Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 9th

All right, I'm sleepy but I'm going to give you guys a very well-deserved update today!

On Saturday afternoon, my mom came up to visit me. We decided I should go to the ER, as my anxiety symptoms had gotten progressively worse over the course of about a week. At that point I was having a lot of fidgeting, tremors, restlessness, agitation, and trouble sleeping, plus I would get very anxious in any sort of public place. (For example, I was kind of tweaking out when I went to Walmart to make a return.)

Quick backstory: I was on a particular medication from about age 12 or 14 or so up until this past March, when I switched because while I felt the previous medication handled my anxiety very well, I still felt unmotivated and has some depressive symptoms. So from March up until about two weeks ago, I was on a newer medication. Two weeks ago, quite suddenly, I started experienced very noticeable anxiety symptoms. They got worse and I switched back to the highest dose of the old medication I was on without building up to it and without weaning off the other one, which was at the suggestion of the nurse at my doctor's office, as my doctor is out of the office for the month of September.

So anyway, my mom drove me to the ER and the doctors said I'd started too much of the old med too soon, and that I should just decrease my dose and I'd be fine. My mom and I went to Target and I started feeling light-headed and dizzy, a possible side-effect of the meds. Back at my apartment I felt tightness in my chest, which I attributed to the anxiety.

That night, my symptoms got worse. I was shaking, my chest was tight and I felt like it was hard to breathe. I was incredibly weak because for the past week I'd been shaking and fidgeting my legs uncontrollably, and it was moving to my hands and even neck when I would stand up. I felt dizzy and often like I was going to pass out. I didn't sleep that night. The next morning the nausea came, along with hot flashes, retching, and feeling like I was going to pass out. My mom was unable to come up to bring me to the ER, so I called for an ambulance. (Which just made me more anxious, because holy shit calling 911 and having to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance is scary.)

I had a great paramedic in the ambulance who immediately gave me some anti-nausea meds after I said I got motion sickness really easily, and riding backwards in a vehicle with no windows was like a nightmare. I still felt nauseous and anxious, but I managed not to puke! I was feeling very much like I was going to pass out and my chest was very tight though, so I got an oxygen mask.

At the hospital, I was put in a room and given one of those heart rate things for your finger, and then they left me in my room. I waited for 5-10 minutes and no one came in except the initial nurse who just took my info and gave me my wristband. I was still feeling dizzy and like I was going to pass out and had a lot of pressure in my chest, so I paged a nurse. And no one came. For 15-20 minutes I was in there clutching the guard rails of my gurney, shaking, feeling like I was going to pass out, feeling like I couldn't breathe, and no one came when I pushed the assistance button. Eventually nurse came in. I told her what was happening. Her response? "Just try to calm down and breathe." She then turned off the lights and left me. I was so frustrated by that. Eventually a doctor came in (his first response was, "Why are the lights off?") and told me someone would be in shortly to give me some medication to calm my system down. Then he left, and I was there still in distress. Eventually someone came and gave me something to essentially tranquilize me. I fell asleep pretty quickly after that, and then my mom showed up.

I was wheeled out to my mom's car my some nurse who decided I needed to go very quickly, so I was being pushed at an alarming rate which made me feel super light-headed. I got in my mom's car and proceeded to be about 25% awake for the car ride down to her house. When I got there I hazily went up to my bedroom and went straight to bed.

Yesterday I went in to see a psychiatrist. He told me I likely had serotonin toxicity, although luckily a pretty mild case. This was from switching to such a high dose of that medication without first weaning off the other one, then building up to the high dose. He told me not to take either of those meds and prescribed two new meds for me. One was the same one they gave me at the hospital, which is a fast-acting but not long-lasting sedative, and the other is a similar drug but one that takes a little longer to work and lasts longer. So I've been taking those for two days now, just on an "as needed" basis. I do the quick one in the morning and it calms me down a bit. But nothing so far has been able to stop my need to move/shake/wiggle my right leg. (You know when you're in class and someone's bumping their leg up and down during a test out of nervousness? That's me, just about 24/7 now.) I've also taking the longer acting drug but it makes me sleepy. I took it this afternoon and promptly fell asleep, and was awoken by my sister telling me it was 9:00. I was so disoriented that I thought she meant 9:00 AM. Since then I've eaten a bit and hung out with my sister. Luckily I'm able to interact and socialize in a home environment okay, although I still have a lot of excess nervous energy.

The plan going forward is to wait for the two serotonin-based drugs to get completely out of my system, and use the two newer "chill out" drugs in the meantime to manage my symptoms. I'm still not able to do anything in public as it's extremely overwhelming and I'm so anxious and restless and agitated, as well as still a bit light-headed. I may have a bit of withdrawal symptoms from the other meds too. Hopefully in a week or so I can try and get started on a new medication that I can just take once a day and it will get me back to where I was before this whole mess started.

My worry going forward is that I'm going to be one of those people who is either on a cocktail of drugs, or who can't find something that works and thus am unable to work or function well. This terrifies me. I was so happy at my job and doing well with it, and I want to go back and do it normally like before. I was pretty mentally okay for many years in terms of anxiety symptoms and ability to function, so this sudden change is really bumming me out. I feel very isolated, very alone, and very unhappy. I miss that just a month ago, I was functioning completely fine, and then things just suddenly went awry and no one seems to no why. I just want to be able to go back to feeling like I did before, not being bedridden and bound to my house and feeling so off.

Sorry this was such a long entry, but I wanted to give you all and update, and it'll be nice to have this for my own records too. Mental health is a funny thing, huh?

Also, a funny fact: While I was debating whether or not to call for an ambulance, I decided it was very important that I blog first, then call, in case I didn't have access to a cellphone or I was kept there overnight. Priorities! Blogging! Yay!

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