It was April, 2009 when my doctor put me on medication for my "condition", GAD, generalized anxiety disorder. For as long as I can remember, I've been anxious. It started when I was a child and the daughter of an undiagnosed mentally ill woman. I never knew if my uneaten peas or messy bedroom would set her off so I spent my life walking on proverbial eggshells. This learned behavior followed me into my teens and finally, adulthood. I felt like I had to perfect to be accepted and it was exhausting trying to fake it, lest someone find out my "secret".
It never dawned on me that there was medication for that. I just assumed that it was something I had to learn to deal with so I read books and tried to hypnotize my way out of it. The spring of 2009 was when my blood pressure became so alarmingly high that western medicine intervened and gave me a magic pill.
Of course, I had to try a round of magic pills to find the one that suited me the best. One pill made me larger and one pill made me small. I was living this song.
I finally found a medication that allowed me to sit still during a meeting without wanting to run out screaming. I figured I would take my chances with the potential side effects:
- muscle weakness
- chest pain
- weight gain
- decreased sex drive
Being on the medication proved to be a blessing and a curse. I no longer had extreme highs or lows but, instead, existed somewhere in the middle, bordering on indifference. This decreased emotional reaction was helpful as I maneuvered my way through the illness and subsequent deaths of both of my parents within a short period of time. I was distraught but I would have been an absolute mess if I hadn't been on meds.
I kept wanting to go off the medication because I was sure that it was responsible for my 50 pound weight gain. Surely it had nothing to do with my daily ingestion of junk food, fast food and booze! I was just too afraid to let go of this crutch that made me appear "normal" to people.
Fast forward to 2013. Hot flashes and missed periods. Oh fuck. My sister's prophecy was coming true.
"Are you sure you aren't perimenopausal? Maybe you're perimenopausal."
I think I'm perimenopausal.
I guess it makes sense but it sure does blow. There's nothing worse than having a conversation with someone and feeling a wave of heat come over you. You can feel your face flush and then comes that familiar trickle of sweat down the middle of your boobs.
A friend suggested Black Cohosh, an herb used to treat menopausal symptoms. It's a North American Indian medicine that has been used for a variety of maladies over the years. Can I tell you that within a day, I was feeling better! And the best part is that I've stopped taking my happy pills and I feel FINE. No anxiety and no homicidal tendencies which tended to come up if I forgot to take pills in the past.
Who knows? Maybe I'll even want to have sex again someday! With a partner!