Membership Medicine Part III: Things Have a Way of Improving When You're at Your Lowest
Updated: Mar 7
They say things have a way of getting better once you're at your lowest. I experienced this very phenomenon this past fall.
It’s crazy to think how much my situation has changed since my last quarterly visit in October after I was so down and out (though still hopeful) after my ectopic pregnancy. Now I’m four months along with our baby girl, with all our testing going well!
It's always good seeing Dr. Sadel and the rest of the team at Preservation Health! They make going to see the doctor a more enjoyable experience.
I finally got more answers and the doc’s suggestion in October to decrease my Zoloft dosage or ween off entirely likely only helped! I went from being drugged up on 125mg of my anti-depressant down to 50mg and am feeling great! I’m much less concerned for my fetal echo cardiogram test than I would have been before, and, as Dr. Sadel inferred, the Zoloft was likely causing my unexplained bruising and increasing inflammation in my body. Only when you have the time to lay your whole situation on the table can you really get some answers. Most of my anxiety lately is more situational anyway, and no drug can really help when you’re worried about money, for example.
A few years ago, I was also on about 1-2mgs of Ativan daily, plus Wellbutrin. Oh, and a glass of wine several days a week, plus eating lots of sugar. I don’t think my former choices were doing me any good — only making my then-undiagnosed endometriosis much worse. Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve loosened up on the diet, but once you become mindful of what you put in your body, it’s hard to go back to exactly what you did before. Like that whole packet of sugar / sugar substitute I’d dump in my coffee every morning. Nope, done with that.
Additionally, any anxiety or depression you have may even be caused by some other underlying factor — in my case, I had a thyroid disorder I never knew about til 2018 — which causes anxiety and depression and can exacerbate any that exists. Though I do not believe that these conditions are the sole cause of my anxiety, they did make it worse.
What I also love about Preservation Health is that Dr. Sadel shares a similar perspective as I do when it comes to medication in general and the use of holistic approaches, which is this: Medicine can be extremely effective when it's truly needed — but it's best to look to more natural approaches first. If they don't help, then meds are another option. Or, if you have an extreme case of, for example, chronic sinusitis, where, in my case, it's okay to prescribe / take a steroid such as Prednisone if you don't see any improvement when you have a severe sinus infection. Unfortunately, this is an issue that can be highly politicized, where people are labeled as "I forgo all modern medicine" hippies vs. those who scoff at anything natural or holistic because there isn't enough research to support its use. I believe the best approach incorporates a bit of both, but then that's me: I'm not a black/white person. I see lots of gray. My perspective -- and that of Dr. Sadel — is somewhere in the middle.
When it comes to controversial meds that have numerous side effects, my perspective is this: Meds can be lifesavers when you absolutely need them (I don’t think I was strong enough to go without years ago), but when you’re out of crisis mode, there are other options that may be more helpful for you over the long term.
I even told this to a friend recently who was concerned about taking Ativan for her anxiety at all. As someone who took Ativan (the same as its generic form, Lorazepam) from ages 24 to 36, I am glad to be free of the crutch. And while I may never go back on it again (I say may because you never know what life can bring), I would never tell someone to stay away from it completely if they absolutely need it. How would you know? If you're in the middle of a crisis and can barely function and need to just get through the day, that's when. However, the drug's quick acting effects make it pretty addictive, so my advice is to be mindful that you are only taking it if you absolutely need it, and never take more than a prescription dose.
In my friend's case, her anxiety seemed to make her physical health worse. This then affects your mental health — it's a never-ending cycle. In that case, you may need to, as I like to say, "hit it hard." I'm all for natural approaches, such as essential oils and acupuncture, but these things may not help in severe cases. If nothing else seems to help, and your anxiety is making everything else worse — and you're in a crisis state — anti-anxiety meds, such as Ativan, can be "your friend." Just be aware that this is one of those fair-weather, potentially toxic friends — you know the type: They are tons of fun in the short-term, but cause all sorts of drama in the long-term.
For me, this has all been a lengthy process for sure — after all, there's a reason I refer to my experience as a "quest." My quest involved not only my goal of getting pregnant but also my commitment to get my physical and mental health in check and shift to healthier habits, which resulted in a lot of learning and self-growth. All I know is… don’t take anything at face value… keep looking… keep digging… trust your gut… and you should eventually get the answers you seek!
Have you had a similar experience you'd like to share? A similar or differing perspective based on your own experience? Let me know in the comments!