Continued from my post: ‘Anxiety is energy. Move it or transmute it.’
I’m going to share my first wobble since coming off Prozac. And it had to be on holiday didn’t it, in the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal. I’d been looking forward to the time I’d set aside to relax, be with my partner, be romantic. I’d packed not one but two lacey slips, but the truth is neither saw the light of day, let alone a wild night. So what went wrong?
It started with a nagging thought
‘I go to hold his hand more than he goes to hold mine’.
Yup, that was it. It seems so trivial now and yet in the moment it felt hurtful. I’d spent two hours getting ready for our first holiday date night and I couldn’t help but notice it was me that kept making the first move to be close, to touch. This observation ignited an old, familiar feeling. An inaccurate core belief, yet unrelenting: ‘I’m always the one who loves the other more’. I tried my best to push the thought aside.
A few hours later, after enjoying a local dish or two, we decided to take a walk to find a bar. In an effort to woo my fella, I’d donned strappy gold stilettos, not realising the streets would be quite so hilly — not to mention cobbled. Once again I went to link my beau’s arm, this time for balance. He propped me up but huffed and seemed a little irked, which he later revealed was because I was making my poor choice of footwear his problem.
It’s true, I was making my high heels his problem, but the wounded part of my in my defence. ‘You failed to hold my hand’ she cried ‘so now we’re going to test your love by seeing if you’ll help me stay upright!’ Surmount to say my fella failed the test. Wilfully in fact, because he could smell the desperation. Also because of his own emotional wounds. Set all the tests you like, my guy ain’t taking them, because he’s coped with life to date by doing it his way, almost exclusively. In therapeutic circles this behaviour has a name, they call it an ‘authority complex’. With a blister the size of a Pastel de nata however, I opted for ‘you cold-hearted, stubborn old mule’.
Oh, the power of a paranoid thought!
A single moment of ‘catastrophising’, of anxiously questioning who loved who the most, was enough to trigger a farcical downward spiral. It ended when my fiancé made a suggestion: perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to come off my medication after all. In his words, ‘it’s like a part of you tortures yourself when you’re not on Prozac’. Followed by ‘we get on so much better when you’re on meds’.
Drop the mic. He’d called it. And in my heart of hearts, I knew that he was right. For a blogger documenting her quest to come off Prozac, it was a bitter pill to swallow (no pun intended), but with reconciliation foremost in my mind I assured him ‘I’ll give it a month’.
For the remainder of our trip I sat with this idea, that if I couldn’t stop making anxiety his problem I’d go back on Prozac. I could see entirely where my partner was coming from, and empathised with the frustration he must feel watching someone he loves reject the ‘cure’. But that’s just it, I’m not convinced it is a cure. A mask? Yes. A sticking plaster? No doubt. I’d even go as far as saying anti-depressants have a place in our modern culture, where the common man is granted precious little time to reflect, heal, or follow his or her soul’s call. But a cure? No. Not in my experience, and I have more than ten years under my belt now being on meds — on and off and on again.
In my experience Prozac does indeed dampen down the worry, but with it every intuitive knowing and warning whisper emanating from your soul. ‘Say something’, ‘say yes’, ‘say no’. ‘Go there’, ‘change that’, ‘leave them’. While some intrusive thoughts are neither here nor there, others are meant to be heard. The ones that scream the loudest do not go away just because you’ve found a substance that silences them. Instead they sit there waiting. Waiting for an opportunity to seize your hand, shake you a little — or a lot — until you take heed and take action on that which you know deep down is for your best and highest good. That is my experience.
So forget giving med free living a month, I take it back. I recommit to trusting myself to handle this. Trusting my body and all the feelings and sensations it creates. Trusting that it’s feedback from the wisest part me, the deeper self that knows exactly what I do and don’t need to move through life with a greater sense of peace.
I recommit to being my own soul whisperer. To listening harder than ever before and trying to remember to respond with compassion.
So everything’s hunky dory now, right?
Frustratingly, no it’s not. My fella is not happy with my decision to continue trying to heal med-free, and has ran out of patience for any conversation on the subject. I don’t write that to paint an unflattering picture of him, he’s a very good guy. There was a great many years when he freely gave emotional support, but one thing’s very clear: that time has passed. He says it’s because his support did not actually improve anything, it did not help — only Prozac did. I hear his point and respect his need for boundaries. I also feel hurt. I hoped that all the strategies I’ve been employing to move through difficult feelings would be enough; like exercise, weekly coaching, eating well, journalling, and creative writing — and yet here I am. I’m tired of having to pour so much energy into something as simple as just feeling ok.
I feel angry too. At myself for not being further along with all of this than I am. And at being reduced to a diagnosis, like everything that comes out of my mouth is ‘just anxiety’. No. My feelings may be bigger when I’m off meds and I may not understand the root of them every time, but that doesn’t mean they’re lies. I’m starting to realise it's inconvenient for others when the lid comes off because it forces them to look at their role in the dynamic that you share when they weren’t expecting to and would rather not have to. I’d like to move from anger to compassion for my fella. I think that I can get there.
Time to regroup
Big breath. This doesn’t have to be the end of my med-free experiment. I can label it a ‘wobble’ instead and try to find the positives in the last few weeks:
- Despite my wobble, I have kept up eating well and keeping fit, which has given me a greater sense of control over myself and my life.
- Despite rowing with my man, we have also had some loving conversations. Plus I suspect I’m not the only one left reflecting on how they could be a better partner.
- Despite doubting whether I could stay off Prozac, this experience has also strengthened my resolve to try.
In addition to trying to be grateful for — let’s face it — an entirely unwanted experience, I’m going to need new strategies.
- I will re-write old stories around rejection with a new affirmation: “I am accepted and loved for who I am.”
- I will practice giving myself that which I most seek from others: loving kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. How? I’ll book a relaxing massage, and give myself a break from feeling bad about not being the perfect partner.
- I will reward myself for keeping going. You can’t buy happiness, but you can treat yourself as someone who is deserving, warts and all. Besides, there’s a handbag I’ve had my eye on for a while now ;)
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Disclaimer — This piece is not intended to offer medical advice. Its aim is to inspire and inform. Take what resonates with you.