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. .