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.