Happily Medicated

Anxiety. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It is hard to shake and is ever so persistent. Even when I wanted it to leave me alone it found a way to sneak back in. I have vivid memories of thinking my father was dying, or watching him be whisked away in an ambulance, only to be told that he was having an anxiety attack. Those unbalanced brain chemicals sure do a nice job of manifesting as physical symptoms.

As happens often, this gift was passed from parent to child, and I too started living in a constant state of worry. I have a memory of my first-grade teacher asking me why I had been going to the bathroom so much more frequently. It was because conferences were coming up and my parents were coming in to meet with her. Nervous peeing is awful, but those nervous poops-they’re worse. I could do without the hand shaking, leg trembling, vomit feeling, and hand tingling too.

Anyway, as the years passed my well-established relationship with anxiety became louder and showier. I cannot tell you how many nights I would be sitting on the couch one minute and be in complete hysterics the next convinced that my entire family was going to die. I learned to manage it relatively well. I knew that a short phone call to my family to check that they were in fact alive could bring me back to reality, that if my legs started shaking changing my breathing pattern would help, and that distracting my mind was the best solution when the I started to escalate. This was great until one night my vision went blurry, my legs wouldn’t work, I thought I was going to vomit, and my heart was racing uncontrollably. I called my mom, but before she could arrive I had called 911. I was sure that I was going to die and my foster son would be left with another heartache to add to his already extensive list.

The EMTs arrived and immediately knew what I should have already known. It wasn’t a heart attack. It was an anxiety attack. There go those brain chemicals presenting as physical symptoms again. My mom drove me to the hospital just to be safe. They gave me medicine to calm me and sent me home.

My mom is the one person who could almost always get me back in check when the anxiety would get bad. I could talk to her and feel a sense of peace rush over me. I would talk to her, cry, and then fall asleep. She was my safe person. I eventually reached a point in my life where I realized that she had spent the majority of HER life caring for people with anxiety and decided that it was time to release her of that burden. My dad had been effectively medicated for years at this point, and it was my turn to look into medication too.

At the age of 32 I had to look past all of the stigma I had built up in my head about medication, fight all the what ifs, and set up an appointment with my doctor. We met, and I cried as I filled out the rating scales. She suggested Lexapro and therapy, and for the first time, I was willing to take this leap.

It has been 3 years, and starting medication was the BEST decision I have ever made for myself. I am an entirely different person. It may not seem like much has changed to a person on the outside looking in, but to me it is literally like night and day. I can function without being in a constant underlying state of worry, which is more freeing than I can even explain. Being medicated is so stigmatized and people can be so unkind, but I genuinely wish I could shout from the rooftops that seeking help and becoming medicated is the best option for some people. It can help you live a better life. It can take away the constant nagging that haunts you every second of every single day.

Let yourself be happy. If you need medicine, get it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are less because of it. Now, I’m off to not be anxious and enjoy my life. Catch ya later!

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