Anxiety is such a buzz word now. Either you have it, or you know someone who suffers with it, or you mock those who hide behind it.
It is a silent diagnosis and struggle that we want to talk about, but only with people who truly understand it. It is unpredictable, yet cripplingly predictable. If you have it, sometimes you know what will trigger it, but other days, it blindsides you, sending you down a dark rabbit hole.
Depression is the friend who holds the hand of anxiety, and if you aren’t cautious, the two of them will become married and build their home inside of your soul. No one wants that.
So, You Have Choices:
- Therapy: There are people you can talk to yes. They get paid to listen to your problems, your struggles, and your triggers. They allow you into their office and ask you a million questions about your past, present and future. They use various methods to try and open you up. They work with you to make a plan, journal and track your triggers.
I have done this. I have worked with therapists and councilors for years, and the last time I was introduced to a new one, it was like life in reverse. She wanted to know all about my abuse as a child, and how I survived it all. I get that the motivation is to find the “root” of my anxiety, but I have already conquered that part of my life. No need to go back there.
2. Support of Family and Friends: The interesting thing about my closest friends is this-THEY HAVE ANXIETY. I don’t know if we are a close-knit “anxiety club” or if we all just attracted each other with our contagious mental health, but honestly my closest friends have the same struggles as I do. We do try to help each other by sharing and offering advice, but it isn’t always effective.
We look to each other for guidance to work through triggers, but in the back of our minds, we “consider the source” of the advice, and it falls flat. I personally don’t feel like I could offer sound advice for someone to “get out of the house” when I am hiding in bed staring at the light switch, afraid to face people.
And Family? Well for me, that in and of itself is a trigger. My daughter has my mental health gene, as well as her father’s depression. She is also medicated and seems to cope better than I do. She is my rock. The rest of my immediate family are the branches, fruit, and roots of where my mental health issues grew from.
My partner Dave, who I swear has anxiety, really doesn’t understand what I go through on the daily. He is a manly man, who refuses to seek help for any anger issues he has, and who sees mental health as a weakness. It’s not his fault entirely, many of the people from his generation and his family are the same. In his world, you just “Suck it up Sally” and move on. Ineffective.
3. Medication: After a major meltdown in Walmart, last February, that sent me into a spiral of shaking, sobbing, and smoking cigarettes in my car, I drove myself to the walk-in clinic. I thought I was having a heart attack. I am typically not a regular smoker, and that day I bought a pack, and sat through my tears, with my car radio blaring, staring off into space, wondering what the hell was happening to me. My partner Dave was at home recovering from colon cancer surgery, and I was healing from cervical cancer surgery. I was missing work, and going crazy in my own skin.
It was a day from hell.
I had been in Walmart, trying to buy groceries and organizers for my pantry. I was on a mission to use my healing time to take care of Dave and organize my house. ( I am never one to just sit and relax).
For some reason, Walmart seemed to swallow me whole. The lights, the people, the smells, the sounds, the overwhelming choices, and this lady beside me, snapping her gum loudly, in Aisle 10.
I couldn’t take it. I had a full basket, weighing heavily on my arm, full of food, antiperspirant, shampoo, toothpaste, and some plastic containers. I was staring at a shelf of multiple types of bins, for sorting items, and all I could hear is “snap, snap…chew …chew..bubble pop….snap”. It was mixed with the lady over the loudspeaker calling for a cash register person, and the canned music from the late ’80s.
Before I knew it, I had thrown my basket on the floor and ran out of the store. I literally RAN to my car, opened the door, slid into the driver’s seat and lost my shit.
After too many cigarettes and tears, I made my way to the walk-in clinic.
Escitalopram is used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. Escitalopram belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being and decrease nervousness.~ WebMD
My doctor informed me that I have EXTREME Anxiety and borderline depression. He had me fill out a long questionnaire and speak to the “on call” Mental Health Specialist. After they consulted with each other, in front of me, to determine next steps, they came to the same conclusion.
