Felicitations Newsletter #7
Let's talk about my brain and my butthole
This last week I got a bidet and tried to get off my brain drugs. I will attempt, in this newsletter, to somehow find connective tissue between these things.
First, the brain drugs. I’ve been on Lexapro for 16 months now. It was a last resort step to help me work through my anxiety and insomnia that literally wiped 2018 and 2019 out of my memory. I’ve always been anxious (REALLY, FELICIA?!?) but after having a baby, all the things that affect my brain started spiraling into bigger and bigger issues. As a former 9-hour-a-night sleeper, having a kid who couldn’t sleep more than 2 hour stretches was…problematic. Like, you know that feeling you get when your heart jumps into your throat when you’re startled by a fake scare in a horror movie (which is absolutely why I don’t watch horror movies)? That’s what I would feel 10000 times a day after I had a baby. Day and night. An errant bill came in? JUMP. I can’t find my wallet? JUMP. The cat farted behind me? BIGGUN JUMP. Even if my baby was sleeping soundly, I would startle awake at the slightest noise, twenty times a night, which, in the wake of NO uninterrupted sleep, led to my becoming more and more panicky. Eventually I started feeling like a guitar string that would start vibrating wildly in the face of the slightest amount of stress. “We don’t have oranges?!?! HOW CAN I MAKE OLIVE OIL ORANGE CAKE?! GREAT! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE OF SCURVY!!'“
If you listen to my podcast Felicitations through this time period, you’ll hear a tired but chipper person searching for every solution that WASN’T prescription anxiety drugs to deal with my then-permanent insomnia. Meditation. CBD oil. Ashwaganda. Tapping my skull in weird places to lull myself into thinking I was in an alien deprivation tank. Quitting sugar, caffeine, screen time, everything wonderful etc. It was…hard. Even though nothing seemed to work that well, I kept trying to deal with the problem proactively. Mostly because it was embarrassing to have my memory break down to the point where I literally couldn’t find words when I spoke. “Here, Calliope! I found your….<insert 30 seconds of grasping for word>…TRUCK! It’s a truck! That’s it!” I needed help. Desperately.
I went to see a psychiatrist over the summer of 2019, but for some reason every single monthly visit coincided with my actually being able to sleep the night before. I would seem totally fine and it was SO FRUSTRATING! It’s like when you take your car in for a weird noise and OF COURSE the minute you’re at the dealership it’s running greaaaat! BAH. So basically the doctor was like, “I’m conservative on drugs, you don’t seem to need them.” And to be honest, I didn’t want them, so I didn’t press her. The idea of manipulating my brain with drugs was terrifying. I’ve never really drank or done drugs, and I’m a control freak extraordinaire, so clearly it wasn’t a solution I was jumping for. So the doctor prescribed me a drug called Klonopin, which I could use for occasional sleep use, but OF COURSE it didn’t work for me, just made my brain even more bouncy like Tigger from Winnie the Poo. “You’re gonna get to sleep, you’re gonna be great! GO GIRL! HIP HIP HOP HOP WHEEE!” So THEN I went to my gyno, who put me on progesterone because she was like, “I know you’re young, but it could be you’re in early pre-menopause because your cycle is going crazy, let’s try hormones.” And THAT made me feel old as f*%&, but I starting taking the pills, and they helped…a little. But I still couldn’t even sniff at caffeine or sugar or play a video game or watch a movie or anything tense at all before bedtime without totally throwing myself off. It was hell, y’all. I was in jail, held hostage by my own brain. I now see why women were sent away in ye olde days “for nerves”, because that was what it felt like. I was a strung so tight, it felt like I could snap at any time.
LONG STORY SHORT (because this could totally be a chapter in a book one day), I went to a new GP for a physical with complaints about acid reflux, constipation, sleeplessness and a litany of other things (I was sure I had a heart murmur, check me out, doc!) He was like, “You need anti-anxiety drugs before I can treat any of this. Try Lexapro.” And I was so desperate I finally jumped at it. “PLEASE SIR, I’LL DO ANYTHING!” After a month of adjustment, which was not easy, I kept with it and…it clicked. I could sleep! I was actually TOO sleepy, but I adjusted my dose to 10mg/5mg alternating and…it worked. I ACTUALLY WORKED AGAIN!
