Coping with Anxiety

Mental Health / Monday, February 5th, 2018

I’ve never been very comfortable talking about my struggles with anxiety, but the truth is, I’ve struggled with it ever since I was about twelve years old.

I went through a bit of a setback last year, and when finally I was getting tired about having physical anxiety symptoms every single day, I reached out to my family doctor for some help.

Why have I decided to write about this now?

Well, maybe my words will help someone.

There’s a not-so-quite voice in the back of my head that says things like,

“Who do you think you are?”

“The pain and struggle of others is greater than yours, just suck it up.”

“People won’t want to do business with you if they think you’re unwell.”

“Talking about mental health will make you seem weak.”

I’ve been working really hard shutting out that negativity and way of thinking, and come to the conclusion that the only way to be truly okay with myself is to be authentic, speak truthfully about who I am, and be in the world in an open way. Also, writing helps to calm my anxieties, so I consider writing in a journal and blogging are therapeutic.

Back in September my doctor put me on an anti-depressant called Cipralex. You might know it as its other name, Lexapro. I probably waited longer than I should have to finally ask for some help, but I felt a lot of relief when I did.

After the first four weeks or so, my doctor raised the dosage to 20 mg per day, which she said is the actual therapeutic dose.

I did okay on this drug, but the side effects I experienced, including a really wakeful mind at night (for which my doctor prescribed 1 mg Ativan at bedtime), embarrasing digestive issues and an occasional foggy brain. I would frequently have a word on the tip of my tongue and be unable to produce it verbally. These side effects might not seem too bad, but for a person who prides herself on her communication skills and highly values sleep, they were bad enough that I asked her to take me off of the medication after the crisis had passed. She says we can see how I handle going off of the medication, but if I have a relapse, I’ll have to go back on it.

So now I am tapering off of the Cipralex, back to 10 mg per day, and this is the fifth day since the change in dose. I feel very tired and lack energy. I went to bed last night without taking the Ativan to sleep, and had a wakeful night. I really can’t wait to be off of this medication and back to being able to sleep through the night on my own. I am summoning all of my emotional and (there it is again, a word on the tip of my tongue…) spiritual power to tackle this.

Some other things I’ve tried to help with my anxiety, with varying degrees of success:

  • Running (working on healing my right foot’s plantar fasciitis and I’ll be back at this as soon as the inflammation has subsided)
  • Essential oils
  • Yoga
  • Meditation/breathing
  • Writing/blogging (writing this post has calmed me considerably)
  • Gardening
  • Sleeping
  • Eating well
  • Talk therapy

All of these are useful at times, but not others. They’re useful for some people but not others. I get that, and I believe that there are some people who are dependent upon medication to balance the chemistry in their brain and body for their entire life. They need it to survive. I just really hope I’m not one of them.

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