Tag Archives: Anger

Clarity is Not for Sissies (and the New WOW)

This is NOT a manifesto against anti-depressants, but tells of MY journey to true clarity and the role that Zoloft (Sertraline) played in clouding matters.

You know that close to four years ago, I stopped drinking.  Haven’t had a glass of anything since November 11, 2013.  (Note:  It gives me goosebumps that I quit on 11:11, which is a power number. It seems the universe parted the waters that day, making a clear path for me to exit tipsy-land.)

Let me re-think the use of the word “tipsy.”  It is a euphemism, as is buzzed, to describe an altered state that numbs you from the pain of life.  

Such words make you feel better about being a drunk.

I quit alcohol because every bad decision or regretted remark or action in my life emanated from a booze-fueled state. Tired of being embarrassed, I no longer wanted to be voted “Most likely to break something” at every party. Some major falls led to a serious reckoning with how simply dangerous it was to navigate steps and life with a high blood alcohol content.

For me, clarity came when I heard in my spirit “If you keep this up, this is how you will die.”

Gulp.

So 2013 marked a new phase of clarity in my life.

Clarity is not for sissies.  You begin to observe things that didn’t bother you before; overlooked slights now hurt.  Suddenly, there’s fight in you, because you start to believe that you are worth better.

Sobriety and self-respect go hand in hand. As my self-worth grows, my capacity to tolerate disrespect shrinks.

Wait, Brenda – I thought you were going to talk about anti-depressants?

I am.

Sobriety fueled my recent life decisions.  What may have seemed to outsiders as a crazy, “Where did THAT come from?” action when I left my marriage, those who know me know I’ve never been more in my right mind.

But that action was just a beginning.

I’ve been on a quest for HONESTY.

As I continued to ask myself the questions necessary to peel away layers of dishonesty, I kept returning to a nagging question mark: My 10-year affair with Zoloft.

In the beginning years of my marriage, we went to Christian counseling.  The only thing I got out of it was a prescription.

Truly, that first 50 mg pill seemed like a magic bullet.  Perhaps psychosomatic, nevertheless, I felt instantly happier, more able to cope, less irritable and more tolerant.

When entering menopause, the script increased to 75 mg. When we moved to Florida, my new doctor upped it to 100 mg.

Patients should obey their doctors, right?

I visited my sister last year and one of my little blue pills fell on the bathroom floor.  She found it and, with trepidation, asked me what I was on.

I thought nothing of telling her – after all, my healthcare provider prescribed the drug!

The counselor had drawn a little cartoon that showed how serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) would build a little bridge to my brain, helping the happy feelings get back where they belonged.

Shirlee, unimpressed by the analogy but without judgment, encouraged me to read about the impacts of these drugs and to consider weaning off of Zoloft.  It took many months, but for me, the evidence was clear.  If I didn’t get off, I’d be on this drug for the rest of my life.

Thus began Brenda Clear Phase 2.0.

My doctor, knowing of my pending divorce said, “Do you really think this is the best time to detox?”

Taking control of my own body and decisions that affect it, I said, “Yes. This is the very best time.”

Since early June I have been on a steadily-decreasing prescription of Zoloft and last week, went to zero.

Clarity is not for sissies.

My body revolted angrily against the disappearing drug. Irritation has returned, flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, sleeplessness, headaches, cramping – yep, it’s been a real joy ride. But here’s the flipside: I FEEL again.

Yes, the difficult feelings were numbed, but so were the GOOD ones.  I now laugh more, cry more, and am more deeply touched by music and words and people.

I am alive.

Eventually, the physical symptoms will disappear.  It’s worth it to plow through them to get to the REAL ME.

I’ve missed Brenda.  It’s wonderful to get to know her again.

Here are my parting thoughts on CLARITY and the new WOW:

Hot diggity! (Wow, there’s a first-time use of THAT phrase.)

Let’s be INSPIRED this week.

Oh, and if my anti-depressant story has tugged at your heart, let me add that you should never cold turkey SSRIs.  There’s a careful way of weaning that your doctor can guide you through.  If INSPIRED to make a similar decision, I’m rooting for you.

And if you are not, please do not feel judged.  Everyone is on a different journey.  Some people have experienced great relief in temporary use of these drugs to get over a rough patch.  However, in my case, I found myself ten years later using the drug as an emotional crutch.

After finally ditching the crutches, I am learning to walk – and I hope to eventually fly.

xooxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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Blessed vs. Stressed (and the New WOW)

Inflexibility renders me STRESSED, not blessed.

Here’s what trips me up: I am an ultra-prepared person.  When I deem something important, I mark it on my calendar, plan what to wear, make notes on my goals, leave early to arrive early and show up with my tank full of readiness.

Yes, I am a goody-two-shoes in matters of preparedness, and as a result I expect everything to go according to plan.

My mantra?  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Wouldn’t it be great if life followed the script of such simple equations?

Ah, but then there would be no need for flexibility.

One of my 2017 goals is to up my public speaking game, obtain certification and yes, to win a national speaking contest.  My course charted, I joined the local Toastmasters group in Sarasota.

I’ve spoken publicly for years and years and have no fear at all when it comes to saying my piece. It is a joy to conduct workshops and training seminars around the country in my spare time, and, as my Mom likes to say, “Give Brenda a microphone and she’s in her glory.”

Desiring to take this part of my life to the next level, by good fortune I met a young man who – through Toastmasters – entered a national speaking competition, subsequently secured a book deal and now speaks for a living. He’s living his dream.

So to Toastmasters I went, and it is HEAVEN for word nerds, grammarians and lovers of the art of speech (yes, there really are people out there like this.  People like me!)

They actually count the number of times you say “um” or use throw away words and poor grammar; vocabulary and staying within the prescribed time counts and you are publicly evaluated for each and every spoken way you participate in the meeting.

Stressed by such rigors? No way! For people like me, it’s a total rush.

Run like a well-oiled machine, these meetings are ULTRA prepared with assignments for the forthcoming week scheduled at meetings’ end.  Jumping right into the fray, I signed up for my first mini-speech – a two-minute exhortation to kick off the next Wednesday night.

Oh yes – you bet I was prepared.  When my message finally crystallized, I wrote it out, timed it, practiced it over and over, refined it, timed it again, made Duane listen to it repeatedly and by the time Wednesday rolled around, I was bursting with the promise of what would be a glorious debut.

I departed early to be in my place with a bright shiny face well in advance of my slot in the agenda.

On the drive, I practiced my two-minutes.

I practiced so much that I missed my turn.

And ended up 10 minutes out of my way, resulting in an unforeseen detour.

Which planted me directly in the middle of the aftermath of a horrendous traffic accident.

I would definitely be late.

Living the seven stages of grief, I rested on anger for quite a while.  “This is not fair!  I was so prepared!  I left so EARLY!”

Despair had a field day, too.  Sadness, too.  It took much of the stalled time in traffic to finally get to acceptance.

This was beyond my control. If I missed my turn to speak and my hard work been for naught…it would not be the end of the world.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall bend and not break.

Yes, I arrived, and just in time for my spot on the agenda!  Had I stayed stressed and freaked out, I’d  would have been too flustered to stand and deliver my speech.

A speech, ironically, entitled, “Enjoy the Journey.”

HA!

More thoughts on being flexible here – and an interesting new WOW:

Sometimes the very discernment needed comes from asking yourself, “Will this really matter in five years?”

Is the answer no? Let it go.  Relinquish the white-knuckled grip on that thing trying to steal your joy!

Have a blessed (not stressed) week, my friends.

xoxoxox

Brenda

 

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