Struggle, Anxiety, Meds



The last several months the struggle with anxiety has been all too real. I’ve suffered from and dealt with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and panic attacks for over half of my life at this point. I’ve been on and off medication, mostly on, since I was 23 years old. Despite the fact it helps I also hate medication. I hate the side effects. I hate being tired all of the time. I hate sweating. However, I’ve come to the conclusion, I need to be on medication.

In the past when I’ve gone off of medication I was reckless and stubborn. I went off meds before cold turkey, not once, but twice. I suffered withdrawals. I was miserable. I made my family miserable.

This time had to be different. This time, I felt like I was in a really solid place in life. Good job, house, meditating, had seen a therapist, etc. I felt ready to tackle life without medication. This time I reached out to my doctor to wean off properly and I even got the info at least a month in advance.

I weaned off, slowly and carefully as prescribed and man… I felt great. I wasn’t tired all the time. On my days off I was actually making plans to be social rather than hide in my house and nap and be lazy. I had energy! My sleep was great! The annoying and ridiculous sweating stopped. Life was lovely for maybe a month.

Slowly though, impatience started creeping in. Anger started seeping out the seams. Frustration was being aimed at my dogs and my parents and my aunt. Work has been kind of messed up since June 2017 and just kept getting worse, more overwhelming. By November I had a massive panic attack. Every day I was questioning myself if I was doing the right thing by being off of medication. I was constantly analyzing how I felt and trying to determine if I needed medication again.

By December it was abundantly clear with the never ending tension in my neck and shoulders. I reached out to my doctor and set up an appointment. Thankfully, unlike my last primary care physician, my current one listens to me. We discussed options and came up with a plan. We started me on the lowest dose of the original medication I went on years ago with the plan of increasing if needed after a week or two.

At the end of close to two weeks and there still being significant anxiety and even the intrusive thought of, “I’d rather be dead than deal with this.” I increased to the higher dosage. Slowly the medication started working in my system. Slowly things were getting more manageable.

Sadly though, it only took me so far. My doctor and I discussed the possibly of increasing the dose or changing meds and we ultimately decided to change meds. During the next couple weeks there were some ups and downs with the adjustment. I’ve also been back in therapy as well.  My physical revealed that I am very low on Vitamin D which can be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression.

While I made so much progress I also struggled in that I was beating myself up. It never took me this long to get back on track when going back on meds. I had not been so low in such a long time, if ever. I’ve been hard on myself thinking how much of a burden I’ve been to my friends and family. I’ve been analyzing every thought and feeling. Judging or grading my progress. Any time I felt even a little anxious I went into over drive, trying to figure out why and lamenting that I was still having anxiety. After all, I’m on meds, I’m on prescription strength Vitamin D, I’m in therapy, I cut out caffeine and alcohol.

I expressed this to my therapist who told me, “Stop beating yourself up. Focus on the positives. You’re stressing yourself out more and making it worse.” Well… that was a novel idea. To not focus on the struggle and instead focus on the good? Focus on all the hard fought battles I’d won? It definitely helped to shift things.

At this point, I’m still not entirely where I want to be. Sometimes interacting with others takes more energy than I have but I get through. My mind still goes into over drive here and there. But… I’m getting there. Sometimes, it’s a journey and I’m having to finally slow down and accept it for what it is.


Progress Made

It’s a funny place I find myself in, sitting comfortably in my mid-thirties, rid of all the angst of my late teens to mid-twenties. I still recall the emotional turmoil I was in, the loneliness, the anger- so much anger! Despite the ability to recall it all, in vivid detail, it also feels like a lifetime ago. The suffering definitely helped to shape who I am, but that person, that version of myself seems foreign to me now.

I remember… staying up all night, watching tv and chatting over AIM with 5 people at once and writing two pieces at a time. I remember all the pent up rage over my (perceived) inability to live a normal life. I remember the feelings of isolation, desperation, and loneliness that overwhelmed me. I remember having my first full blown panic attack one night around 1am, while watching Vanilla Sky, wondering if I should wake my parents to take me to the hospital or let them sleep and maybe find me dead on the couch in the morning. I let them sleep and hoped and prayed I wasn’t having a heart attack and dying like I thought I was, like I felt I was.

I remember… writing dark and twisted poetry about the fury, the sorrow, and romanticizing suicide. I never truly considered it but it felt like such a tempting escape from the misery I was in.

I think back to all the crazy that I attracted to my life during that time. The drama filled people who seemed to find me like I was a magnet and truth be told, I probably was. It seemed like one friend after another was in crisis. My friendship circle consisted of self-harmers, pill poppers, and the like. It was also filled with people who had been dealt some really shitty hands in life but year after year they continued to be the victim rather than become the heroine of their own life. I remember one often repeating, “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve all of this.”

I remember… finding solace in the darkness of depression, the depression that anxiety drove me into. Misery does love company and I found my tribe. I remember feeling so liberated being able to share the chaos and storms that were swirling within me. I was no longer alone in my looney tribe of misfits. We were all wounded in our own ways and suffering but we had each other and that made it less lonely.

I remember… the clouds starting to lift in my life. The poetry dried up and I feared I was losing my creativity. I remember that the down moments came less frequently, the mood swings not as severe. I remember feeling at odds with myself because I didn’t recognize myself anymore without turmoil. Sometimes, even now, a little part of me misses it. For the creativity that is. There is something about angst and writing that go hand in hand, at least in my twisted mind.

