Vent

Strap in, this is a long one. 

I have always had anxiety. All my life it has been there, lurking and grasping me around the throat to hold me back from the things I wanted to do. As a child, I wanted so badly to put my ring in the hat for a school play. Anxiety held me back. In high school, I joined the basketball team, but anxiety caused me to drop out before the first game. 

Now, I have had a choking phobia since I was around 17-18 years old and I choked on water. I am talking hardcore choking, I was drowning in it. Couldn’t breathe, every time I gasped for breath, a horrible sound came out. It was utterly traumatizing and it caused my liquid intake to go down. It made public meals torture. 

But three years ago, my anxiety hit the roof. We had in-laws living with us at the time that I wanted out. They had been with us for far longer than the “few months” they promised. Try six years. Years. Every day, I was waiting for a “normal” to return that never came. 

Many of my beloved pets became terribly ill in a short span of time and passed away. At the time, I recently had wisdom teeth removed and had to be on soft foods only for a month because of complications (they punctured a hole into my sinuses). 

I couldn’t eat afterward. I was hungry all the time. Ravenous. All I could think about was food. My stomach growled constantly and I always felt dizzy, weak, and lightheaded. Yet whenever I would try to eat something, my throat would close up and I would gag and spit the food out. 

I cried out of frustration, terror, and a growing sadness. 

I lost 65 pounds. 

I weighed as much as a 10-11 year old child. I was in 70~ area at 5’7” tall. 

I hated what I saw in the mirror. It terrified me. I was skeletal. 

I didn’t know it but my mom told me later that she called my aunts and cried about me. How scared she was that I would pass away. My sister worried about me. My brothers were at a loss. My husband felt helpless. He told me he was going to hospitalize me if I couldn’t help myself. 

I reached out and finally found mental health professionals. They prescribed me an antidepressant and upped my dosage of Ativan, which I only used previously for the dentist because of my severe dental phobia. 

One day, I was absolutely exhausted and starving and I had to eat. But I just kept sobbing over my food and spitting it out. I took ativan because I was desperate. But ativan saved my life. 

Every morning, I took 2mg and I could eat. It wore off around 3pm but I was able to eat regular breakfasts and lunches. My weight steadily went up. 

I soon had a team around me, rallying around me. I had a therapist that helped me cope using cbt. I had a dietitian who helped make what I did eat count. 

During this whole three year recovery, my psych had me on every antidepressant you can name from Prozac to Viibryd. None of it really did anything for me.  Some of them made things worse. Ativan continued to be the lifesaver. 

But my doctor didn’t want me to stay on it. I know the risks involved with benzos. But not even other benzos worked like Ativan did. Not Valium not Xanax not klonopin. My doctor kept messing with my medications.  She wanted me to be on anything except ativan. I tried her alternatives but nothing worked. 

Now I have a new doctor and she switched my ssri to a srni. Not. Working. All the while, for the past year and a half, I have have to fight with my doctor over ativan refills. At two points she was late getting back to me and the cold turkey withdrawals were horrible. 

If they would work patiently with me, I could titrate off but they are really messing with my head and body when they force me to go without over a weekend.  

This week was another fight for a refill. I just want to be done with so-called mental health professionals. Therapy and my dietitian did more for me than my psychs ever did. 

I wish I never even went to a psych. Going to force myself off drugs but I admit that I am terrified of losing weight and the ability to eat again. 

Wheew.        

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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