I have had a couple parts of my journey lately that I have been keeping to myself and those who are close to me, but now I feel ready to talk more openly about them.
First, over the past month or so, I have been weaning off of my antidepressants. I did not make this decision lightly, and I asked my therapist about it and had a thorough conversation with her before making my final decision.
I was at a point where I was being guided by my psychiatrist to do another medication switch because the effects of switching to cymbalta and subsequently raising the dose wore off pretty quickly. While I was waiting for my pharmacy to fill the new prescription, which was delayed because they didn’t have it in stock, I decided I didn’t want to make this change. I’m tired of changing my medication. This would be the third medication change since January, and I had an increase in dosage in all of that, too. It became too much for me. And I found myself asking what it was that I was putting myself through.
I have been on some form of antidepressants since 2014 if I remember correctly. And while they were effective for a while, I was feeling so discouraged at the lack of lasting results that I was seeing. And I was thinking about the fact that antidepressants don’t really have much of an effect in terms of PTSD symptoms and grief. PTSD is not a result of a chemical imbalance. PTSD affects the connections between the left and right sides of the brain. Antidepressants don’t fix that, but EMDR therapy does help (key word being help, not fix). And antidepressants don’t take away grief, either. Yes, they can be effective for someone who is grieving. But that didn’t seem to be the case for me anymore. I basically had the question of how much of my depression is clinical versus situational. And the only way to answer that in my eyes is by going off of the antidepressants.
So now I am going through the hell that is getting off of cymbalta. First, I weaned down to the lowest dose. Then, I took it every other day, then every two days. I’m now at the point of no longer taking it at all and it has me feeling so sick and emotionally volatile on a whole new level. But I am ready to figure out what my baseline even is now. I want to figure out what it is that I’m actually needing to battle, or am I just reacting poorly to the antidepressants? I got to the point where I couldn’t tell what was a symptom and what was a negative side effect of the medication. So I guess we will see what happens? If I continue to be hopelessly depressed after having the medication out of my system for a few months, I will go back and try something else. I am not unreasonable (believe it or not) and I am not anti-medication. But if I can go without it, I certainly would like to.
This leads to me to the second part of life that I have been keeping to myself and loved ones: I have entered into a new relationship. A healthy, loving, fulfilling relationship.
Dating when you’re a young widow can be really complicated. Especially when you’re still pretty actively grieving the person you lost. But when you meet the right person, it just kind of works. But it is not without complications.
When you lose a spouse, your love for them does not die with them. And when you’re as young as I am, most (most, not all) people in the dating world that are close in age haven’t even been married before, so they don’t even understand the emotions of having a forever person, let alone losing the person whom you loved dearly and expected to spend forever with. Or there were the divorced ones who annoyingly compared the two losses and I couldn’t stand it (I even wrote a blog about that, that’s how annoying it became to me).
I kept running into the issue of meeting someone and they were unable to understand the fact that I can love my dead spouse and still have room in my heart to love someone else, too. They often expected me to “get over it” and that simply is not how this works, sorry! Matthew is not an ex, it’s different. It was frustrating and I would often get defeated and stop trying to date, the cycle repeats. I worried that I would never be able to find someone that could respect and/or understand my past and that I was destined to be alone forever.
But then I did find someone who is able to respect and understand the fact that my love of Matt did not die with him. And I have been given space by this person to honor my past but also enjoy the present. And it feels like a gift. I’m an extremely loving person, it’s nice to be able to find someone who understands that I can be grieving and still have room in my heart for someone new. He understands that even though I have loved and lost, I am still capable of love and happiness in my new life.
So now I spend my days allowing space for both the sadness and the happiness that exists in my life. And don’t worry, not all of my happiness comes from this new person in my life. I still stay very active in my social life and I am very close to my family. I have an amazing support network and it continues to expand and I continue to make new, meaningful relationships in my life whether it is of a romantic nature or not. I am getting closer and closer to being considered “stable” (I put it in quotations because I’m a spontaneous and emotionally volatile person pretty much no matter what is going on with me). And I am grateful for all of the love that exists in my life. I have been putting so much effort into healing, learning, and growing since Matt died. And I feel as if I have reached a turning point where it is all paying off and everything is becoming more manageable.
I still have hard days, I still struggle sometimes, and I still miss Matthew fiercely. But now, it is becoming easier to allow the good to exist in my life and appreciate it the way I should.