Confessions of an Anxiety Case Part 5: So I’ve decided to try meds.

That’s right. After a lifetime with anxiety, and after almost a decade having past since my first therapy session/diagnosis, I decided to try meds. I’ve been on them about a week now, and decided that for posterity’s sake, as well as the sake of anybody else with anxiety who may be considering meds, I would write about my experience with them. I’m going to be pretty open and when need be, explicit. Anxiety affects every part of your body, and so can the meds. So what I’m getting at is if you’re uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality, OR if you’re related to me, maybe you wanna skip this one,  haha.

I’m straightedge. You can see more about that in my post about anxiety and addiction. I was hesitant to try meds for a few reasons. I wanted to try an manage my anxiety without them, I didn’t feel like I was a danger to myself. And partly, meds just freak/ed me out.

I’ve come a very, very long way since then. A couple of months ago I revisited the idea of trying medication. I never had, and despite managing my anxiety fairly well…it was always there. Whether it affected me outwardly or no, I always had that constant physical sensation of anxiety…that burning feeling that’s not entirely unlike butterflies but is really a lot worse. And I mean always. If I was awake, it was there.

So I thought it through, talked with my partner, talked with my best friend (who’s got her MSw with a psychology background, so she’s got some real insight in addition to just knowing me for like 12 years). And decided that at my next physical I would talk to my doctor.

And he prescribed 10mg of Lexapro. He went over some of the basic side effects and said that it’s a low enough dose to where if I’m uncomfortable with it, we could stop without weening me off of it. And also said I would need to be on it at least a week, maybe longer, for it to really have any effect.

I got home, and a few hours later I took my first dose.

Like half an hour after that, I was asleep haha.

My best friend said there was no way it could be the meds, that there was no way what’s in a single pill could actually have affected me.

Next day, it knocked me out again.

On day three, I felt the difference. My anxiety was…muted. I could still feel it there, but it wasn’t so pronounced. I decided to ignore the lack of it until I was more certain. I’ve had moments without anxiety and I couldn’t be sure it was the meds working without some length of time elapsing.

And it’s been weird. I’m gonna talk a bit about the ways the pills have affected me, because that’s the reason for this post.

First of all, they work. I’m not “numb” or “robotic.” I still feel very much like myself. I always had that burning anxiety, which would spike when something triggered me…almost like an internal flinch or something. That flinch still happens sometimes, without the sensation of anxiety. I’m assuming it’s a matter of conditioning and over time it’ll subside.

I haven’t felt much anxiety at all.

Looking at the side effects is a horror show. But it’s been pretty mild for me.

I don’t feel hunger like I used to. I don’t get as hungry as quickly, OR as full as quickly. I am pretty sure that this explains why some people either gain or lose weight dramatically on this. If you have a tendency to get too busy and forget to eat, or if you have a tendency to over eat, this could exacerbate it.

My job is horribly boring. It’s so, so much worse now. I work in a factory and when things are busy they’re busy but when something is running well it’s mostly a matter of just keeping an eye on the equipment. This would invite a lot of anxious ruminating. About everything. Now things just toggle through my mind without dwelling, and then they move along. So instead of spending 5 hours worrying about how I would feel on today’s bike ride…I just think “well, for the sake of time I’ll ride 15 miles instead of 35” and then I’m done.

So I just sit there, staring at the machine. I think I need to bring in a book.

It’s similarly become more difficult to focus on outlining things to write, or on making the ominous to-do lists that anxiety makes you have to make 45 times a week.

I’m still undecided on whether or not it’s keeping me from being as active because I don’t feel like I’m going to be a fat miserable weakling if I don’t bike for 4 hours today.

I think I might be a bit more comfortable confronting people about things, but I’m not sure just yet.

I need more sleep. A lot. I was done sleeping at 6 hours before, and was fine on 5. Now I need 8. I think maybe anxiety just kept me sleeping lightly or something. I also remember more of my dreams. And they do knock me out. I’m trying to time taking them…because it seems like I konk out heavily for maybe 30-45 minutes, and am then totally groggy as I try and get ready for bed…and as I move around it wakes me up and then I’m just awake indefinitely. This one I think will get worked out as time goes on.

Going in, the sexual side effects worried me. They made no sense. Impotence or priapism or anorgasmia.

