Thursday, September 17, 2009

Its Time To Face The Problem

As I've documented on this blog before I was diagnosed four years ago with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If we've ever spent time together you would know why. If we haven't met you'll just have to make a visual for yourself. Think high strung and times it by ten and add a lot of coffee and nervous energy.

I don't see myself as someone with a mental disorder or disease, when in fact that is exactly what is it. Which is part of the reason I have eschewed medication in the past. The antidepressants prescribed at one point were enough to make me comatose and a life filled with worry is better than a life filled without emotion or reaction. Then about four years ago I went through a bad bout of anxiety, hopefully one of the worst I'll ever write about. Insomnia, panic attacks, and just the will to stop eating and socializing. I withdrew from everything and everyone. And with the right pills I started feeling like me again. Not drugged, and not like the medication solved the problems in my life, but that it just felt like I was able to deal with the problems at hand without a cloud over my head of doubt and insecurity.

I went to my doctor today to discuss a few things happening in my life, none of them anxiety related. She has been my doctor for roughly the past year and I've had mixed opinions of her. She is very "to the point", but can also seem cold and distant. I wasn't certain if it was the right fit. After discussing the problems at hand she blurted out that we need to deal with my anxiety. I was honestly shocked as I've never told her about my anxiety, as it's something I just deal with. It's like breathing, you just do it. It's just part of me.

She explained that I definately have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and she could tell within the first five minutes of our first visit. And she wanted to sit down and talk to me about it and was glad I came in. She then with sudden caring in her voice she asked me the the hard questions. I couldn't look her in the eyes but started to sob as we both knew the answers.

Yes, I feel a loss of control in my life and have control issues because of it.
Yes, I stay awake at night worrying about everything from finance to friendships to if I said the right thing in the conversation earlier that day.
Yes, I have obsessive compulsive tendencies.
Yes, I tend to snap at people and get irritated easily.
Yes, I often feel on edge and nervous all the time.
Yes, I hate social situations and sometimes drink to feel comfort.
Yes, I worry all the time.
Yes it affects my relationships, friendships, work and day to day life.
Yes, its something I deal with every single day.

And I'm not talking the anxiety you feel before a test or that feeling that people are talking about you in social situations or when you feel overwhelmed by everything. I'm talking about an overall sense of unease about most factors in my life every single day. This is life with anxiety disorder.

For example so far this evening one of my worries is: I haven't ate dinner yet because I'm stressed about what to make and so I ate a container of peanut m&m's which is horrible cause I keep eating sweets lately and what does that mean and it could lead to diabetes which would mean needles and I hate needles and also dinner means dishes and I hate doing dishes but would have to do them but I have to eat dinner cause what kind of freak doesn't eat dinner after work and I should prob drink more fluids even though I hate fluids but I'm sure not drinking enough fluids will lead to adverse health too so I should find something, but not water cause I hate water, and not too sweet cause sugar isn't good for you....

Still with me? This is one of my worries. About food. One of many I have had tonight. And this is what I deal with all day long. No, I am not crazy. In fact, I have to look outside myself like I am doing tonight to find it even weird cause this is the thought process I know. this is the only thought process I know. It's normal to me.

And so finally after going over everything she looked at me with sad eyes and mentioned medication. And so the cycle begins. I'm smart enough to know that the right medication can and will help. I'm just terrified of the process that I need a daily pill to feel like me. I'm scared of side effects, I'm scared that maybe just a little bit of ME won't show anymore, I'm scared that if I go on them then I'll just quit the pills after six months like last time when I "felt better".I'm scared that by taking pills people will see me differently. That I'll see me differently. Lets not try to pretend that people don't often still get judged for mental disease. I'm scared that by taking the medication I am losing the control I so sorely crave when really I am not in control in the first place. I am an intelligent woman and it's a hard thing to realize that I am not in control of my emotions I am driven by them, and the control I have is with the reaction to those emotions and even that can be altered by medication.

But then again this is neurosis and the narcissism of feeling like I am capable of handling this.If I cut my leg deep, I would go to the doctor to get the stitches neccesary. But when dealing with mental problems it becomes a whole other ballgame. After talking to my mom on the phone tonight who has never been a fan of taking pills admitted that I've been on edge for about the last six months and it's like some days she doesn't know what will set me off and it can be straining. And that maybe it's time to consider it again.

And so it brings me to the conversation with my doctor and how I'm scared about the thought of medication. Apparently it's normal to feel anxiety about treating anxiety and that's part of the cruel irony of it all. But it can get better. It is possible to live a life without worrying all the time. She wants me to try medication for a year. And after asking if my anxiety has affected my work, friendships and relationships and getting a solid yes to all three she posed to me,

"What have you got to lose by trying this?"

And as much as it pains me to admit it, I think she may be onto something. Even if it is a hard pill to swallow. .


P said...

Man, I thought *I* was a worrier but that's a whole different level. It must be a horrid thing to have to deal with - although if like you say it's normal to you, maybe it sounds worse to me. I hope you can figure something out - I think most people have a certain reluctance to medicate themselves in these kind of situations but if it helps at all, it can really only be a good thing in the end.

Mike said...

It takes strength to understand you have a problem and to seek help for it.

I don't even seek help for physical injuries. Not too long ago I put a nail through my foot. I pulled it out, disinfected it with tequila (inside and out) and put a man-daid on it consisting of paper towel and electrical tape.

You are stronger than I am, that's for sure.

Tricia said...

Take the pills! :) Living your life with that level of anxiety is no way to live, and I think something like 1 in 4 adults is on some type of mood altering med, it's NORMAL (no stigma anymore) and if you need it, it's no different than needing an antibiotic to kill that sinus infection.

