Monday, November 7, 2016

To Be Honest

Remember when I shared with you about my time on Zoloft and how it caused me to act in a way that was unlike me? Then I got off of it for a few months, but I was having anxiety attacks and depression again, so my doctor put me back on it. I began to not care again and it freaked me out to feel that way so I told her to take me off and then she said, "Let's try Wellbutrin."

Well that didn't go so well either.

If you didn't get a chance to read about it, you can here.

Other than gaining 50 lbs between the two medications, I was doing okay on it for maybe the first month. As time went on I began having very dark thoughts. Every time I saw a sharp knife I would have impulsive thoughts to harm myself. It scared me so much cause I've never had thoughts like that my entire life. But it made me think of my best friend of years ago.

I remember when we were in our early twenties she got on anti-depressants. One day while having lunch at Yaya's she confessed to me that she was taken off Prozac because every time she saw sharp knives she would have the same impulsive thoughts as I did. I was such an ignorant person because I thought it was just a case of "mind over matter." I remember telling her "can't you just tell yourself to not have those thoughts?" I was so stupid. So insensitive. I had no idea the power of these kinds of drugs. Her situation got so bad, she ended up in a mental hospital for a year because of it.

Fast forward 20 plus years, I find myself in a similar situation.

One of my last therapy appointments, we were discussing forgiveness. Big topic for me as you know, since I wrote about it twice. My first one was called Forgiveness is Friggin' Hard and my second one Forgiveness, A Sigh of Relief. Obviously I'm still wrestling with it 'cause I'm still talking about it to my therapist.

So this forgiveness thing, what I've recognized is in my heart I'm saying, "I choose to forgive..." But mentally and physically I remember the pain I endured over the thing I'm trying to forgive them for.

I've also taken notice how I feel when certain anniversaries come around. Now anniversaries are suppose to be wonderful reminders of happy times. But when it's a break-up or death or accident or any other kind of trauma, it's anything but wonderful. My therapist calls them triggers.

So as I was sharing with my therapist about all the anxiety I'd been having from the upcoming anniversary of my dad's death, she recommends a book,


I definitely will be talking about this book in an upcoming post but since I'm only a chapter in right now I'll just share this quote,

"Trauma, by definition, is unbearable and intolerable. It takes tremendous energy to keep functioning while carrying the memory of terror, and the shame of utter weakness and vulnerability. 

We all want to move beyond trauma, the part of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival (deep below our rational brain) is not very good at denial. Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones. These post traumatic reactions feel incomprehensible and overwhelming. Feeling out of control, survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption." 

Another anniversary just passed. It was the anniversary of going to jail. This time last year I was still in the county jail. Those were the few months I had gotten off Zoloft. Oh they offered for me to get back on it, but it wasn't until 6 days had passed and I had gone through all the withdrawal symptoms. I was feeling more clear headed than I had in an entire year. Unfortunately it took me going to the depth of despair to get me off of it.

I can't explain the trauma that I endured while there. I equated it with being in Hell. If any of you had the displeasure of spending time in your local jail, you know the anguish there.

Now I'm sure some of you are wanting to know what in the world did I do to land myself there, well that's the million dollar question I'm still asking myself. Since it's been a year, I've pondered it often. I feel the lack of caring or judgement I grew to have being on Zoloft put myself in a position to do reckless things. Hey, I'm the "rules" girl. The "safety first" girl. The "Just say no to drugs" girl. I'm the one that wanted to serve in the church "all the day's of my life."

Of course I know some will say it's bull-shit to blame it on an anti-depressant, 'cause that would take any responsibility away from me right? Well as I've gone back a hundred times, trying to figure out how in the world did I end up in that predicament, that was so unlike myself, behavior's that were completely out of character for me, it's the only reasonable explanation.

This past week a young mom of three was sentenced to 3 weeks of jail time and will most likely face more as she goes in front of a different judge tomorrow morning. About 8 years ago, she and I took college classes on the same campus. She was the braggy type and was going on about how smart she was and how many smart classes she was taking. But as I learned she recently ended up in jail I asked her family, "What was the change in her behavior?" They proceeded to tell me she was put on Zoloft and it wasn't until after that she begun to act in an irresponsible way. They also added that my father-in-law's uncle, a retired millionaire from General Motors began to shop lift after he was put on Zoloft.

Like Holy sh@#!

Three different cases of reckless, impulsive behavior by individuals who were extremely responsible prior to taking the meds.

