It’s been seven days since my diagnosis of severe anxiety disorder. I am now on Pragiola for short term use and Sertraline for the long haul and I have to admit, it was not too easy untill now – even though both are on a very low prescription. I tried to jot down notes every day to record my feelings as a curate as possible but let’s start with a few explanations first:
The fine print – What is it and what do I do against it
What is GAD? GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder is different from normal feelings of anxiousness. People who have generalized anxiety disorder worry uncontrollably about common occurrences and situations and they are often unable to say what they are worried about. They report feelings that something bad may happen or that they just can’t calm themselves. This excessive, unrealistic worry can be frightening and can interfere with relationships and daily activities like leaving the home. If one has GAD, that person may also have another health condition such as depression or ADHD.
Pragiola belongs to a group of medicines used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in adults. Many anxiety disorders are caused by overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and under-stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system. Pragiola utilizes these two pathways in the central nervous system to help reduce the symptoms of an anxiety disorder but it will take up to 2 weeks before you feel an effect. The side effects that I had during this first week are: Fatigue, weight gain, dizziness, drowsiness, feeling drunk, headache, problems with memory or concentration, dry mouth, constipation and sore throat.
But I feel lucky. Reading the leaflet I could have had it worse.
Sertraline is an antidepressant that belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. It is used to treat depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. The side effects that I had during this first week are: nausea, constipation, dry mouth, heartburn, loss of appetite, weight changes, dizziness, excessive tiredness, headache, nervousness and of course I cant say which of the meds did the dry mouth or dizziness….
And of course I am still going to therapy to support the workings of the medicin
I am not working fixed days at the moment, which makes it considerably more easy on me, since the first day was difficult. I was part scared and part glad to be taking the medication. After a few hours I felt drunk without the buzz. Vertigo, sick to the stomach, heavy limbs and I couldn’t get a thought straight. It felt like thinking through molasses and I was just hanging out with the cats on the couch.
At the end of the day I tried to scare myself with these thoughts: “Now you’ve done it. You can’t just stop taking the meds, you have to slowly get off them if you ever can get off them at all” but luckily I was too sluggish to really do anything with these silly accusations.
It feels still strange but I feel better. It’s like my body is starting to find a balance or rhythm. The periods in which I feel drunk and less in control of my body are shorter and maybe it’s a placebo, but I do feel more neutral in between. Maybe I’m too exhausted to be scared but for the past few years I was really uncomfortable when it stormed. A million scenarios about flooding and water in the house and cats escaping in panic would go through my head. Today it’s storming and raining and I’m uncomfortable but very few scary thoughts made it through the cotton fluff in my head that’s my brain now…
Day Three to Five
I still feel the drugs but not as heavy as in the beginning. My thoughts seem clunky, slow and I have trouble finding words, but the cotton seems way less in my mind. I have rarely vertigo now, not feeling drugged anymore but apparently that left me to lock up my jaw in pain again and at some point I hurt my tongue and don’t even remember when. Concentration is still a patchy. I can concentrate on a task when I don’t get disrupted, on a computer game for example but my mind fades out in conversation or when I try to write. I do feel hope now that it will improve.
The morning was fine. Not much change the the past few days. I decided it’s bets to keep playing on the PlayStation till I can think clear. In the evening I start fidgeting with my fingers again. Tap tap tapping and I can feel my eyes darting around the room. Through conversation with Hass I figured I fucked up royally. I forgot to send paperwork that has been ready for ages and that was important to renew my driving license. As it sinks in that I’m now not not driving by choice but by law I got a panic attack and barely could stop myself from telling myself what an idiot I am. Even when Hass explained to me we can fix it I felt like I pressed the button that will destroy the world. My mind couldn’t let go until we went to bed… and till my mind finally let me sleep.
I’m still a little dizzy, not hungry and my thoughts have to filter through cotton fluff, but I feel I can function now. I have distance to my mistake and I understand that it’s fixable and just an inconvenience. I managed to edit the text about the diagnosis (Whats up doc) and write this piece. I know it won’t win literature prizes but I can string my thoughts together. I can have humorous conversations and follow tv shows again.
Looking back at the progress of the last seven days, I have high hopes I did the right thing and my health will improve from here on out. I did expect little setbacks, but that is how progress is made.
Let me know what you have experienced, or what you think about my path. This was written as a conversation started.