For once in my life I wasn’t scared all the time. I could sleep. I approached things not from utter panic but from…being okay with myself? I got off the progesterone and it turns out the lady cycle problems were part of the anxiety stuff. For the first time in my life I didn’t have acid reflux at the sight of bacon (sweet bacon!) and I started seeing a therapist intensely and was able to work through a lot of issues because I could SEE myself clearer. COVID unplugging me from a LOT of things I was forcing myself to do that I didn’t want to do helped immensely, too. Fast forward to March 2021. When everything’s going great. I could work out and do hobbies and juggle more than one job again, so I decided, “HEY I DON’T NEED THESE ANYMORE!”
For the record I DID consult the GP. He was fine with it, but I didn’t consult my therapist, because I had stopped seeing her last year because I WAS FEELING SO AWESOME AND WE HAD NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT DURING OUR SESSIONS. Sigh. Bad move.
The GP advised me to go down to 5mg a day and then said, “after a month just quit” because that was basically a placebo dose. WELLL it might be a placebo dose for less sensitive, neurotic people but…NOT ME! I’m special! I won’t go into detail, but after 5 days it all came back with a crash. The body exhaustion. The brain-won’t-calm-down stuff. And of course I panicked, because I have PTSD from those years of not being able to sleep, so laying down became a game of chicken of whether my brain or I would win. (It was always my brain.) I was teetering on the brink of returning to a hellscape existence, and I couldn’t figure out how to deal with it.
After 5 days of continual insomnia I faced a choice: Ride the withdrawal symptoms out to completely get off the drug, or go back on it. I thought about it, REALLY thought about it, and asked a lot of people close to me who wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. “This is your decision!” Smart. So then…I started taking Lexapro again. 5mg. That night, after a week, I slept again. It was wonderful.
So does this make me a drug addict? I mean, I guess technically I was going through withdrawal? Or was that my real brain finally able to lift its neurotic head like a wild horse in a bridle and scream, “IM FREE LETS RUN, FELICIA!” I dunno. All I know is that I’m happy my body is calm again.
I’m struggling with the idea of whether I ever NEED to have the goal to get off meds one day or not. I mean, I can’t go back to that life of no sleep and being worried about the future day in and day out. But I also know that I grind my jaw REALLY badly on this drug and my motivation to create got stronger when I lessened my dosage. So it’s hard, but it’s also something I don’t have to think about right now. I just know I’m not willing to go back to a point where I’m a glass animal just waiting to be shattered again. I need to know that my brain won’t betray me again before I even try to go off this drug. And I DEFINITELY need the help of a therapist to do that. (Note to self: Call her!)
So, long story short, my brain is good now. On the other hand my butthole is GREAT! I got a Toto bidet with a seat warmer and WOW it’s the best, ya’ll! I was scared to squirt water up there at first, but it’s fiiiiiiiiine. I mean…more than fine!
How am I gonna tie these two topics together to wrap this newletter up? Well…uh, for all body parts, you gotta figure out what works for you. And not change anything without thinking it through A LOT and getting some help with the decision. I never knew my brain and butthole could be so happy. I won’t be changing the program anytime soon upstairs or downstairs without a DAMNED GOOD REASON.
WEEKLY RECIPE: Creamy Tomato Risotto that tastes like Spaghetti O’s!
If you need old book illustrations for newsletters and stuff, here’s the site for it! How can you pass up pics like this:
These Etsy needlepoint planets are so gorgeous, I know they’re $$ but wow.
Personal Links (Also Interesting):
My Twitch streaming schedule is HERE. I’m currently playing Grounded, Ooblets, GTA: V and Among Us.
Last chance to grab NEW t-shirts from The Guild! A portion of the proceeds go to Able Gamers.
Tom Lenk and I just released the Undressing Bridgerton episode about Season 1 season final, our next episode is discussing differences between the book and the TV show! Read and then listen along with us!
I’m hosting an author event with Charlie Jane Anders Tuesday April 20th, 4pm PST on her new book Victories Greater Than Death (Which is great!)
Lastly, spread word if you like my newsletter! I love writing it for you!
Will be moving newsletter before next one, look for inbox for transfer info, you won’t need to do anything FYI.
See you in two weeks, and on my Discord channel in between for chatting and friendship! <3