Hipstercrite Life

Anxiety and the Thirty-Something

Austin sky

It got to the point where I couldn’t leave the house.

A small, round bruise on my leg would send me into unshakeable despair.

“I’m going to die,” I’d repeat to myself.

My suffering boyfriend, the man who didn’t sign up for this, would hold me and remind me, like he always did, that everything was going to be ok. You are ok.

And that’s the kicker, right? You know you are ok, so why are you feeling this way?

Minor panic attacks were hitting two or three times a week, while the major ones, the “PLEASE, SOMEONE TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE I’M PROBABLY HAVING A STROKE” moments, were once or twice a month. It made me irritable, it made me flakey and it made me want to retreat from the world.

Throughout my twenties, I was confused, I was sad, I drank, I passive-aggressively texted paramours, I threw myself into my job, I changed who I was for the worst. All of these ugly feelings and character manifestations happened, but there was one thing I was always sure of: I was never depressed. There were dark nights where I drank myself to sleep, but I knew I wasn’t depressed. Sometimes I would call my parents on those nights and apologize for nothing. They knew I wasn’t depressed. I was a mess, but we all took comfort in knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was 22, for God’s sake.

But last year I experienced something new, a feeling foreign to me. I had, and still have, everything that messy 22 -year-old lamented for- a sense of community, a fulfilling job, a loving partner- but yet I felt that there was a dark, stormy cloud that hung around me like Pigpen’s stank. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, see past the clouds (sorry for the obvious metaphor; it truly did feel like a storm lingering over my body and mind). I had exactly what I wanted, but I feared that at any moment, everything could fall apart. Not only was I fixated on my own health, I began obsessing over the health of others. We are temporary; all of this will go away one day. 

Tip: Don’t watch Six Feet Under if you’re experiencing the same issues.

I held off going to a therapist or taking medicine because I felt that I could get a handle on these thoughts. But I couldn’t. A year went by and it only got worse.

Counseling or medicine to deal with depression or anxiety I was not opposed to- they are two items I sought in my early twenties- but I felt I was mature enough to see this “phase” through. With enough determination, I could feel better, right?

Well, I found myself unable to conquer the sniffling, skittish beast, and I was tired of not enjoying the life I worked hard to achieve.  A doctor prescribed me a low dosage of anti-anxiety medicine months back, and after patiently sitting on my kitchen shelf unopened, I decided it was time to give it a try.

I’m not afraid to share with others that I take anti-anxiety meds. Though I sometimes second-guess myself and figure that maybe it’s ok to keep secrets, I choose to share that I take anxiety medicine because I want to ease the stigma. The pill that I take does not interfere with my life; my creative juices, my libido and my emotions are still intact. In fact, I still have minor freak-outs, but gone are the days where I’d begin hyperventilating while reading an article or curling up into a ball the day before a loved one was set to fly somewhere. Even if the pill is offering a placebo effect, which I doubt, I’m thankful that it has parted the clouds and enabled me to take joy in my life.

I’m a big believer in holistic living, but I also don’t shy from the wonders of modern medicine. There are some things you just can’t do yourself, no matter how strong you are.

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  • Reply Eddy September 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Hmm….of course being a man, every fiber of my being wants to solve the problem, whatever it is, but I’d rather give you a chuckle.

    Are you familiar with comedian Richard Lewis?


    • Reply hipstercrite September 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      I am! It’s funny that you mention him, Eddy. I was actually thinking about him last night.

  • Reply Vanessa September 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I have always been a fan of your blog and your writing, and now I know why.

    I have struggled with anxiety since the age of 8. I turned 30 just over a month ago.

    While I have definitely experienced different levels of intensity during different phases of my life, something happens when you turn 30. All of a sudden all of those illness scenarios that you worried about but could push aside because you were “too young” become totally plausible. Oh God, here we go…

    Personally, I’ve found a lot of success through holistic ways of dealing with my busy mind. Fitness, meditation, a clean diet, etc….but I’m also not above medication if it means a higher quality of life for those that need it. And if I need that extra help in the future, I’m ok with that.

    I love your honesty and raw writing skills – I hope you always write so candidly and share your inner workings.

    Hang in there!

    • Reply hipstercrite September 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Vanessa.
      I didn’t realize until recently that anxiety is something I’ve had since I was little as well. It goes away and then it comes back. I think it will be a lifelong struggle.
      I’m glad that you’ve found holistic ways to deal. I’d like to think that one day I will get there as well!

  • Reply Chris September 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    you need to run girl.. training for a 5k and then for a half marathon makes my anxiety disappear.. that works for me 🙂

    • Reply hipstercrite September 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Chris, I actually have been exercising, and yes, it does help so much! I was just thinking about that again at the gym earlier tonight.

  • Reply naomi September 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    thank you so much for sharing this. since turning 30, it’s been harder and harder for me to contain the anxiety i feel, and there are times i go to an extremely dark place. i totally believe in holistic living and exercise/run, but it hasn’t been enough.

    i’ve been contemplating (fearfully) trying medication, and your post is making me feel just a little more brave, and a little less alone.

    thank you. thank you.

  • Reply Leigh Ann September 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling with this. It sounds truly terrible.

    I had to chuckle at the “problem solver” comments. My husband hears of anyone depressed and says, “well do they exercise???” It’s true, it can help. But don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. That being said, I met a local runner/writer a while back whose whole reason for taking up running was on the suggestion of a counselor in college, to help ease her anxiety. It works well for her!

  • Reply Jenny November 12, 2014 at 11:26 am

    As someone who has suffered from panic attacks for the last 4 years, it’s nice to read about people who are willing to openly talk about it. People who don’t have anxiety, have no idea what it’s like.

  • Reply Faith July 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I often wonder if I’ve been suffering from anxiety and could benefit from a medication. But, I get so paranoid about taking something that could have really bad side affects. Would you be willing to share what you take and what you like and dislike about it?

    • Reply hipstercrite July 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Hi, Faith!
      I take a low dosage of the generic version of Celexa. I take half of a pill.
      I almost don’t recognize the girl I wrote about in this post. It’s strange reading this again. I guess my brain has tried hard to put this time behind me. In other words, the past year has been great. No panic attacks and I’ve been enjoying life to the fullest. I don’t ever want to go back to this place; however, I now have a problem on my hands. If I go off of Celexa, will return to that girl? I don’t know…

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