Now had I not gone to jail and gotten off of it that way I may not have put two and two together.

As I've been researching the effects of this drug, I came across these testimonies on a depression forum:

"My husband has been taking Zoloft for 4 months. At first he started out behaving strangely after 2 weeks, Ignoring my phones calls, being very distant and wanting to be alone. The Dr. said that he just needed some time for the drug to get into his system. Now after 4 months, I never know who is coming home. One week he is affectionate (although no interest in sex) and then next week, he is hateful and starts arguments. He goes off to be alone and ignores our children. His friends notice this so it is just not me. He likes the drug, because it makes him feel less tense at work. I am wondering why he is on this pill and not just a nerve pill??! I hate this drug and what it is doing to our marriage. I feel I may be divorced because of this drug..yet he takes it like gold. Anyone feel like this or has a spouse taking this?"

Here's another account from a former law enforcement officer:

"I was on Z from 1995-1997. During that time I had just about every single side effect mentioned on this and every page of side effects. My formerly involved, conscientious self became uninvolved and careless. I began shopliftling compulsively and was finally arrested. I was a law enforcement officer with an untarnished record with the department. I couldn't have cared less about what I was doing. After my arrest, I could only cared about whether or not I'd get Zoloft in jail. Going off the meds was tough, but the zapping and the hyper-emotionalism finally went away. My life as I know it was destroyed and I moved to another stated and started reassembling me."

Just blown away by these testimonies. I know everyone responds differently to the medication but if people are having extreme side-effects like this then it probably should be taken off the market!

I had similar symptoms as these two individuals. Withdrawn, irritable, not wanting anything to do with my family, going off alone, ignoring people-family and friends included, being very distant. And then there was the tipping of the scale, experimenting in illegal activity. Smh

I'm sure I will continue to discuss my time in more detail in future posts, but I have been immensely guarded since going through all of it. My family suffered. My kids. My grandkids. My sister. My mother. Especially my husband suffered greatly. They suffered. I suffered.

When you've never even spit side ways on a side walk, to be handed such a harsh sentence for a first time offense is crushing to say the least. We were shattered to pieces. Felt more like being blown up. You try to put the pieces back together as they once were but you discover you're different. And you can't. It's not that you don't want to, because you're desperate for familiarity, but you simply can't. You are not the same. More like somewhat of a mangled mess. Learning to walk with a limp is difficult. But you hobble along the best you can.

Glennon Doyle Melton, a.k.a Momastery, is someone I discovered around the first of 2016. I have admired her as a truth-teller, pressing through the raw wreckage of her own life. When she announced on her blog that her and her husband were separating, only a few weeks from her newest books release date, the book that was about the redemption of her marriage, she wrote honestly. I certainly was disappointed. And I thought, "What a fraud!"

See I like fairy tale endings. So my response was more about me than her. But if she was a fraud, I was a fraud. I am the last person on earth that is in no way fit to be any kind of judge of what she chooses to do with the pain she's endured in her life. However, the more I read, the more I felt a kindredness to her. She spoke of not only her own suffering but her families. And from the many posts I've shared, I'm a sucker for suffering.

Glennon shares, "If I don't mention something, it's not because I forgot to. It's because I desperately have to find the balance here between honesty and a tell-all. Between transparency and responsibility. What I owe you and what I owe myself. There will be parts of this story I (try to) keep for myself and my husband and kids. If you can, please resist assumptions, gossip, or asking for details I haven't provided."

So yes, I will keep some of what I went through as a private matter. And that will have to be okay.

You may ask, why share this now? Because I've been to hell and back. I've been abandoned by those who said they loved me. I've been deleted, blocked, unfollowed, unfriended, and I don't want anyone to ever, EVER feel alone during their darkest times.

Lysa TerKeurst shared this on her Facebook yesterday and I felt a resounding "Yes!"

"Just because I've been hurt doesn't mean I now have to live hurt. I can get mad and bitter and spread more hurt around. Or, I can choose grace and gentle responses and spread more hope around.

Hurt people, hurt people.
Healed people, heal people.
And I want to be in that latter group."


This is THE only reason I'm sharing this. 'Cause who the H wants to even whisper their most shameful times of their life. We all F up in life. No one is perfect. And so, IF we say we're Christians, then we better start walking like we are and come alongside the outcast, the poor, AND the broken and be Jesus to them, who loves each and everyone of us scandalously!

Until next time, Peace and Love,
Julie