Shortly after the new year began, I received notice that I had gotten into the school I applied to. Of course, this was pretty late notice so I had to scramble to get my act together to start this semester. I had been dubious last year about the prospects of my returning to school in the spring of 2016...or EVER, especially after another breakdown led me to drop out of the two courses I tried to take last fall. I just felt sick of school and doubted my ability to ever go back.
By early January, though, I was starting to feel better. I spent October of 2015 weaning off of Zoloft since I found out in the summer that my body doesn't process SSRIs well. By January, I think the stuff was mostly out of my system (finally!). Also, I had started on a supplement called SamE that my psychiatrist recommended in what ended up being our last appointment together (Hasta la Vista, no hard feelings, as I once wrote...my mom really hates you though). It's actually something that your body produces naturally, unless you're like me and tend towards depression, in which case part of the problem may be that you don't make SamE (oops. Guess the bod missed that memo). You can't take the stuff while on an SSRI, it should be noted, and I'm taking it along with Deplin, an L-methylfolate, to help me process it because apparently I don't make that stuff either.
Being off the SSRIs, etc. that were most likely poisoning me and on the stuff my body lacks has definitely made a huge difference. It's a little sad, actually. Would I have even gone through that whole Semester from Hell had I not been on the Paxil? Even sadder, I was on the Paxil to make everything better. I really thought it was making things better. I do think it helped my social anxiety to some extent, but it seems quite evident now that it must have been at least part, if not all, of the problem last spring. Sadder still is the thought of how many other must be out there suffering unmedicated or incorrectly medicated or unresponsive to medication and needing a different sort of treatment.
In the fall, I was sleeping half the day, waking up in the early afternoon, and still feeling tired and having to take naps. I'm back to eight or nine hours and don't even need to nap. I have plenty of energy to get through the day and have finally been able to bake, something I always wanted to do in the fall but was far too drained.
I am back at school, limiting myself to one class, but it isn't a particular easy one. The time off gave me some perspective though, and I have made progress on shedding my procrastinator-y ways. I just finished a 12-page research paper which makes me extremely proud. In general, I feel less prone to despair and better able to have rationale, positive perspectives on life. I still feel pretty lost when it comes to my future, lonely, doubtful about whether I can do grad school, frustrated about still having doors shut in my face. I still have moments where I grieve the life and dream I lost of being at my old school and having friends and being involved. I still feel pangs of bitterness over the people who have left me behind, whether on purpose or by accident. But I no longer feel sick. And, now that I am feeling so improved, it is infinitely clear that I was ill before.
Mental health is important, even if you aren't ill, and I don't think I realized that until these last few months seeing my new counselor. Even though I am no longer sick, I have to be aware of my needs, drawing boundaries when it comes to stress and using mindfulness techniques to stay balanced and healthy that I wasn't able to when I was so sick because I was just so emotional.
I honestly thought even just a couple months ago that I would never get better or be able to live a functional life again. Occasionally even now I have my doubts. If you're in the same place, I hope this gives you some perspective and, well, hope.
Overall, I wouldn't trade my journey, long and steep though it's been. I have lost a lot, especially in the friends territory, which I am in the midst of working through, but how could I ever go back to not being able to empathize with an entire subset of the population that no one pays attention to? That suffer in silence! How could I surrender my chance to speak up for and to them? And there is a sort of peace in knowing that you have been emptied of everything yet still survived. That you have been completely derailed but have found a new track and are slowly beginning to chug away into a new sort of territory that isn't what you thought you would ever explore but isn't so bad after all.
Reminds me a bit of the lyrics I wrote for this song during my sophomore year after another really difficult semester that featured some serious depression and let-downs.
Stay strong, friends.