Hey everyone. So I figured this forum is probably the best way for me to get people caught up on how I am doing, plus give a more full version of the story that most of you are aware of at least part of.
As all of you know, Julie had really bad postpartum depression after the birth of both our kids. After Michael was born, Julie was referred to a really great psychologist named Dr. Jan. Jan helped Julie immensely, and we will be forever grateful to her for helping us through such a difficult time. At this point, Julie had been married to me and living with me for about 3 years. She noticed behaviors with me that I guess I never even really noticed in myself. I would worry obsessively about certain things. I would purchase things in large quantities, then only to turn around and then purge a great deal of it (only to wind up re-buying a lot of what I purged). I would go into sometimes whole weeks of just being down. The worst part was: these behaviors seemed to get worse with each passing year.
Julie recommended that I go to Dr. Jan - just to talk to her about my feelings, my past family history with my dad, and all that. I went, very unwillingly at first, but over time I saw that it was helping. Dr. Jan asked me if I'd take some psych evaluation tests. Based upon the results of the test, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) couple with high anxiety. I'm not a "hand-washer" or anything like that - I am more on the C side of OCD, where I obsessively think and fret over things to the point where it really interferes with my life.
It's hard for me to explain how I feel when I am anxious. I can't sit still. I feel like I am crawling out of my skin. I don't want to see anyone or be anywhere. I can even get short of breath. It's quite awful. I did a good job of hiding this from people a lot over the years. A "fake it till you make it" approach. But I couldn't always fake it. Several of the times I backed out of things last minute, it was due to my anxiety. And, it really interferes with my job: A job that I started out loving almost killed me. When I am doing well, I like my job. But when I am anxious, going in to teach is like torture.
Dr. Jan wanted me to start some medicine to compliment my therapy. I was very, VERY reluctant at first, but decided to give it a try. I tried a total of 4 different medications over the course of the last 8 years, including Prozak and Lexipro, and nothing seemed to work. Actually, the meds WOULD work for about 2 weeks, but then the effects would fade. It was beyond frustrating. I also bounced between 3 different psychologists and two different psychiatrists. Therapy helped me, but my real need was to find a good medicine to help me feel normal on a consistent basis.
Fast forward to last December. I started taking the generic Effexor. It worked differently than the rest of the meds I tried - it targeted my nuro-epinefrin (sp?) levels instead of my dopamine levels. The results were fantastic at first. I went about three months without any seriously high levels of anxiety. I was loving my job. Yeah, I had some "down days" and some anxious moments here and there, but everything was within the spectrum of normal. About a week before Easter break, I noticed my anxiety levels rising. I thought it had to do with break being so close....that I was just burned out and needed some rest. Being a teacher is exhausting, so I thought it was just normal. However, about midway through my Easter break, I crashed. My anxiety was through the roof. I called my doctor and my psychologist, and we all decided to double my dose of Effexor. I canceled going to Table Top Day, even though I felt horrible doing so. Out of frustration and desperation, I decided to call Cleveland and try to see a psychiatrist there. I have an appointment on April 30th. Since last weekend, I've noticed that my levels are a bit better. I was able to go to work yesterday and today. I am hoping my increased meds are now working. But, because of my track record of eventually losing the benefits of my meds, I am definitely keeping my Cleveland appointment. I am hoping and praying that the doctors there can find the right combo of meds to help me.
So that is the slightly-long short version of the last decade of my life. I wanted to share it all with all of you, because you guys are my friends. Thank you all so much for standing by me and supporting me with this. It has been a tough journey. I really thought the journey was over, too, after I started the Effexor. When it worked pretty well for like 3 straight months, I thought the cross I was carrying was finally gone. Well, now it is back. I know that this cross will lead to some good for someone someday, and there have indeed been graces that have come from my suffering, but I really long for the day that it is gone forever.
So please everyone: Continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I will update this post with new news as it happens. Thanks again fellas. Peace and God bless.