When we last saw each other, I told you how I started on two new medications, which are Zoloft and Clonazepam (I hadn’t named them in the previous post). I also talked about how I had my first meal, how my blood tests came back positive, but that I was still struggling a bit with my appetite and anxiety attacks.
Today, I have an update. This will be my third update in this series that I’ll be posting on this blog, but will continue posting about anxiety and my health whenever I feel the need to share something.
Nearly back to normal at this point. I’m up to about two meals per day, and they are normal sized meals. This was my eating pattern prior to the initial anxiety attack.
You may remember me talking about ketosis and intermittent fasting in the past; this eating pattern hasn’t really been a focus of mine since the massive appetite loss. Instead, I’ve focused on eating whatever my body can stomach – be it soup, salad, pasta, or pizza. Not all the healthiest of choices, I know, but food and nutrition nonetheless.
Now that my appetite is almost back to normal, my goal going forward today is to begin limiting my options to healthier, more nutrient rich foods.
How I feel varies day to day. Some days, like yesterday, I feel totally normal. Other days, like to day, I feel tired and a bit nauseated.
The Zoloft is partly to blame for some of the physical sickness I’ve been feeling over the last few weeks. Zoloft takes 4-6 weeks to really begin to work, and there are a number of physical responses your body will likely have to the drug during that time.
So, it’s to be expected that I don’t feel 100% some days.
I still have anxiety attacks, though they’ve become far less frequent in the last week. The good thing is that since seeing a doctor and really learning about what’s going on, I’m more aware, and have been able to power through some of them.
Other times, the anxiety attack is too strong, and no amount of mental will can shake it. They can last for hours, make the physical symptoms – the nausea, the rapid heartbeat, the feverish feeling – extremely intense. The feeling of fear and death hovers over me when the anxiety is strong.
It’s a scary feeling that I know is temporary, but no matter how much I know, the feeling doesn’t always just go away.
The Clonazepam has been extremely helpful for those intense panic attacks. One pill and the physical symptoms begin to die down within about 20 minutes. My body begins to relax, and my mind is able to focus on more positive things.
It’s hard to say yet whether or not the Zoloft is working, but I will say the intense anxiety attacks have lessened over the last week, and I’ve been taking it for two and a half weeks now. I’m told after about 3 weeks, the physical side effects should begin to wear off, and the benefits will slowly start kicking in, and that the medication will be fully active by weeks 4 to 6.
I’m looking forward to that day. While I’m not in panic-mode on a daily basis, I still have been having 3 or 4 panic attacks each week. Some stronger than others, and it’s all very stressful and physically draining.
I do recognize the frequency lessening this last week, so I’m hoping they’ll be a rare occurrence within the next few weeks.
Life is great. I’ve been going into work more frequently, and have left feeling incredibly productive each day.
Ironically, I’m feeling a little bit more confident and happier about how I look since the anxiety attack. I’m now down to about 167lbs, which is 14lbs down since the first major anxiety attack, and 41lbs down since I started dieting earlier this year.
I’m hoping to maintain this new weight in a healthy way, again, by introducing more nutrient rich foods into my recent diet, and getting back into a regular workout regiment.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be actively seeking counseling. My doctor gave me a few recommendations, and I have been doing some research of my own; I’m hoping to find a therapist who can help me work through the anxiety in a way that doesn’t keep me too reliant on my Clonazepam.
Oh, speaking of therapy, two weeks ago we adopted a kitten who’s been appropriately named Special Agent Dale Cooper, or “Cooper” for short. I’ll be sure to share his entire story soon.
Cooper has been incredibly therapeutic for me. He is a fluffy bundle of positive energy. I’ve had a couple nights of insomnia recently, waking up at 2AM unable to fall back asleep. Cooper has made his nightly resting place the floor right next to my side of the bed. When I get insomnia, I reach down and pet him. His response? He wakes up, purrs as loud as possible, hops up on the bed, gives me a little kiss on the face, and lays next to my head on my pillow.
He’s been the light of Jessica’s and my life since we adopted him, and I consider him a huge proponent to my getting back on track.
That’s really all the update I have. In summary, things are getting better and better. The nausea, anxiety, panic attacks…all occur far less frequently than before. I’m moving forward in a positive light, and I’m looking forward to making the best out of everything that’s happened over the last month.
I do want to thank all of you for your kind words. Many of you opened up to me about your own experiences with anxiety, and it’s a comfort knowing I’m not alone. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’ve felt the need to continue writing about this…so perhaps others might not feel alone in their journey.
So again, thank you all for the support, the kind words, the encouragement, the prayers, and positive vibes. It means the world.
Hola my friends!
You may have read my last post regarding my health. It’s been a few days, and some things have happened, and I have a small update!
Mornings are generally the worst. Today, for example, I had a really bad anxiety attack – one of the worst since the first big just under a week ago. I woke up feeling incredibly ill, sweaty, with my heart beating out of my chest. I was having hot flashes, feeling dizzy, my head was pounding, and most of all…I felt afraid.
