Vox Hunt: Song In The Key Of Life

Audio: Share a song that fits the moment you’re living right now.
Inspired by cherè.

This may be a more “what I want to be” than a “what I am” kind of song, but it’s inspiring so I’m putting it here anyway.

Back in August 2004 – not long after this album came out – I started having health issues that I couldn’t figure out. My stomach was always hurting and my digestive system was all out of whack. I was always nauseated and never wanted to eat. I lost 30 pounds in less than four months. I went to my doctor several times and she kept putting me on different medications thinking it was an acid issue. It wasn’t, and didn’t go away with the meds I was taking (ranitidine and Prevacid). An upper GI exam revealed nothing.

Not knowing what was wrong with me was really beginning to freak me out. It began to get really bad in December when I started having anxiety attacks that were just making my stomach issues worse. When I told my doctor that, she prescribed me Zoloft and told me that it would help with the anxiety, and to start taking it on the weekend so I’d have a few days to get used to it while it was kicking in before I went back to work.

I spent the next few days reacting really badly to it. My palms would not stop sweating, the nausea would not go away, I was dizzy and every time I laid down to go to sleep I felt like I was actually lying on a 45-degree angle, which was really frightening. I went in to work on the Monday and by the time I got there I turned around and went home because I knew I couldn’t handle it. By this time I was phoning my mother every morning between 6 and 7AM because neither Sean nor I knew what to do about any of this, and I was beginning to feel like I was losing my mind. My mom reminded me that Zoloft (like most SSRIs) take a couple of weeks to really kick in and the side effects would diminish. I decided to go back to the doctor anyway, cuz the cure was feeling worse than the pain at this point. When Sean and I got off at the Bloor subway to transfer to the Yonge line, I looked at him and said “maybe I should just jump in front of the next train. That would be easier than all of this.” I really scared Sean, and myself at this point. I didn’t want to jump in front of the train, but the meds were fucking with my head.

When I got to the doctor’s office and was waiting my turn, my doctor saw me and told me to come right back (versus the usual procedure of waiting for a nurse to take me back to one of the examining rooms). I think she was surprised to see me so soon. I told her about the side effects I was having (I didn’t mention the thought of jumping in front of the train). Something in my eyes must have told her something because she told me to stop taking the Zoloft. She prescribed me a low dose of Ativan and told me to take it 1-2 times a day with half a Gravol (for the nausea) for the next few days, take the next 2 weeks off of work and come and see her in early January. (Did I mention that this was a week before Christmas by this point?) I went and got it filled and came home, ready to just go back to bed.

Once I started taking the Ativan, things began to calm down. I saw my family and hung out at Christmas and was almost normal. I stayed off of work for about 12 days, and returned in the quiet time between Christmas and New Years, which was a good time to do that. When I went back to the doctor, she referred me to a relaxation therapy clinic which I truly believe helped save my life. I went there for about four months. Each session began with a guided relaxation session which had the participants lying on cots in a darkened room with soothing music. The leader would then take us through simple stretching and breathing exercises, as well as meditations. The second half of the session was spent with the group discussing a different stress management issue each week.

Once I finished all the topics, I stopped going. I felt like a different person. Like I could handle things. My attitude changed. I really felt more relaxed in general, and more importantly, when I didn’t I could use the tools I learned to calm myself down and deal with it. It’s been just over two years since my nervous breakdown, and I haven’t had a relapse since. I’m not ashamed of what I went through, and told people about it when they asked where I’d been. What surprised me the most was just how many other people had been through it too. So many people I knew, of all ages and backgrounds, went through the same feelings of helplessness and got through it. You’d never know if you didn’t ask them and I admired their strength. I wouldn’t wish this kind of illness on my worst enemy.

When people asked why I thought it happened, I told them that the year had just worn me out. I had spent 2004 preparing for my wedding, getting married, dealing with roommate issues and going through an extremely stressful time at work. The second half of 2003 was spent looking for and buying our first home, and adjusting to the homeowner’s life and the joy and pain it brings. So the year before the symptoms first showed up was a little stressful, and looking back, I’m amazed at everything we pulled off.

This is a really long post to explain my choice for “song of the moment” for today’s Vox Hunt. But a line in this song that gets repeated over and over is “My nerves are made of steel”. When I was feeling fragile, that was something to aspire to. Now that I’m more aware of myself, I don’t necessarily want nerves of steel, but nerves of tin foil were no fun to have, and I don’t ever want to go through that again.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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