The chaos of the holiday season has left me little time to think or write over the past month. A few ideas have run through my head, but finding the time to put them to words has been near impossible. As the first week of the new year comes to a close I find myself with a little time and it has occurred to me that I have reached something of a milestone. It was at the end of December 2011 that I took my last Klonopin. I have now been flying without my anxiety safety net for an entire year.
There are many days that I miss those pills horribly. I don’t want to be back on them mostly because I never want to endure the withdrawal symptoms again, but the truth is I have been dealing with ever increasing levels of anxiety since I stopped the drug. I still find it ironic that the Coast Guard demanded I stop the drug in the name of safety, but without a doubt I would be less useful in a crisis without the medication than I was with it. This idea that the benzo somehow clouded my judgment just isn’t true. I functioned normally. Of course now I sleep like shit, which does affect my mental acuity, and suffer anxiety at the slightest hint of danger whether real or imagined. Oh yeah I am much safer now.
A few months ago I came to the realization that while I have been treated for depression for over ten years I really think the main problem was anxiety all along. The high levels of anxiety and the way it shuts off my access to the things in life that provide me pleasure eventually led to depression. I went to a therapist to begin some CBT to try and make some improvements, but it has taken many visits just to begin getting a handle on the best way to approach what is an unbelievably complex problem. The original visits focused on my Emetophobia, but a successful CBT approach to that problem has proven elusive, so we have begun focusing on some other anxiety sources. I have begun to have more pronounced problems with anxiety in public places, and we are going to try and focus on that.
The last couple weeks have not been too bad, which gives me some hope for the future. The plan is to develop a CBT strategy that will desensitize me to the false triggers and provide some coping mechanisms. I also have a medication management appointment in a couple weeks and I plan to speak with him about some possible adjustments to the drugs. He has mentioned adding super low doses of Zoloft to the current regime, but I am hesitant to try that because of the SSRI side effects. There has been a noticeable uptick in sexual activity within my marriage over the past several weeks and I don’t want to do anything to upset that. I suppose I will know pretty quickly if the Zoloft is going to be a problem and if it is I can just stop, but going down that road makes me nervous.
Feeling somewhat better has brought to light another unfortunate irony of anxiety. Yesterday I brought a part from a broken piece of equipment to a shop that would have the parts I would need to repair it. I didn’t really know all the details of the repair and the guy in the shop was super helpful in getting the stuff I would need and getting the thing back together. As he was gathering the parts it occurred to me that I couldn’t leave without making a scene, but that I felt okay. Okay that was until I went and analyzed the situation which caused the anxiety to flood in. It was a pretty mild event, and I controlled it by telling myself there was no danger and focusing in on what the guy was trying to show me, but the idea that the recognition of improvement triggered a problem is evidence as to just how deeply imbedded this stuff really is.