I discussed it with my partner and we’re seeing where it goes.

Sex is interesting. Obviously anxiety affects it. Like it or not, realize it or not, it was there. With the meds…it was and is so much different.

First of all, sensation is enhanced. I don’t know if it’s a direct result of the meds, or if it’s a lack of anxiety allowing my brain to fire properly…but wow. Huge, huge difference.

I’ve not had a problem with losing erection. I mean…they’re kind of always in a state of flux at any given time during sex anyway…certain positions or whatever. You’re not always diamond hard. What I HAVE noticed in that regard is that those changes don’t trigger anxiety. And that without the anxiety, it’s not really inviting the problem otherwise.

I can see the potential for anorgasmia–the inability to orgasm. I got very interested in sex and sexuality in my late teens (that sounds creepy…). I don’t mean like some high-school virgin dude who thinks he’s badass because he’s reading the Kama Sutra. I mean actual books on sexuality, sexual dysfunction and all that stuff. I was drawn to it partly out of anxiety issues and partly out of just the people I was around–my best friend (same one) worked at a sex shop for a while and materials were easily accessed. I learned a lot.

So I started paying attention to how everything went and worked.

If you look at sex, as in having sex at the moment, as a road. You can come to forks and turns in the road. Or at least I can. When a fork comes up, if I veer off the path I’m on, things will wrap up somewhat soon. If I stay on the path I’m on, I can keep going. And this can go on for quite some time.

With the meds, it’s like that fork is somewhat obstructed. Staying on the path is not so much easier to do as it’s more difficult to veer from. At higher intensity I feel like I can last longer. And once I feel like I can shift gears and move toward orgasm…it’s a bit tougher to get there.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I need to be on the meds longer (it’s only been a week…) to see how they truly affect me. But as of now, it does seem at least slightly more difficult to bring myself to orgasm. I can absolutely see how someone would be unable to orgasm. And I wonder if it will become more difficult for me, and, if not, does it have anything to do with the amount of time I’ve spent coming to understand my sexuality.

But when I do, it is considerably more intense. Again, I’m not sure if it’s because of the meds, because I’m not feeling any anxiety, or now in this case…if it’s just a bit more focus to get there. But yeah…it’s been really intense. I kind of can’t stress it enough. The sensation is heightened, and not just the sensation of the orgasm itself–the sensation of everything that’s happening around me before, during and immediately after sex. I feel like it has to be because of the absence of anxiety rather than just the presence of a drug. But again…I don’t know just yet.

My primary concern, and one I’m going to be very mindful of…is motivation.

Anxiety was such a driving factor in a lot I’ve been able to accomplish. It’s not as big of a deal to do things anymore. Which also means it’s potentially not as big of a deal to not do things. Friends would often be amazed that I would do so much in a day…I would wake up and cook breakfast, do the dishes and laundry, vacuum and mop, paint a room, work on some wood projects and bike 30 miles. And that would be on a Saturday before 3pm, and I would then do almost a month of homework.

That’s an anxious drive. I hope not to lose that capability but we’ll see.

That said, I still feel connected to the world around me. It’s less that I feel more confident and more that I feel less bothered. I’m not yet at a point where I feel comfortable pushing myself to do things that would otherwise have triggered anxiety (like singing, for instance). But I don’t feel less connected to that which I’m passionate about, I don’t feel less connected to my partner.

It’s been about a week and I’ve noticed a plethora of changes in myself. I want to revisit all of these things at maybe the month mark to see what’s changed.

I don’t know if this will ever find its way to anybody struggling with anxiety or who has considered or is considering meds. I hope it does. In any event, it’s here and I can look back at the ways I’ve been affected by and worked through and grown with anxiety.

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About Pedal Powered Anthropology

I have a degree in anthropology from Rhode Island College. My focus was in biological anthropology but I also have a broad interest in cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology. This blog is intended to be for the development of my own positions and ideas, mostly regarding paleoanthropology and paleontology in general, with a heaping helping of evolution on top...but also includes bits about a lot of different aspects of culture, primarily race, gender, privilege, the environment and my own personal relationship with anxiety.

Posted on 10/17/2015, in anxiety, confessions of an anxiety case, identity, introspection, mental health and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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