For many years, I bragged about my ability to handle my anxiety on my own. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it now, but while people all around me were getting medication for their anxiety, I was pushing on by myself and kind of looking down on them. I still have a hard time not judging people for taking the medication they need when they need it.
I am a cocktail of traits that created a specific situation. I am stubborn and I HATE taking medication. I mean, I will suffer with a headache for days before I take something. I usually just believe that everything will run it’s course and be done. I also have developed an outer shell over the years. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that made me feel like I had to be perfect for a long time and when I was free from it I decided never to show anyone my weaknesses. To this day people are surprised when I tell them that I suffer from anxiety. They tell me that I seem so calm. I’m proud that I’ve fooled them.
I started having panic attacks when I was about 20. I went through a really weird period then. A series of events led me to believe that we don’t exist. I lost my faith. I kind of lost touch with reality for a bit. I was starving myself. I started having terrible nightmares about not existing. I started having panic attacks. It took my a long time to get over these things and the panic attacks never went away. They would pop up now and then, maybe every two or three months I would have one. It was manageable. I knew what was happening and I found ways to handle them. I usually had them at night and I would get up and walk around or read until I was calm. It helped if I touched something living. For a couple of months I lived with a dog who I taught to spoon me and I didn’t suffer a single attack, even though my life was falling apart.
Fast forward a few years. We’ll just set it at 2016. My life is super together and awesome. I have a great job and am successful. I own my own home. I’m married. My husband has told me we can try to have a baby. I have four wonderful cats. I have great friends. I drive one of my dream cars. I have come to firmly believe that I do, indeed, exist and I can actually handle philosophy and debates again. The only problem is my anxiety. Over the previous two years, probably since my father died, I have been getting more and more frequent attacks. I handle them as best I can but sometimes they make me sit up and cry out at night, something my husband can’t ignore. During the day I can feel them coming on and sometimes I can divert them. But the truth is that they are getting worse and worse. It’s no longer every few months. Now it’s every couple of days.
The breaking point came on Memorial Day Weekend. In four days I had five panic attacks, some of them lasting well over an hour. And I felt anxious the rest of the time too, worried about having another attack. My husband is the one who suggests that I see someone and when I decide he’s right, I cry. I cry huge tears of shame because I don’t need help. I can do it all and do it all by myself. I am not weak. And what will this doctor think? A new doctor who I’ve never seen before? Won’t he think that I’m just fishing for meds?
I went to the doctor and I ended up seeing the nurse practitioner and she was wonderful. The whole time I was there, I was nearly in tears and she never said a word about it. She prescribed me a daily medication and Xanax for when I really needed it. She told me that she was pretty sure that I did actually suffer from general anxiety disorder and that there was nothing to be embarrassed about.
I’ve been on my medication now for eight months. I’ve only taken Xanax a handful of times, because I got pregnant about a month after I got my prescriptions. Honestly, I cannot believe that I was living like that. If I miss my night time dose a couple of days in a row, I can tell and my husband can tell. Since I found out that I was pregnant, I’ve had two panic attacks and they were very mild. I never would have imagined that I could have so few.
I just wanted to share that story today because yesterday, for the first time, I looked at my medication and thought, “Maybe I don’t need that.” But I know that I do and I know that it’s alright. And if you need it, it’s alright too.