Mother’s Little Helper, Pt. 2: Moving the Elephant

A couple of months ago, I asked my doctor for a prescription to help the awful anxiety that began to crush me. The Xanax helps immensely, but it’s not a good long term option.

Last month I had my yearly well woman exam. After talking with my therapist and nephrologist about safe options, I ran it past my gynecologist. All of them agreed Effexor would be a safe option for me to try with the fewest side effects. My fantastic gyno called in the prescription for the generic extended release version. Due to my poor kidney function and slow med clearance, I wanted to try the lowest dose possible. 37.5 mg capsules, here I come.

The capsules are pale pink and gray, a color combo that always reminds me of elephants. In a way that’s appropriate. The anxiety is certainly an elephant I couldn’t move on my own.

Venlafaxine ER 37.5 mg, generic for Effexor XR 37.5 mg.

While I know it can take 4 to 6 weeks to get the full effect, I can already feel a bit of a difference. Recently I had an extremely stressful day, and I got through it with little difficulty and no Xanax. I call that a win.

The big issues I’m dealing with now are migraine, nausea, and insomnia. I have a feeling that’s just the adjustment period. For that, there’s morning coffee and a cat nap in the afternoon until I adjust. I consulted with the pharmacist about best times to take it. I’ll try taking it earlier on a “slow” day.

At first I was reluctant to share the mental health portion of this journey. Was it the kidney blues or regular depression? I mean, couldn’t I just deal with it? Even though I’m a huge proponent of mental health being just a part of regular health, I too struggled with the stigma. I didn’t want another label. G-d knows I don’t want another doctor.

Taking the two months off to heal the broken foot didn’t exactly promote good mental health. I had way too much time on the couch to contemplate everything, while I was physically unable to do much about anything. I’m so much happier with a task. Idleness is not a friend of mine.

Part of breaking the stigma is normalizing mental health care. I can help normalize this by sharing my story. It doesn’t really matter what caused my anxiety/depression spiral. I mean, my goodness, anyone who’s had the year I’ve had would need some help. In hindsight, I should have asked for better drugs earlier, but oh well. I have them now.

Time will tell how well this prescription and strength will work, or how long I’ll need it. Right now, though, I’m glad I have something in place. With a little chemical complement, the coping mechanisms work again.

The elephant of my illness is still with me, but now I can coax her to scoot over and not occupy the entire room.

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