Christmas & New Year’s in Florida

My parents and I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Florida. We left for Florida in my van, on November 21st. Before the trip I simply prayed that God would show us his favor and protection as we traveled. Two days later, on November 23rd, which incidentally is also my birthday, I saw that God definitely had us in a bubble of divine protection. About 2 hours before our arrival, we traveled through an accident while it was taking place. It’s difficult to describe the accident. But I’ll do my best.

The car ahead of us on the left, blew a tire or something. He bounced off the guard rail so that he was traveling across the express way, hitting the car directly in front of us. That car was pushed into the next lane sending another car off on a spin. Really it was a miracle we made it through unscathed. My dad just said, “this is it.” And my mom just kept saying, “oh my God!” during the accident and for several seconds after. While I just sat back and calmly took it all in. Afterward, while thanking God for His protection, I prayed, Lord, I knew that You had us under your divine protection, but You really didn’t need to prove it.  And yet I had prayed that He’d “show” us His favor and protection, which He did.

It was only my second time being away from home (Michigan) for Christmas. It’s definitely different. We went to a party on Christmas Eve, where we sang Christmas carols. It was awkward singing songs like White Christmas & Winter Wonderland in Florida. It was about as strange as the mock snowman in the picture attached to this post. When I consider it, the image in the pic is actually a sandman, and it was not something I had the privilege of seeing. Rather, I pulled it off the web for this post.

In my last post I wrote about how I was struggling with anxiety and that I was seeing a psychiatrist for the first time in my life. Well this guy had me more messed up than I was when I first visited him. He tried several drugs on me, before deciding to put me back on Zoloft. I had been on Zoloft since the accident to guard against depression, but several years ago I had developed a tolerance so that it stopped working. After Zoloft I was put on Celexa. But it seemed that I had developed a tolerance to it as well. (An aside, anxiety and depression are closely linked.) Apparently, after some time, the body can reset itself so that the drug you had developed a tolerance to will work again. It took over a month before the Zoloft started to take effect. Meanwhile I was dealing with such severe anxiety that I was irritable from; having almost constant heart palpitations, high blood pressure, shakiness and increased spasticity. My primary physician prescribed Metoprolol for the high blood pressure.

The psychiatrist had changed me from Valium to Ativan. My dad explained to him that my physiatrist had put me on a low dose of Valium, 2 mg twice a day, to act as a secondary muscle relaxant because I have involuntarily muscle tone and spasms due to the traumatic brain injury I sustained from the crash. The psychiatrist said that they were the same thing. Well they’re not!

Not only that, but Ativan is also very physically addictive. I had tried to quit cold turkey, but couldn’t even make it a full day. So I had to wean myself off, which is just as well because later I had read that abrupt cessation of Ativan can cause seizures.

On top of the Zoloft and Ativan, the psychiatrist also put me on a mood stabilizer called Lamotrigine because I was angry and irritable. But I was only angry and irritable because of the anxiety and now, as I had to look up the name of the drug, I read that it is used to treat Bipolar Disorder. What? I was diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, not Bipolar Disorder.

Regardless, early on I could tell that this drug was not doing anything. Still, I waited until I was off the Ativan before I weaned off the Lamotrigine. After I had been off the Ativan for a couple days I went back on the Valium. At this point in mid December, I finally saw a new doctor while in Florida. Looking over my meds he said that Metoprolol was known to contribute to depression. So he told me how to wean off and prescribed another blood pressure med. But he wisely informed me after I was off the Metoprolol to take my blood pressure several times a day for a few days and if it wasn’t above 140 not to take the medicine that he prescribed.

I did as he advised, I didn’t need to use his prescription, as my blood pressure has been fine since. So now I am just on Zoloft, Valium and Baclofen, which is the primary muscle relaxer that I take for spasticity, and I’m doing so much better.  Even in the thick of this ordeal, I knew that God had not forsaken me and that, though I don’t, and probably won’t, understand it this side of eternity, I am confident that God will and probably already has used this for my good (cf. Romans 8:28) and His glory. I am most blessed to have family and friends who support and encourage me. A special shout out to my friend Jill, who not only encourages me, but is also a voice of wisdom and reason.