Monday, August 05, 2013

One Step Forward...


It's been a month exactly since I last wrote on this blog. Right now I can't say that anything much to do with weight loss has been going on in my life. My whole life has pretty much revolved around taking care of my mum while she battles lung cancer. It has been a lot more difficult than we anticipated because when she started chemo and radiotherapy a few weeks back it pretty much almost killed her. Less than a week after she started she had a heart attack and also got an infection and stopped breathing because the treatment was just too much for her. Luckily the ambulance arrived in time to get her breathing and she has been released from hospital and is doing a bit better now. There is not much more to say about that right now except that it is heartbreaking to watch a loved one be so sick, scared and in pain.

Everyday is scheduled with chemo, radiotherapy, blood tests,  psychologists, cardiology etc etc etc... this carer stuff is literally a full time job. Then I am still also working my full time job at night after mum goes to bed. I am working from home and basically just trying to keep my head above water so I don't get fired. I feel massively guilty all the time because I really don't think I am doing anything terribly well right now.

I made a very big mistake about 6 weeks ago when I decided I should go off my anti-anxiety pills (cymbalta). I have had a very tough time with them since I started them about 12 months ago, but it just never seemed like the right time to go off them. I was either busy at work, or had surgery or Christmas or holidays or a lot happening... there was always an excuse. Then when I found out about my mum's illness and that I had to look after her I knew I had to get off the pills so I could focus.

The side effects I had from the cymbalta meant that I could barely look after myself, let alone another person. I had terrible night terrors and sweats every night that haunted me through out the day. I had such bad insomnia that I literally fell asleep at work every single day for the last 12 months. I am not joking at all. Anyone who knows me in real life has had me fall asleep on them at some point over the last 12 months.

Me asleep at work, as taken by a colleague

It is awful to feel so out of control, but also so scared to stop taking the medication because they had given me peace of mind from my anxiety. For once in my life I didn't feel like the world was going to end, that everyone I love was going to die in a car accident, that my flat was going to burn down, that I was going to be fired because I am bad at my job, that everyone hated me and wished I was dead, that I was a horrible person and made people miserable. It was a hard choice to make, but I needed control of my life back, even if that meant going back to living with so much fear and anxiety.

It turns out that getting off the tablets was even worse than I had read about. I went through a horrible withdrawal and I am only now starting to feel like my old self. There is no doubt that getting off those tablets was harder than having weight loss surgery and a body life surgery combined. Firstly, the physical side effects: brain zaps, light/noise/pain sensitivity and the fact that withdrawal is mostly likely the cause of my falling down the stairs and spraining my ankle and getting the flu. I was also slammed with emotional side effects that really knocked my socks off. I became paranoid, angry, impatient, angry, mean... and even more angry.

I am normally a ridiculously patient and calm person. I can honestly say I have never raised my voice at anyone. I am definitely not a saint, but being angry and impatient are not in the (very long) list of flaws that I have. Unfortunately over the last month I have behaved extremely badly and I have felt powerless to stop myself...

I punched a traffic light when I missed my tram, I picked up my lovely laptop and smashed it on the table when it wouldn't connect to the internet, I gave a kid the evil eye twice for kicking the back of my seat, I snapped at the lady serving me in Myer, I hung up on a Citibank call centre person on two separate occasions, I made a rude gesture at someone who pushed in front of me on the train. Plus I have been generally short-tempered, mean, snippy and awful to be around.

I think I am 75% better now, all the physical side effects stopped after about 3 weeks, but some of the emotional side effects are lingering. This may be because my body has to learn to cope and be happy without the help of anti-anxiety/depression tablets. It might also be because I am under a lot of stress while I am caring for my mum, missing home and trying to keep up with work.

I am really glad I am off the medication now. I just wish I had done it 6 months ago when it became clear that they were not good for me. I am sleeping through the night without nightmares, the revolting sweats have stopped and the fogginess is gone. I love feeling back in control of my mind again and like I can get through the day without letting anyone down. I am more than a little ashamed that I have been so focussed on myself at a time when all my focus should be on helping my mum.

Things can only get better from here.


  1. You're an amazing daughter helping your mom...every Mom should be so lucky. There are other anti-anxiety meds you can try with little to no side effects so you wouldn't have to deal with such fear every day. I'll keep you in my prayers.

  2. Take each day as it comes and stay strong. Thinking of you. X

  3. Mate, I have no idea how you are keeping your head above water. You are amazing. Sending you all my love & positivity. Biggest Hugs.

  4. You are truly amazing...keep strong, hang in there. In my thoughts x

  5. Keeping your head above water AND caring for your Mum is a big load for anyone to have.

    I know all about getting off anti-depressants. I'm still on mine cos I can't cope with the side effects right now.
    Been there. Done that before.
    At least you have won that battle. So happy for you.
    You sure went through hell.

    Now deep breaths and know that the next few months with your Mum are going to be utter shit, for both of you... Make sure you ask for help when/if you need it... no one is expecting you to manage without help.

    {{{hugs}}} from across the ditch.

  6. I'm so sorry it has been so difficult for you. I'm sending you all good mojo your way. You are a wonderful daughter to take care of your mom.

  7. my heart goes out to you, you have a big load on your shoulders! I'm so sorry this is your burden right now, but kudos to you for taking it on

  8. My God, you are going through so much right now. You are amazing and inspirational. To have to deal with all that and being there for your Mum is incredible. Snapping at people, big whoop. Sounds like you needed to vent. You and your Mum are in my prayers. I look after my Mum who has dementia and I suffer from depression BUT its nothing compared with what you are doing. Glad you are keeping your head above the water. You are a diamond.

  9. Hi Tully. Just catching up on your blog. Wow, you are going through a tough time! I'm really sorry to hear it.

    I'm glad you finally went off the Cymbalta. It is a horrible antidepressant to come off. I'm surprised your doctor let you stay on them so long if they were giving you such bad side effects. There are so many different antidepressants out there that you should be able to find one that's positives outweigh the negatives. I feel like I've tried every drug under the sun to get the right mix for me. In fact I've only just made another change to my medication regimen.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say you are amazing. Your strength to push through such full on stuff... I know I would have crumbled in a heap.

    Good luck with everything. I really wish you the best.



Awww thanks so much for the comment!