I have a secret – one that I kept pretty close to the heart for a long time – that I think I’m ready to share now.
I’ve been on anti-anxiety meds for the better part of the 7+ years that I’ve lived in Florida.
I didn’t tell very many people about this for two main reasons:
And now I’m taking a shot a weaning off of the medication – I’m 1 month into the wean actually.
But lets back up…what lead to me down the road of anti-anxiety meds in the first place?
In the October of 2003 my life changed: I met this guy!
Things moved quickly and we were engaged by April 2004…which meant it was time for me to start looking for a job in FLORIDA! (Either that or he looked in PA…which wasn’t a real option if you asked me!)
Then July 2, 2004 happened. While visiting Ryan for his birthday/4th of July I had an interview. Said interview lasted over 3 hours…and I was offered the job that same day!
Then things move even quicker: I had two weeks to pack up my life in PA and move across the country to officially start my life with Ryan.
In the span of ONE MONTH the following “major life events” happened:
Enter: Anxiety Attacks, seemingly out of nowhere. (I went to the hospital the first time I had one because I was convinced I was dying. I wasn’t. True story.)
I found a physician here in FL – the one the ER referred me to actually – that was convinced all of the changes I just went through were the trigger for my new high-anxiety level – he suggested medication to help me get through.
But I didn’t want that. I was strong! I never ever had high anxiety before so I didn’t have any anxiety problems NOW dammit! I WASN’T GOING TO TAKE ANY EFFING MEDICATION!!
So I started seeing a therapist. And it helped. My general anxiety level went down a bit…but I still had anxiety attacks – sometimes as often as one major one a day, and definitely no less than once a week.
After 3 months, I went back to my doctor with my tail between my legs asking for a prescription.
It was a DREAM COME TRUE! Once my body was used to the medication the anxiety attacks went away – and better yet, I wasn’t worried all.the.time.about.stupid.shit.
I stayed on the medication for about 3 years and I decided to go off of it. After a lengthy weaning process I was off of it…for 3 months before the anxiety attacks started up again.
So I went back on it. And here we are today, another 4 years later. I decided to try going sans-medication again for 2 major reasons:
I think I have about a week left of the weaning process before I’m totally off of the medication. But I can already feel some of the general anxiety coming back.
Seriously. These things and others like it are at the forefront of my mind all the time again!
The heart rate one is the one that was bothering me the most. Because RIGHT when I started weaning off of the medication, I started getting some really STRANGE readings from my heart rate monitor.
237 beats per minute? How was that even possible? Clearly my heart is going to explode!
Seriously, that was the first thought that entered my mind for many workouts. My “usual” maximum heart rate hovers in the 177-181 range with averages around 150. I didn’t FEEL any different during the workouts with these sky-high heart rate readings…but SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG BECAUSE THE HRM SAYS SO!
I immediately started obsessing:
But the rational human being in me (and my husband) knew better:
So I continued to obsess…and went on another run yesterday. (With my cell phone…you know, just in case I felt like I was going to die, so I could call 911 for myself.)
Within the first 2 minutes my heart rate spiked at 223 BPM. “I can’t do this! I need to turn around right now! Must go to ER.!
And then it dawned on me. I could feel my heart rate monitor making connection with my skin, then coming “up” with every step I took.
So I crammed that thing up right under my sports bra band and IMMEDIATELY my heart rate went back to my normal range.
Apparently over the past several weeks, I would wear my HRM strap lower and lower around my rib cage to prevent chafing…and apparently it got to a point that it was TOO LOW and was taking freaky readings because with each step one side would read my actual heart rate while the other side came “off” and then counted another “beat” when it touched my skin again.
Long story short, I just spent 3 weeks agonizing and stressing out over something that was totally my fault, and totally a “user error” rather than a real “problem”.
The only reason my mind even WENT into “holy crap I’m dying” mode is because I knew I was weaning off of the anti-anxiety meds and therefore let myself started obsessing.
So, a nice little wakeup call for myself – a reminder that I DON’T need to overthink things. I will KNOW if there is a problem with my body! (Clearly part of me knew this since I didn’t go running to the doctor after the first high reading 3 weeks ago.)
Long story short? There is an upside to this heart rate monitor debacle – slash – weaning off of anti-anxiety medication story:
And that’s that. For now I’m continuing to wean with the goal of being anxiety and medication free. Wish me luck!