Tales From The Anxiety Med-Go-Round: You Can't Live On SaltinesI’m an advocate of being open and honest about mental health. I try to lead by example (with this blog!) by talking candidly about my anxiety disorder.

But there’s one thing I haven’t been sharing. It’s not because I’m embarrassed. It’s not because I’m ashamed.

It’s because I’ve hit that “fool me twice, shame on me” mile marker.

I promised myself I’d never take an SSRI again after my horrible experience with Paxil.

But now it’s time for me to admit that I’m on Celexa. I’ve been on it for about a year and a half.

Like Paxil, it’s an SSRI. The same kind of drug I promised myself I’d never touch again.


So, how’d it come to this? After year of vociferously bashing SSRI’s online, in the LA Times, and in a yet-to-be-released documentary about SSRI withdrawal — what in holy hell convinced me to get back on one?

The answer is twofold: frustration, and insurance.

Two years ago, back when I was working full-time at a call center, things began to go south. I was whisked away from a pet project that I’d loved and dropped into a messy new part of the call center responsible for handling high-dollar accounts. I went from feeling passionate about my job to hating it within about a week’s time.

As I grumbled through redundant tasks (like adding and naming worksheets and copying and pasting cells into over 300 Excel files — seriously!), I found time to ask myself a bothersome question: why am I here? I don’t like my job any longer, but I can’t quit. I’m scared to quit. I’m scared to leave this company and my totally decent health benefits.

I became bitter, of course. What else could I become? I couldn’t force myself to be happy. I couldn’t fake it.

Here, the anxiety started to grow. Little by little, panic began to creep back into my life. First, just a small panic attack in the ladies’ restroom at work. Then, a small panic attack during a meeting.

When a more appealing job opportunity opened in another department just two floors below my current cubicle, I jumped on it. A chance to stay at the same company, keep my benefits, and deliver myself from the mechanistic call center atmosphere? Yes please. Yes!

I got the job. And I loved it. I carted the contents of my desk down to my new cubicle and started my new life. I got to do all sorts of big-girl tasks that were pleasant, yet challenging. I learned. I liked my co-workers. I was treated with respect. I was given autonomy over my time and tasks.

Then, one day, I left for lunch. I grabbed some meatballs at the local Ikea food court and then meandered around the faux living rooms, “testing” out chairs and couches, until my break was over.

When I got back, everyone was crying. Here’s why: Three-quarters of my new department had been laid off. Everyone had been notified via email while I was out prancing around in the kitschy world of Swedish furniture.

My team and I were the “lucky” ones, however — we still had jobs. We were the one-quarter of the department without figurative pink slips in our hands.

At first, I was relieved…until they told us that my new department — the non-call-center department that I so loved — was getting swallowed up by the freaking call center. The place I’d just left. The place I’d grown to hate.

And now, I was headed back.

This is where the anxiety began to grow. Little by little, panic wound its persistent tendrils around my body.

And the panic soon blossomed after I carted all of my belongings back up to the call center. I had a new desk in an old place. I tried to make the best of things. I tried to be positive.

But it didn’t work. At all.

And I mean it: it didn’t work at all. To the point where, after panicking every day at work and losing fifteen pounds because I couldn’t eat anything but saltines, I had to take a leave of absence.

(More to come later this week.)

Photo: Sharon Drummond