Accepting my anxiety…the hard truth.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional and I cannot advise you on how to treat your mental health. If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, call emergency services.
I couldn't tell you exactly when my battle with anxiety started. For years I always thought it was situational and/or triggered by stress. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I have high functioning anxiety. Let’s take a peek at what that looks like!
Positive Characteristics of High Functioning Anxiety
Appears outwardly calm and collected
Loyal in relationships
Negative Characteristics of High Functioning Anxiety
Talking a lot, nervous chatter
Need to do repetitive things
Need for reassurance
Inability to say “no”
Difficult to read
While not all of these positive and negative characteristics apply, many of them do. As seasons of anxiety would come and go (or so I thought), I would go on medication and then off of it. What I did not know, was that it can take up to 9 months of being on anti-anxiety medication for you to feel truly ”normal.” Meaning, you are able to manage stress, deal with difficult things, and just feel like you’re on a level playing field with everyone else. Well, my seasons of anxiety only lasted for maybe a couple of months at a time. I never would hit 9 months on medication.
Early in 2019, I was in the middle of a personal life crisis, starting my final semester finishing up my undergrad which involved taking a full load of classes (yes… five classes every week for four months), I was working full time in a position I hated, and my grandfather who I adored so much, was in his last days. The fact that I did not have a mental breakdown, was a miracle. What I did know, was that I needed help. I called my doctor and asked if I could be seen to discuss anxiety. I sat with her and cried for a half-hour. We discussed my options for treating my anxiety and decided I was going to go back on a medication I had taken previously that proved to be successful.
I took this for over a year. Then, my body decided that medication was no longer enough. I was overwhelmed with anxiety every day. It didn’t help that we were in the middle of a pandemic, but I knew that something wasn’t right. I visited with my doctor again and she explained to me that sometimes our bodies just become immune to medication. When this happens, the medication no longer does its job as it should. She suggested I try something else. Within days of trying medication #2, I was feeling like a whole different person. My mood was lifted, my anxiety was gone, and I felt like I could function normally. I was on this for 6 months when I realized I was struggling to fit into my clothes and no matter what I did to ”eat better,” I wasn’t losing weight. I gained 20lbs in 3 months. What? Everything I did to help my anxiety went down a crapshoot because it was back the moment I stepped on the scales. When I went back to my doctor to see about a third option, I was weighing in at over 200lbs and after some blood work was done, I found out I had high cholesterol. A change needed to happen, and quick. She recommended I try one other type of medication.
After I started medication #3 I noticed no change. What I did notice was that the so-called "brain zaps” people get from weaning off anxiety meds were getting worse and worse. That was until one day, I woke up and could hardly get out of bed. I was so weak. I waited until I wasn’t alone to shower just in case I passed out. The next day, everything was fine. The day after that, not good. I was stuck at home again, and that night I was seen in the ER. CT scan. Blood work. EKG. The whole nine yards. EVERYTHING came back normal. When I called my doctor the next day, she guessed it was my new medication and advised me to immediately start weaning off it. I was anxiety med free for 3 months and feeling relatively fine until my personal life blew up in front of me.
This is what I learned… Prozac is my freakin best friend. My body responds so well to it, I feel more like myself than I ever have, and whoa can this lady handle stress! I am the healthiest I have been in four years, my cholesterol is back to normal, and I am embracing this well-loved 30-year-old body of mine. I am accepting the hard truth that I have been living with anxiety all these years, the severity just comes and goes in waves. I have also accepted that I am at my best when my anxiety is treated (with the right medication, of course).
Talking about our mental health, that we have to be medicated or see a therapist, is nothing to be ashamed about. I will always openly talk about this and I will never let someone use these things as a weapon against me. Accepting my mental health and treating it properly, was by far the best thing I have ever done for myself. No diet can do that.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek help. If you cannot afford therapy or to visit a doctor please try to see a priest, reverend, or pastor. They are great resources for help with this. At the very least, talk to a family member or friend. Let someone know you are struggling. It is OKAY not to be okay.
People! Check on your friends, family, and neighbors. Everything may look shiny and perfect on the outside but people do a damn good job of battling their demons in private.
Until next time. Let your sun shine ☀️