I started to write this because I’ve received many messages saying how happy and different I look now that we moved to the beach. Messages keep rolling in and people see a difference in me. That, my friends, is real news. I am insanely happy – but my pretty pictures of the Gulf don’t tell the whole story. This post will bring a little insight on what’s behind the smile, besides living in paradise.
Last week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Victoria Marcouillier, owner of Brandwell Designs, on her podcast (click here if you missed it). We went into many convos about when you have a platform to connect with others, you take a risk talking about real life +you take a risk NOT talking about real life. In my space, I want to ensure that you take my stories to use as encouragement and hope and in doing that, I think its important to always share (sometimes overshare) –what is behind the smile. Thank you so much for being here and reading along.
This was hard to write and push to publish. It was hard for the fear of judgment, fear of worrying someone, and just plain fear. But, if I can spread hope, spread truth, encourage, and make one person feel less alone, the fear runs away.
I want to start with a few things before I share and dump my truth on this little word document regarding my journey on medication.
First, I want to acknowledge the fact that medication can change lives. I have seen it single handedly change mine and family members’ lives for the better. It is NOT lost on me that if prescribed and monitored carefully, medication can work miracles. That being said, what works for me- may not work for you. What is my journey, may not be yours and THAT is okay!
I am NOT a medical professional – this is just my story.
I am merely sharing with you so that my truth can help you, serve you, and also serve myself in a therapeutic way. I am in NO way trying to sway you away from medication.
Now thats out of the way- let’s dive in.
Here is a chapter in my book:
I talk in depth about my journey to get on medication HERE – so feel free to read again, catch up or just fast forward. I discuss the depth of my mental health story and how that changed when we were having twins– the last weeks of my pregnancy, the trauma whirlwind we felt while our newborn twins were in the NICU, my out of control hormones, switching to a different medication, finding my place and new identity as a SAHM, and coping with so many changes. It is a lot to unpack but the link can give you the backstory to now. Here we go!
I dug to find what I needed to do to calm the noise but it was a process, a process that I’ve accepted is ongoing. But—isn’t that growth? Starting my blog was a huge piece of it to help me cope. It was and is an outlet to be real, honest, creative, and have fun. Even though I did this to serve, it still came with (and still comes with) judgment and opinions that I have to navigate to ensure it doesn’t mess with my head. This just makes more noise for me to calm.
Let’s discuss symptoms, s h a l l w e :
I was thrown on medication after having the twins because that was my doctors’ solution to dealing with my “LOT” at the time.
I got on medication and it intensified my symptoms + even brought new ones. I had to taper off of that medication immediately to switch to a new one. I was following the doctor’s lead. It was daunting and discouraging because that just delayed the time until I was supposed to feel better. After some time, I finally seemed to find a balance and dosage that felt right and where I didn’t feel like absolute garbage. Finally, I could be better for my family and my friends.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not mentioning medication names because everyone is different and what didn’t work for me may work for you. I am happy to discuss further if this sounds like your experience, please always feel free to message me here-I am an open book.
For a good year and a half I kept the same dosage I was provided, until I started to slowly feel like I was developing symptoms that I never had in the first place. At this point, I questioned why I went on medication to begin with because it was never THIS bad.
I gave myself grace because I am human, I’m getting older, and to be honest, during quarantine, I was not the gal that developed healthier habits and exercised my life away. It was quite the opposite- we enjoyed making a lot of homemade pizzas and margs. But, the thing is, I let the symptoms go on too long.
The symptoms kept snowballing, and my doctors continued to try different doses.
I was irritable – irritable doesn’t even seem like a strong enough word. I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. I was having intense hot flashes, which pairs well with the Florida heat like orange juice and toothpaste. I was having insomnia but also lucid dreams when I actually fell asleep. I was having intense anxiety, which led to OCD. I was nauseous at certain foods. I was insanely fatigued and foggy which made me feel like a crappy mom. I had chronic headaches and dizziness. I gained weight and I did NOT know where to start to face all of it. All I know is that my angel of a husband was there with patience and grace and continues to be my biggest advocate. It is NOT lost on me how hard this was on him. The poor guy couldn’t breathe in my direction without getting the wrath of Christin.
I then hit a wall because my symptoms, over time, were escalating. I lost any trust I had for medication and the process, and I went to my doctor to explain that I just did not feel like medication in general was working for me anymore. The doctor politely gave me a 4 minute pep talk throughout multiple appointments discussing the same thing. It always ended with a pat on the back as she told me that I needed to stay on it and give it some time. She tried to tell me “girl, you have twins, it’s hard, you need to stay on medication–have a great day and good luck with all that.”