The result was a prescription of this medication.
It was such a relief to finally be able to tell my Doc how I was feeling, and what I was going through. When he prescribed my medication he gave me two choices:
“I can give you one that will help you focus and hopefully maintain your energy, or I can give you one that will make you feel happy, but it has been known to cause weight gain”.
I have a history of eating disorders, so we chose the first one.
At first, it really seemed to help. I was doing my workouts, and ensuring that I stayed on track, without triggers. It felt “better” to be on the meds, than not. I stayed on them for a month trial and went back to see the Doctor. He asked how I was doing, and my answer was a breezy, “I feel fine”. He prescribed me another 6 months and I went on my merry-ish way.
Now I’m A Robot
Good news! I no longer suffer from triggers unless I decide to try and go off of my pills. In fact, I don’t recall the last thing that set me spiraling, as long as I was taking that little white pill in the morning.
In fact, as long as I am taking them, I can focus, somewhat, and I try and make myself complete “something” every single day. Whether it’s a work report, a story, or cleaning my house, I feel like my day is better, because I completed a task.
Bad News? If I try and go off the pills, even for a couple of days, I derail faster than a speeding locomotive, on a broken track. When I say DERAIL. I mean Wonder Woman turns into the Angry Hulk. I don’t outwardly become mean and aggressive, but internally, I have a tornado mixed with an inferno.
I become paralyzed and angry, and terrified, and paranoid. The blast of emotions mixes up, rendering me powerless, and the only solace I find is in sitting on the couch playing stupid games on my phone, with reruns on TV in the background. The entire world passes by, and I am too freaked out to look out my window. It is something I have never experienced, before these damn pills.
The other “joy” that I have discovered lately, after a year on this drug, is that I no longer cry. I am no longer emotional, at all. I rarely belly laugh like I used to, and I have ZERO ambition to get back to my gym to work out. When people speak to me, I have lost my empathy for them. In fact, I could care less about what other people are going through in their worlds unless it changes mine. THAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF ME.
And, I also HATE sex. I dislike intimacy, or people hugging me. I just want to be in my safety bubble where nothing can derail me. If Dave reaches out to touch me, I cringe. If he talks about sex, I roll my eyes, and change the subject.
It’s not him. It’s not me. It’s the medication.
There are days when I can’t form a conversation with anyone. People text me, and I ignore them. I wrap myself in an invisible shield and, like a robot, I manage my day. I do what is required of me. No more no less.
Just like the effects of an anxiety meltdown have blindsided me, so have the side effects of this medication. Until I did research to find out WHY I am so robotic and weird lately, I never saw the damage they have done to who I am.
So, Now What?
So, after dealing with this robotic fatigue and the struggle to find my old self again, I have decided to go see the Doctor again. As soon as I am done writing this, I will make the call.
Anxiety is no joke Y’all.
Mine is most likely part PTSD from my childhood, with a blend of depression and “life struggles”. It is part of my brain’s efforts to cope. Some days, anxiety is my friend, as it reminds me that I have to stay humble and sane.
Some days, it is destructive, and downright mean to me.
Most days, however, as long as I am on this medication, it is a constant battle of uphill challenges, trying to find some Apex that doesn’t exist.
If you know someone who struggles with anxiety, you need to try and empathize with them. It is NOT an excuse. It is NOT something that is self-manifested. It is an underlying condition that causes an ongoing conflict between your brain, your heart, your soul and your body. Your brain and your body are continually at battle, and you can’t seem to tear them off of each other. They wield swords and knives inside of you, and your only defense is to ignore them both and hope your brain wins. You lay there, watching the stillness of the light switch on the wall, and pray that the war inside of you ends.
It is NOT a weakness- It is a strength that takes over your mental health.
It is a battle within you, and unless you can find the right weapon, it could be the longest war of your life.
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