Speaking about this makes me pretty damn uncomfortable. I hoped that writing about it would be less so. It’s not.
I suffer from an anxiety disorder that is likely caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain. As I have aged and added stressors into my life, it has gotten harder to manage instead of easier. Wisdom and experience have not brought me peace, but instead increasing frustration. At one point, I had such a severe anxiety attack that I thought I might be having a heart attack. I wrote about it:
That is when I should have sought help. That is when I should have recognized that something was actually wrong, and not just a character flaw on my part. That is when I should have begun talk therapy, if not requested medication immediately. Hindsight, 20/20, all of that goodness.
I did eventually start talk therapy, and it did some good. He and I both came to the conclusion that medication wasn’t an enemy in this case, and that I had taken all of the steps available to me that weren’t medication. You’d think, at this point, that I’d go right to my physician and start talking about available medications, their advantages and disadvantages.
You see, I got a shiny new job. I poured myself into that job, and it was amazing. It was (and still is!) such a good job, that it may be insulting not to call it a career step. I still live in Michigan, though, so I’m pretty sure our economy would smack me down for getting cocky. Anyway, I dug the new job so much that my baseline mood was lifted, thereby negating my need for the meds. Right? Right!
Wrong. The honeymoon period was incredibly long, but inevitably, I could not (and should not) prop up my entire mood on one aspect of my life. About two months ago, I went in to the doctor, and had the hardest conversation of my life. We talked about which meds did what, which ones had generics, what changed when you went from name brand to generic, etc, etc. In the end, we decided on a specific generic as a one-per-day pill, and the improvement in my life has been obvious and welcome.
I did not zombify. I did not become someone I’m not. I did not lose myself. In fact, it feels like the whole world has taken a step back, and I can breathe again.
When I was 3/4 of the way through my first bottle of pills, I met again with my doctor, and we went over how I’d changed, how the world had changed, and how my body was dealing with any side effects. We determined that I was on the right path, and I got my refill automatically sent to the pharmacy.
I took my last pill from the first bottle without even realizing that I hadn’t called the pharmacy to activate the refill. The night when that pill wore off, I had an anxiety attack that had many of the same symptoms as the one that sent me into the hospital. The next morning, I woke up right back in that old place, with the world pressing in on all sides. Thanks to Nikki’s still-logical brain, we got my refill processed quickly.
My take-away from that, and really, from all of this: I don’t want to be in that place any more, and I am thankful that I have a way not to be.