Sometimes recovery really is all over the place. Sometimes it’s messy. It’s uneven. It leaves much to be desired. Sometimes recovery feels like falling backwards, and sometimes it even is heading backwards for a while. Recovery is dynamic, changing, just as we humans are not static creatures. Our experiences parallel this.
On this blog, I try to have an optimistic outlook of recovery as a process, and all its ups and downs. I’m getting used to focusing on the stages of the process, which is good, however I need to remember that this trend line isn’t straight. It’s pointing in the right direction, but it’s a rollercoaster to get there.
A few nights ago, it was one of those nights. I felt as though I was back to square one, smack bang down where I started. One little blip, episode, moment, whatever you want to call it, really isn’t that major in the big scheme of things. But at the time, it can feel as though everything is crashing down, that everything is crumbling, and that all is against us. All of a sudden we feel alone, stuck, a shadow of who we have worked so hard to become.
To help manage a number of symptoms, I take the SNRI Venlafaxine every day at the same time. I have always stuck to this, and have never missed a dose. I have been warned, profusely, about the side-effects of missing a dose. These side-effects are apparently greater in intensity than most SSRI medications, as Venlafaxine has a very short biological half-life, meaning that it is metabolised and eliminated from our systems quickly. Therefore, taking a dose late or missing it altogether means that the side-effects of withdrawal are intense, and can come about quicker than expected.
One morning, I forgot to take Venlafaxine. It had completely slipped my mind, which is very unlike me. I went about my day fine, and it wasn’t until I began work in the evening that I realised that something wasn’t right. Every movement caused this whooshy sensation and dizziness, so even just looking to the side would cause everything to flip and spin. My coordination was a bit off too, as I kept dropping things, and also kept getting words all muddled up. It was scary, as I haven’t experienced this before. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that I had forgotten to take my medication.
To cut a long, embarrassing story short, I ended up having a panic attack and leaving work early. My managers and supervisor were so, so lovely. I felt so guilty about what I put them through, but they were so kind and understanding. I am so very grateful for them. I have had a couple of panic attacks at work, however each time I am amazed at how supportive my colleagues are. The next day I’m always a bit nervous about going back, about what people will think of me, but each time they treat me normally and the same as always, and that makes it so much easier.
It’s interesting how big of an influence Venlafaxine has on my body. Not only does it enable me to work on my recovery, rather than merely existing on the brink of survival, but also it simply has changed me. Venlafaxine has changed my life, for the better, and I am so thankful that I have access to this medication which I need.
In the moment, it’s easy to think that we haven’t changed at all, and that mental illnesses will always reign over us and have complete control. It is instances like this night at work that remind me that difficult things still happen, but I have the tools to handle them now. Recovery is all over the place, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. It changes us in the process. Are we all the better for it? Who knows. But one thing is for sure – it makes us strong.