Meds stopped working, anxiety about travelling - help!

I've been on medication for anxiety and depression most of my adult life - I'm 70, so that's a long time. Most of that time I've been fine. Last summer, the meds I'd been on for 3 yrs (citalopram) stopped working. By the time I realised that's what was happening, I was a mess - anxiety sky-high, depression the worst it's ever been. The GP put me on sertraline, which took 2 months to kick in, and referred me to a psychiatrist. Those 2 months were the worst of my life, and I had to cancel all my summer plans, including a trip abroad to see relatives. By the time my psych appointment came around, though, I was feeling fine, and stayed ok for the next 6 months. I felt well enough to plan another trip abroad to see my cousins, which I was excited about.

A month or so ago, I felt my mood changing, and the psych increased my sertraline dosage. It hasn't helped - in fact, it has got worse, and I've now started having the same severe symptoms I had last summer. AND I am due to travel abroad in 3 days. It feels like more than a coincidence - I was anxious about the trip, but looking forward to it too, until this morning - I woke up at 5am, heart pounding, sweating, feeling terrified - of nothing and everything. This is exactly how my breakdown last summer began. (It wasn't connected with the trip then, which was 2 months away at the time.)

I left a message with the psychiatrist, who is sending my GP a prescription for mirtazapine to add to the sertraline (150mg) and pregabalin (300mg) I already take. He thinks this will help with the anxiety and depression, but it's obviously not a quick fix - I will have only been on it for 2 days by the time I'm due to leave, and I have no idea how I'm going to react.

I feel really anxious about travelling in this state, and at the beginning of a new drug regime - but I feel like I will be "giving in" to this monster if I cancel my trip AGAIN. I've spoken to my cousin about what's going on, and she's very understanding, assuring me we'll just reschedule again if I can't go - but I feel like a wimp and a wuss and ashamed of myself for being so weak. And I am disappointed about missing out on seeing my cousins. But I am really, really anxious about how I will feel, and how I'll react to the new drugs. I'd put off starting them until I get back - but how do I deal with the anxiety in the meantime. Should I cancel my trip? I can't even think clearly anymore, and feel as if I'm letting everyone down. Help and advice would be hugely appreciated. Thank you!

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2 Replies

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  • I feel the same way you do about feeling "ashamed" about anxiety. It feels embarrassing to tell people what you're dealing with because for so long mental health was something everyone was supposed to keep quiet. If you can find one person to talk to about it that's all you need. It sounds like your cousin is someone you can trust. It also sounds like you have some great doctors that are there to help you. Trust me, I've seen some doctors that I feel like don't give a damn about me and what I'm going through. As far as your trip, I can't tell you whether or not to go. No one on here should tell you that. You need to do what you're comfortable with. It also sounds like your cousin won't be disappointed that you won't be able to go. You can reschedule and go when you feel better. I make excuses all the time as for why I can't do things. Of course, I feel stupid for it and like if I tried I might have been able to survive, but I can't focus on that. I have to focus on getting myself better. Whatever happens as a result can be fixed. My dad always tells me not to put too much pressure on myself and I urge you to do the same. Best wishes!

  • Kaitlin, thank you so much for those wise words. They really, really help. I've just had a heart-to-heart with my husband (I've been worried about telling him how I'm really feeling - he's very much a "stiff upper lip" and "keep calm and carry on" type of person), and feel a bit better. He was more understanding than I expected. I've decided to try not to pressure myself into deciding anything until the day after tomorrow. Not beating myself up if I decide I can't go will be another matter... Even after all these years, it's still hard for me to see depression and anxiety as genuine illnesses, and not some sort of moral failure. Thanks so much for your understanding and support, Kaitlin. xx

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