Adjusting to a New Norm

Yesterday was my first full therapy appointment since starting back up on Prozac.  I have been feeling alright since I started taking it again.  My mood swings have reduced; they are not nearly as frequent or severe as they used to be.  However, I have been feeling kind of flat.  I am told this is a good thing, but I am wary of it.

The last four years I have been on a continuous roller-coaster of emotions.  On good days where my depression has taken a break, I feel wonderful most of the time.  I am happy and productive.  I still had mood swings, but it was easier to manage when I was already in a great mood.  On days where my depression was front and center, not only was my regular mood down, but the mood swings were impossible to deal with.  They made me feel even lower than I already did, which just made me feel even lower.  This was a continuous cycle of up and down emotions, even if the cycle stuck around in the low end more often than not.

Now, since being on a slightly higher dosage of Prozac, my roller-coaster ride has turned more into a kiddie ride.  There is still some up and down motion, but the swings are far more manageable than before.  If I start to feel angry or irritated, I can easily walk away and calm down, whereas before, the swing happened in an instant.  There was no warning, there was no control.  The anger would soon turn into sadness and tears, and then happiness.  It was pure exhaustion at the end of the day.

My therapist tells me that my new “flatness” is a good thing, that it means that my roller-coaster ride has ended for the most part.  He said it’s not “normal” to be happy or sad all the time, that people have a normal “flatness” of emotion every day.  Happiness is caused by things that truly make one happy, and sadness is caused by things that truly make one sad.  This flat feeling I feel is not really flatness and void of emotion, it’s my normal level and anything under or above that line is true emotion, whereas before it was a chemical imbalance causing me to swing through a cycle of emotions that weren’t really there, or needed.

I guess that makes sense.  However, this new norm is very strange.  I am so used to constantly cycling through a stream of emotions, that to not experience a specific emotion at any given moment is weird.  I have felt happy when my daughter makes me laugh, and I have felt irritated when she was throwing a fit.  However, the irritability was manageable.  I was able to control it instead of it turning into anger right away.

I feel like I am living in a new world, and it’s totally foreign for me.  The norm of the last four years was, in fact, not normal.  I knew that, but now that I am getting help and working on a new normal, I almost miss the old.  I do not remember what I was like before my daughter was born, so I do not have a real standard as to how I should be.  I do not have a map for this new journey, so I am just kind of walking around like a tourist in a foreign country, not having a clue as to where I am or where I am going.  It’s scary, but it’s necessary.

It’s unnerving to not experience the constant fluctuation of emotion.  I am not void of emotion, it’s just more in check.  It’s just something I have to get used to.  My train has left Crazytown, and is moving on into Normalville.  Anyone know the Mayor?

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6 thoughts on “Adjusting to a New Norm

  1. This is a great post and thank you so much for being open and honest about your emotions. It really helps me and other people look at ourselves and understand our own emotions. A lot of what you wrote I have seen in my own emotional makeup in varying degrees.

  2. I’m so glad you’re continuing to blog about your experiences. I so hope all continues to go well. You must have reached out to a lot of people, which is such a wonderful thing to be doing.

  3. I’m glad that you’re stable. The roller coster of emotions is definitely a chore to manage. I dealt with it for years before finally being diagnosed and treated. However, I definitely share your sympathies with the flatness not being all that wonderful. For myself, I keep my medications as low as possible because I don’t function all that well when I’m flat. I’m so used to the ups and downs that when I’m flat, I don’t know how to really deal with it. But that’s just my personal preference. I’m happy to hear that you’ve found a place to be happy in as well.

    • Thanks! I used to be on 20mg of Prozac a day, and I did not feel or behave any differently. They upped it to 30, and I feel the change. The roller coaster of emotions is gone, which I think is a great thing. I am able to concentrate on my college work rather than managing my irritation or anger. It’s just very strange to not have to deal with it anymore. 4 years I did, so it was my norm. I just hope it doesn’t take long to adjust and get used to this new normal.

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