Ativan, friend or foe?

I was first medicated in January 2014. I remember the date well as I was in an anxiety cycle, caused by exclusion in one of my life circles. Exclusion has a been a trigger for my anxiety episodes since I was bullied in high school, for being too tall, too skinny, too outspoken, for a rumour about having sex with a teddy named ‘Rupert’.

My counselling therapy and going to Calmbirth during our pregnancy led me to understand that my thinking when a situation of social exclusion occurs, whether it be perceived or true, has worn anxiety responses reactions in the pathways in my brain*. I found this useful in understanding myself and now find solace and empowerment in that I have control over my anxiety reactions.

I was initially prescribed a medium dose of Citalopram accompanied by a small, episodical dose of Lorazepam because the short term side effects included anxiety and restlessness, even though ironically, the long term benefit of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), and the reason that I was prescribed them, is to reduce anxiety.

Photo on 27-12-2015 at 5.36 pm #2.jpg
…All the medicines
My GP advised that this medication is considered not safe during conception and the first trimester of pregnancy due to the limited research available, plus we all thought that I was managing my anxiety through exercise, diet and counselling.

Therefore I slowly weaned myself from the Citalopram. I remember the final day was when Mr. A. and myself were visiting relatives on the Central Coast. I was sitting at the kitchen bench enjoying a leisurely mid-Spring breakfast of muesli and coffee when I said something like,

‘so, should I just stop taking them now?’.

I had been on the lowest dose for about 2 weeks. It is funny the moments that my brain stores as ‘important memories’.

I found a note the other day from when I was pregnant, reminding me of things to write about on my other blog. One of the two points (my brain was not functioning very well during the end of our pregnancy) was that parenthood begins before you even conceive your child. The choices you make, like stopping anti-depressants, changing your diet and exercise, mending or breaking family bonds, all affect your role.

We made it through 14 weeks of hell; through the first trimester.

We were six weeks pregnant whilst on our honeymoon, and I was having daily anxiety episodes. I was spending a lot of time in our roof-top camper tent, clutching the place on my torso where my uterus lays, and crying, regretting our choice to have a baby.

I felt sick, exhausted, out of control. My head was on a reel of how endless the sickness felt, about how my body was no longer my own, how I was a terrible parent already. In that moment I hated being pregnant, I hated my growing baby.

When I read this post out to my husband, he went ‘oh’ at the end. Like it was sad. My intention is not to be ‘sad’, not to sugar coat, but to just tell as real as I can, the experience of being me, in this moment of writing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide please contact Lifeline immediately 13 11 14

*This is a nerd footnote…

Dr Joe Dispenza explains that, ‘Nerve cells that fire together, wire together… if learning is making new synaptic connections, than remembering is maintaining and sustaining those synaptic connections’ (it took me more than ten replays to get this quote, so please take the time to appreciate it!). My understanding is this: I learnt to react to exclusion by way of anxiety as a way to survive and protect myself, and every time that an exclusion situation arose, I reiterated this reaction, thus sustaining this pathway.

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