2021 t a k i n g c o n t r o l
It was at that moment that I felt trapped. Maybe I had enough and maybe it was God telling me I was about to take the bull by the horns and that HE was the only one in control – probably both. That was it for me.
I made a call to my brother who had experience with many different medications and had gone through the painful process of tapering off of an SSRI. I was curious if he thought I could handle this taper myself since I was not having much luck (or hope) with professional help advising me off of it. His experience with this helped me drastically. He assured me that if I was very careful, implemented and maintained healthy changes in my life, and moved slowly and safely, I could wean off the antidepressants successfully.
DISCLAIMER: I want to be clear here- It can be dangerous to stop any SSRI or medication in general, cold turkey. I did have professional help and highly advise you seek medical counsel if you have questions.
So, I set out to purge medication. I went big and did it all – no birth control, no SSRI, nothing. I was scared to let go of what has leveled me out for years. This felt like going into battle without armor. It was quite terrifying. But, like I said, I knew I had to do it. I was held hostage and I was ready to be free.
t a p e r i n g o f f t h e m e d s
I picked a weird time to taper and I am not sure what I was thinking, I think I was just so anxious to tackle it. We decided that my husband was going to accept a new position 6 hours away and up root our family to beach life in the panhandle.
I knew my taper would happen during this process. Some probably would have waited, but in my mind, I didn’t have time to waste. 2 weeks after our move we had a wedding out of town and a trip to see family scheduled. It never seemed like a good time.
When I tapered and eventually ran out of my anti-depressants (SSRI), I felt like I was entering a world without metaphorical crutches. I was terrified that things would get messy without them.
Tapering began, and I was officially out of my medication during a trip to see family and friends in Eufaula, AL a few weeks after the move. Great planning on my part. I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the SSRI; I tried so hard to power through but also knew that was probably the worst timing, as I kept this all to myself and was most likely one bad version of myself.
Mood swings and emotional sensitivity were a normal reaction for the first week/month. I expected this but to me, crying over something small was actually something I had missed. On medication, I felt numb and I missed feeling my feels– that is just who I am. I am a “feeler” and to get that back was like air in my lungs.
I felt emotionally fragile and after some time it leveled out to my normal emotional self. I powered through some intense dizziness. If I moved my head too fast, I had to sit down. I also had the worst of migraines that nothing would fix. I will be forever grateful for my quick calls in the back room to my brother who pep talked me through these symptoms and reassured me they would subside. I held onto his every word and moved forward. It was hard to keep it together and not project the worst version of myself onto others.
I got home (which was a new location, a new everything) I changed my diet, I started being consistent and exercising, I got the recommended vitamins, magnesium, zinc and other natural agents to help with reducing discontinuation symptoms. I started fueling my brain with other things to feel better instead of living a crappy diet and popping pills.
Some resources that helped me:
Cleaning Up the Mental Mess – Dr. Caroline Leaf
Gradually, and pretty quickly I might add, I started to find myself again. I didn’t just feel like a watered down version of myself. I felt like ME.
It has been almost two months since the last pill, and finding the inner strength to manage my anxiety–especially the lows, has proven to me that I can always find the light for myself when it seems like I’m immersed in darkness. I am strong enough to deal with everyday stressors and I am also human and can have a bad day. We are all entitled to it. So yes, the beach life is treating us well but the “happy” you see is more than that. My head is clear, my emotions are back, and I am so much better for it. The smile is REAL.
r e a l i z a t i o n + r e f l e c t i o n
I realize that suppressing symptoms is like turning off the fire alarm – it might stop making noise, but the fire is still the same.
I realize your body continually gives you the signs and/or symptoms to reveal your state of health.
I realized that suppressing the symptom does not suppress its generator – it does suppress your body awareness and the message its trying to send you. My body was giving me a clear message that I could handle it on my own.
I rediscovered that if I am dealing with a reoccurring symptom, it is not present for no reason.
I have rediscovered the faithfulness of the Lord in my life.
I have realized that my body was asking for support on a deeper level and I learned how to listen.
I realize that when you go through hard things, even though you may feel like you are going into battle without armor, He is ALWAYS providing that armor.
I realize, I feel the strongest I have in a long time. I know the change of location for us was key but being free from medication was the final piece.
And when I think I did this all on my own, I realize the village that helped me reach my best. I also realize God did this. It puts a smile on my face.
T O Y O U
This is hope. Even if you don’t have the same journey or story, know that there is hope. God is in control, nobody else. Advocate for yourself. Write your story. You’re worth it. Once you take control, nobody can take that away from you. When you start to live for YOU, the narrative changes because it’s just that, YOURS.
Your journey is ever changing.
Let’s help each other be honest about it because
behind all of the pretty Instagram squares – there is a STORY
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