In fact, the entire episode started with an intense feeling of fear and doom. Every other symptom quickly followed as I attempted to calm myself. I did what any self-help book might tell you…I meditated, prayed, took deep breaths, focused on positive things, and did all I could to tell myself “everything is fine.”
But none of that worked. My heart continued to race, the fear was increasing, and the sickening feelings got worse and worse. At some point I even checked my pulse and my heart rate was at about 120bpm, a bit high for just waking up in the morning.
At one point I attempted to rest it off. I got back in bed, closed my eyes, and curled up into a ball. As I laid there shaking, rocking back and forth, I had the worst of mixed emotions. So many thoughts raced through my head…some hoping that I’m dying just so it all goes away, others filled with the confidence that I’m strong enough to get through it.
In the moment, I’ve never wanted more than to die, and I’ve never wanted more than to live. It is the worst place to be. But things are getting better…
As I mentioned in my last post, I had to get some blood work to check my glucose levels, my white blood cell count, and my thyroid.
Well, I had my arm poked and blood drawn and…. all results came back normal. Which is great! That rules out thyroid issues, autoimmune issues, and anemia being the culprit of my extreme nausea, anxiety, and appetite loss. Which is great. I can breathe a huge sigh of relief there.
However, I don’t believe the lab that was done can rule out any gastrointestinal issues completely. I would like to get that checked out at some point, because I’m still experiencing a wide range of stomach problems. And if you recall in my last post, the doctor did bring up the fact that there may be some gastrointestinal issues.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a terrible anxiety attack this morning. Yesterday morning, after not getting much relief with the blood pressure medication she prescribed, my doctor recommended increasing the dosage. It didn’t work.
So naturally, this morning, one of the first things I decided to do was to get ahold of my doctor. I explained to her that the increased dosage didn’t work, and desperately I need a solution. Because right now, I crave nothing more than to be able to wake up in the morning and start the morning commute (who says that?!?!)
She prescribed me two new drugs: one to diminish the affects of anxiety that I would take as needed, and one to prevent anxiety attacks from occurring that I would take daily. I’ll be starting this new regiment tonight.
Throughout this entire ordeal, my ability to eat food, let alone smell it, without wanting to vomit all over the place was nil. However, I know that in order to fight this sick feeling as best I can, I need to eat.
Knowing I can’t eat a lot at once, I had decided to eat very very small amounts of food more frequently. It started with a couple pieces of water melon twice a day. Then I incorporated small amounts of rice and soup, and at one point a little bit of kraft mac and cheese. This allowed me to very quickly expand the types of food my gag reflex wouldn’t respond negatively to. That said, I hadn’t yet had a full meal. I don’t think I was taking in more than 100-400 calories in a day.
Yesterday, my wife decided to take me to Whole Foods to check out the buffet and see if there’s anything that I could stomach. As usual, I felt awful going out. I can’t really stand up for very long without getting nauseated or feeling like I’m going to pass out. However, I figured the fresh air would do me good, and going to Whole Foods’ buffet would give me a chance to see if our home-made food therapy was paying off. And it was!
I can’t say smelling the food didn’t make me feel sick, but I was surprised that most of the foods’ scents didn’t have a negative effect. Unfortunately, that didn’t really hold true when I tried to eat the food. I ended up only eating a piece of cauliflower, a spoonful of mashed potatoes, and a slice or two of roasted veggies. I almost immediately felt nauseated, and had a very difficult time swallowing the food. Eventually, I just felt full, even though I clearly was not.
Today was different; today I had my first actual meal. My wife and I went to pick up my prescription this afternoon, and we decided to get some wonton soup to-go (thanks, Mom and Dad, for suggesting the wonton soup) from our favorite Chinese restaurant that just so happens to a few doors down from the pharmacy.
But not only did we buy wonton soup, we bought an order of pork fried rice and sweet & sour pork. I filled my plate with about a cup of rice, 5 pieces of pork, and had a bowl of wonton soup…and ate the whole damn thing. And it felt good.
After almost an entire week of barely anything, it was almost a religious experience just being able to enjoy a plateful of food.
Well, it’s been 8 hours since my meal, and I’m still feeling full. But I will be trying to stomach some more food after I finish writing this post.
Tonight I start taking my new medication. I don’t expect much from it out the door; it takes 4-6 weeks to really start working, and for the first 1 or 2 weeks, I’m told I may feel a loss in appetite and nausea…which basically means I’m just gonna continue feeling like crap. But if it means I can start feeling normal in a month, bring it on.
Since my last post, I received so many positive messages, it was kind of overwhelming. People I haven’t talked to in years were reaching out offering kind words of encouragement. Friends, family, and coworkers offered prayers and positive vibes. All of it has helped. And I cannot thank you guys enough.
Throughout this entire ordeal, the thing I tried to do most was stay positive. Having been surrounded by people who share that same principle has been nothing but uplifting, encouraging, and healing. As a generally happy and positive person suddenly and involuntarily thrown into this state of extreme fear, depression, and physical sickness & stress, I feel utterly blessed.
So thank you. From the very bottom of my heart… thank you.