I am going to admit two things…
One:- I am currently on anti-anxiety/depression medication
Two:- I was one of the those people very against going on medication
I wanted to admit these things, cause I feel not a lot of people are aware of just how common it is to experience anxiety and depression and may, like me, be reluctant to medication and a perspective on this could be useful, cause education is always good right!
My feeling towards medication was very much Tom Cruises…. I had an opinion on it based on nothing! I guess I just felt it made me weak cause I couldn’t handle a problem myself. And anxiety and depression already make you feel weak… like you can’t deal with things the same way others do, why is no one else extremely stressed out in the situations that cause me to melt down.
I know a lot of people get stressed, and I don’t ‘own’ anxiety, but I do feel a little bit like the word anxiety is thrown around a lot, maybe too much…. When I say anxiety about situations, I mean, heart palpitations, a stomach that feels like it’s going to churn out of my skin, extreme heat under my chest and face, unable to catch my breath, my brain clouding over and unable to focus on a single thought to stop it and yet hearing every negative thought you inner brain demon want to scream at you, to the point of crying, and basically feeling sick for a good time after the situation has passed. And always a headache.
Sounds fun huh. For years I just dealt with this as something I was, weak, couldn’t deal with anything so I would just try to avoid things that cause it as much as possible. Unfortunately this included a lot of things, trying new things, going out to crowded places, going out in general sometimes, public transport, jobs, meetings, losing jobs, calling in sick etc etc. I have been told repeatedly I ‘m sensitive or emotional person, so I put it all just down to that… I must just be emotional. It sucked when I felt like I was letting others down because of it, and I’m sure I have lost friends because of it to… of course they probably didn’t realise why wasn’t coming out, as I myself didn’t, they just got a lot of no’s from me so inevitably people stop trying.
But it all came to a breaking point this year. For some reason, I think my body had just had enough of living in the tense state it was in most of the time. And I was beginning to have panic attacks… nightly… when I say panic attack, I mean the anxious feelings I mention before would start but it would go further to a point where I felt like drowning, not just I couldn’t breathe but to the point that I was actually suffocating in that very instant, I would clutch at my throat and pound on my chest, body convulsing to the point I was on my knees on the floor suddenly screaming and or crying uncontrollable with the accompaniment of snot and drool… awesome fun! These panic attacked were completely unprovoked… I would be just watching tv, reading… checking facebook and all the sudden a sharp pain would rip through my belly like I was going to hurl and it all flooded over me… and if I did manage to make it through a night without an attack you can bet your bottom dollar I would wake in the middle of the night with a night terror, screaming myself awake covered in sweat. Obviously this kind of nightly activity does wonders for you in the day time to, while I was pretty happy I’ll be it stressed, I would start crying in the middle of the day. I decided I need to see a doctor.
Seeing a doctor about these problems feels a little humiliating… how to describe these symptoms when you’re sitting there otherwise healthy and happy? But fortunately doctors know their shit!
I was given a questionnaire which is very for telling about what I was dealing with. After my result was calculated I was offered some therapy sessions and my doctor discussed with me taking medication.
(Side note: seeing your doctor about these issues, I found out that you are entitled to a certain number of free therapy sessions a year! Seek therapy if you feel you need it, because it’s awesome helps a lot!)
When she said medication, I was immediately tense, I really wasn’t happy about the idea I couldn’t just get through this myself, even though I had just had validation in finding out not everyone deals with things this way, not everyone has anxiety, I have anxiety, it didn’t mean I was weak! I also had depression as a friend… I didn’t make me a sad person! These thoughts help, and I really can’t tell you why I was so objected to medication, do asthma suffers not take medication to help them breathe! Hell did men not take pills to help them? What was my problem?
The truth is, there could be something chemical going on in your brain, like mine, it doesn’t produce enough of a certain chemical that you need. Maybe that chemical was low the day they were giving it out… but the gods decided to help us out and gave humans the ability to create in it little pills… so it’s a chemical assist…
Again a fight within myself is, doesn’t a chemical assist mean I can’t handle things on my own… then miss logic appeared in my head (maybe she was helped by some of my awesome friends) but she said, having a little pill is in fact still doing it yourself you silly muppet… do you not wash your hair with shampoo…. That’s a chemical assist, but you are still washing it…. So you are getting a chemical assist to control anxiety and mood…you still sought help, you are the one taking it it’s still me… and do you really want to deal with another panic attack tonight. Gulp… Bottoms up!
I wasn’t sure how great these pills had been helping me…. I knew I was changed cause I can suddenly do a lot of things I couldn’t do before… today I realised even something small like parking my car in a busy car park was no trouble… yes even things like that. Yesterday I had to face public transport. A thing I had dreaded for a long time. When I was 18, I used to travel from Brisbane to gold coast for work on the weekends. Every Friday, I would feel sick. My body was tense, headachy all day in dread for it… I had to change trains and the second was an express, I was constantly sure I was going to leave something of mine on a train, catch the wrong train… or something. I would hate it if I needed to go the bathroom cause I would add miss the second train to my stress. My anxiety was constant for the day leading up to the two and half hours of travel. Constantly checking the screens, my watch, my ticket, the train numbers… have a backup plan for my back up plans back up plan and this was the time before mobile phones!
But yesterday I had to teach someone how to travel via bus, in Brisbane… teach someone… ahhh, to travel by bus… ahhh in Brisbane… ahhh. But amazingly I got through with little to no symptoms of anxiety, I wasn’t feeling sick, I wasn’t headachy, I wasn’t suddenly hot and uncomfortable or ready to cry and want for home and I could breathe fine. I sure, had a backup plan, but that’s just good sense. But I got through the day confident and happily and it was actually pretty fun!
I wanted to immediately share this with other anxiety suffers, there is help out there! Sometimes in life we tend to go on auto pilot, living with thing that are burdens, cause we don’t want to make a fuss, you forget how much of a burden is it cause you get familiar with it, or you don’t know any different and until people actually have the conversation to know. It’s like the frog in the boiling water and we were all slowly boiled because we were in it before it boiled. But mostly I think its fear, and we should never be held back from seeking help cause of fear. You shouldn’t be uncomfortable because of fear! Maybe medication isn’t for you, maybe simply counselling is, maybe a lifestyle change is. It might be hard at first, but the question is, it is better to try or continue you the way you are?
My journey continues finding a balance between sessions, lifestyle and exercise, it’s hard to break bad habits, but I know now I’m on the right road at least….
The only way I could describe it is, like hearing your neighbours playing a familiar hated song. I can just hear it and feel it but it’s behind a wall, muted a little, if I focus I can hear it clearer, but I don’t want to hear that song I hate… eventually I hope the song will go away, but for now having it muted is fine with me.