just wanted to know that you are though of and I really hope that things start to get more like 'normal' very soon.
    When you said you were going to enjoy being present. You made me smile, firstly because sometimes that is the most joyous thing that we can do and secondly because it's the one thing I'm aiming for too (maybe one day).

    Take care,

    1. Thank you so much Laura! It's so true. Finding the right medication is quite the experience!! I sure hope you find something that works well for you and I'm so glad you are writing a blog. It takes guts and I respect you for it! All my love to you:).

  3. Jody, What a beautiful post! You are such an inspiration.

  4. Hope is a wonderful thing. Glad you are able to feel some now. LOVE YOU


Theme created by PIXELZINE