It took guts to put this all out there, but see it's okay - we're not judging. :)

I hope you find the right pill for you, with my husband it took trying 4 to find the one that is working for him. It's hard but you can do it.

Slyde said...

That is SOOOO my mother...

to a damn "T".

Her obsessive worrying about nonsensical things drives me through a roof sometimes..

Hillary said...

Lady, to a certain degree I understand what you're going through. Have anxiety about treating my anxiety so I live an unmedicated, worry-filled life. I hope that you find your peace. I know how exhausting anxiety can be.

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Good for you for blogging about this. I'm sorry to hear that you're having so many anxiety issues - but I think the doctor is completely right. What do you have to lose by trying?

If you are really against the idea of going on medication, have you ever tried more (for lack of better terms) hippie-like remedies. Something like yoga or meditation? Or have you tried going to counseling and just talking about your problems once a week? You may be able to access free counseling through your workplace.

Anyways, good luck with everything, Meghan. I hope it works out for you!

PS: On a different topic. I have been SO busy I can barely see straight, but now that I've gotten settled into the routine of being back in school/working part-time/balancing a social life/balancing half-marathon training I think I'm ready to make SOLID plans to hang out! I will email you soon r.e. hanging out next Mon or Wed afternoon!! :-) XO

Melissa W said...

Do what you need to do. Do what makes you feel comfortable. It is your life and your decision. If you do decide to go with medication, you will still be you.

Anybody that would judge you for being brave enough to admit that you may need help, is not somebody you would want in your life. Real friends stand by you, in good times and in bad times.

When I signed the frindship contract with you, I signed it for life.

Jack said...

Decide for yourself. My company probably makes your pills on offer, but that is besides the point.

Your comments remind me ... of me. I have the most awful anxiety issues ever, but I've never been brave enough to ask for help.

That my dear, is commendation in itself - you are already far more brave than the rest of us out there. I wish I was able to stand up and tackle the issue like you have - it take a lot of courage and self-belief to even get as far as you have described.

For that alone, I have much respect for you. Keep up the good work and please - teach me your learnings when you are all done.

I watch with anticipation and quiet confidence.

Andy said...

I get anxiety attacks when I start getting hypoglycemia attacks. It's of course not even close to what you have, but for those minutes I can relate. It feels so awful to feel you don't have a control of your life, and that all seems to go bad.

Bruce said...

It is always good to remember that EVERYONE has problems, the only real difference is that some people deal with them and some folks are just in denial. There are no 'sane' or 'well' people in this world. How you deal with it is what ever works for you. It is much worse to live in denial. I learned to spot these people when I was dating and ran away from them as soon as I could.

I have often thought that society more than genetics is more responsible for the poor state of mental health is this world, but since we all can't live on a tropical island, running around naked and living off coconuts, medication is an obvious option.

Just don't forget to suck them down with a straw, makes them much eaiser to take.

Meghan said...

P-you make a good point.

Mike- because of guys like you the term 'walk it off' was invented:P

Tricia- you're right. And thank you.

Slyde- know she may not be able to help it (even if that doesn't stop it from annoying you!)

Hillary- exhausting isn't it?

Amber- good idea. I do yoga and councelling and it does help some, but not with the day to day stuff. But on the overall, yes.

Melissa-thank you.And my eyes may have just gotten watery.

Jack-thanks for the comment, I'll let you know...

Andy- I'm hypoglycemic and know how much that can tie into it. Dextrose is your friend.

Bruce- sage advice, LOL.

Rebekah J said...

I have a Type 2 Bipolar Disorder and while I was nervous about my mood stabilizers at first, I'm really pleased now because my doctor and I worked together to get me on a regimen that I'm comfortable with. I have the mood stabilizer every day and an anti-anxiety that I can choose to take if I feel like I'm going that direction. During my really blue and down times, Doc puts me on a temporary regimen of a low-dose anti-depressant and weans me off of it when I do better.

That sounds like a lot, I know. But the upshot is that I have one medication I take every day, and I can control the rest of it. I learn to judge and control my moods and when to use or not use meds to manage them.

And you know - it's empowering! Because I've been part of making the decisions about what I take, I feel like I'm not just "popping pills." I'm doing what I have chosen to do to take care of myself.

It may take awhile, but I think that if you have a good doctor who will listen to you and help YOU make the choices instead of just making them for you, maybe you won't be as hesitant. That goes for any treatment, be it pills, acupuncture, holistic stuff, whatever might help you in some way. It's good that you're honest about how you feel about these things - and a good doctor will help you find something that works for you.

Be strong, dear!

Random Musings Of My Life said...

You are one strong woman. And I admire that about you.. Thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

I don't know you and I just happened to stumble across your blog. I've been diagnosed w/ GAD and depression but done rather well w/o meds for over a year. Recent events led me to be back on them, I hate the effects, I feel like im a crazy person and no one will love me because I'm medicated & that I should be stronger. I really helsp to hear these things from someone else. Thank you

Anonymous said...

You do what you gotta do to get through your day Megs. I'm proud of you for being so honest and I know you'll overcome anything that is put before you :)

Loves ya!

LiLu said...


First of all, massive e-hugs. I wish I could give you a real one.

Second of all, as someone who's had her share of anx attacks in her life, I FEEL YA.

Third of all, it sounds like you have an amazing doctor, which is basically the greatest thing ever in this sitch. I'm so glad to hear that. Hang on to her... and let us know how it goes.


Meghan said...

Rebecca- that makes sense to me, thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous- thanks for the message, it touched me more than you know. Call me the optimist but I think we'll both get through this.

Kelsey- thanks lovely.

Lilu- thanks, I really do appreciate that.