So it's been a few weeks since the cavity that was causing a majority of my problems was discovered and taken care of. Most of my symptoms went away – especially the ones doctors and specialists said showed I was suffering from clinical depression. But I'm not back to normal. Not yet.
As a test, I went with some friends to see the latest Bond film. I figured if I could sit through that without problem, then I would be good to see Star Wars with my daughter (our family won a pair of tickets to an opening day screening). I went in armed: ear plugs, Xanax, breathing exercises, and an escape plan. I ended up not having to use the escape plan, but I did use everything else. The excitement and thrill of an action movie (yes, SPECTRE did have exciting parts) overloaded my system and activated the flight-or-flight reflex several times. Very uncomfortable. So I enjoyed the movie, but the theatrical experience was a constant struggle to stay calm.
The problem is that my adrenaline is being activated by anything the least bit stressful… whether I enjoy the activity or not. This means I've had to give up things I usually enjoy. Listening to an audiobook about the son of a serial killer? Can't do it. Watching a TV show about a time-traveling alien? Nope. Playing with my kids? Too much. Taking care of my family and home? Practically impossible.
I've been taking an "as needed" drug that's been tremendously helpful, especially keeping the night time anxiety down and allowing me to get sleep. It doesn't help with more exciting events, but smooths over general stresses of everyday life. It's addictive in the long run, so I need to get off of it soon. Hopefully, I'll find a non-addictive replacement this week and see how it goes. Anti-anxiety drugs have a that-drug-didn't-work-let's-try-a-different-one-repeat-as-necessary reputation that I'm not looking forward to.
But unless something changes, no Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater for me. It will mark the first time since 1977 that I missed a theatrical showing of a Star Wars movie (my excuse is that I was three at the time). It may not be as important as getting back the ablity to take care of my family, but it shows just how much my life has changed.
Yes, this sucks.
But in reading Felicia Day's book and learning about what she had to deal with, it makes me realize how lucky I am. I was very afraid that I would be heading down the depression road. Having found out that something physical was causing many of my problems is such a relief and I now have hope that the remaining anxiety can be defeated. It just going to take a little time.