Yet, I wouldn’t go back to it. I like being in a happy place now. That’s not to say my life is perfect but I am more appreciative now. I understand my anxiety better and have a better handle on it. I’m thankful for my struggles because there are somethings one cannot fully understand without experiencing them, mental health issues being one of them. Yes, I remember my battle and I’m grateful for it but I am so content to be exactly where I am right now. 100_0291_2.jpg

Mourning and Moving Forward

shutterstock_558143062.jpgI am sure it comes as no shock but I’ve been in a bit of mourning with the current political climate. I don’t know that it is even so much the results of the election but the sheer ugliness and divisiveness being expressed towards anyone that has different views. Being totally transparent, yes I was disappointed by the results of the election. However I know that we are not always going to get our way, you win some and you lose some. I’ve done a good job of sort of blocking it out since then but with the inauguration a whole new wave of ugliness has crept in, not to mention I have no choice but to face reality.

I’m not writing this post to rail against our current officials or trash talk his supporters. That sort of thing plays out on Facebook day in and day out. I’m tired of it. I’m writing this because I need to find a way to move on. I need to find a way to use my voice to share some positivity and tolerance. Many of us are disappointed as of late. Regardless of who had won the election, many of us wonder how anyone could vote for XYZ candidate. However that does not solve anything. Accusations and cruelness only serve to breed more contempt and anger. I’m looking for a higher road. If you’re happy or unhappy do something about it. Use your voice!!!

A couple things I have discovered in the last couple of days:

Countable (website and app)

Helps you to identify your representatives, keep you abreast of current issues, and provides an easy platform to get your voice heard.

Petitions on

You can sign or create a petition that, with enough signatures, will illicit a response from the White House.

A couple last thoughts:

“We have far more in common than that divides us.” Jo Cox.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi (though I’ve heard he wasn’t the one who said this)

Lost & Looking

Right now I’m feeling a little lost and a lot impatient. I’ve been having flare ups lately- of GERD and anxiety. I wake up incredibly nauseous and then as I start trying to force myself to get up for work I have panic attacks. It’s a lovely combination really. The other night Daney butt was sick which scared me something fierce. I’m ready for school to be done. I’m ready to be self employed. I’m just… ready. Heck I would be tickled to be retired and spend my days volunteering for causes I believe in and spending time with all of those I love.

I need to focus on the here and now. It’s an issue I have struggled with my entire life. I’m always looking at the next thing, whatever that is. My mind is always going, ten steps ahead of where I’m at, spinning out of control and defeating myself, probably from exhaustion if nothing else.

I’m craving change of some kind. I’m needing something new. I’m needing to find some relaxation- the one thing in life I’ve never been good at. Well that and math. I’m a little lost right now but it’s ok, I’m looking to find my way again.

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Photo courtesy of Alessandra, Flickr Creative Commons. Original photo can be found by clicking on pic.

Ghosts of Infatuations Past Part 1

Well it seems to me that any time a person wants to move forward in life they have to be willing to let go of the past. I am hoping to find the courage to let someone into my life this year. Which means, I must purge myself of the ghosts from my past. I figure I can do a series of entries based on the men that held my attention over the years. Perhaps if I analyze them one more time I can prevent history from repeating itself. Here goes…

CM was my first major crush/infatuation as an adult. I met him when I was 18 or 19 years old. He was the roommate of my boss. I remember the first time I ever saw him I thought he was one of the most attractive men I had ever seen. He had dimples, dark hair, dark brown eyes, a wicked smile. He was short but taller than me, broad shouldered. I never ever for a moment thought he would ever be interested in me. (Thank you low self esteem). The other women at work all thought he was hot too. We’d check him out together whenever he came in. 

My boss had invited me to hang out several times at his place. My boss was interested in dating me but the feeling was not mutual. However, after seeing CM I had new motivation to hang out at his house. I wanted to see CM again. Over time a flirtation developed and while CM was definitely showing an interest in me, I didn’t trust myself to believe it. I remember the one morning I came in to work and he had left a note. Another day he came through the drive thru and hit on me. I was still insecure but man could he brighten my day.

As time went on I finally trusted and believed in CM’s interest in me. I was elated. The thought of him put me on cloud nine. I was a grinning school girl when it came to him, totally smitten.  I was terrified. For one thing, CM was 8 years older than me. He was already divorced and a father to two small kids. He had had his heart trampled on by a woman he had loved. He was betrayed by his best friend and his spouse. I was scared that my family wouldn’t approve, even though my own parents were 8 years apart in age. It wasn’t just the age though, it was his divorce, his children, his emotional baggage. 

I remember one day growing enough balls to say I was going over to his house to see him. I didn’t call first though, I was too scared. I showed up at his doorstep and he answered but came out on the porch. He didn’t invite me in the house. He said he had to get to class and some story or other but he was really glad I had stopped by. The next day at work my boss made a point to tell me the reason CM didn’t invite me in was because he had a woman in the house. I was crestfallen to say the least.

Our little infatuation/flirtation, whatever one would like to call it when on until I was 22 years old. It was the same old dance, I’d keep him close enough to not lose him but never close enough to be worth it either. We never once during that time so much as kissed. We hung out several times, talked on the phone here and there but that was it. I was too scared to get involved with him. I knew that if I did things would get serious very quickly. I knew that I was far too young to be in that relationship. I was too young to take on his two kids (whom I adored by the way). But I couldn’t stay away from him either…

Finally when I was 22 he told me that he was done chasing me. He said a man’s ego could only take so much and if I wanted to be with him, it was up to me to chase him. He was done. I was 22, young, arrogant, cocky. It didn’t phase me what he said. I kind of shrugged it off and laughed. After all, we’d been doing this dance for four years. I felt confident that when I was ready, he would be there. I truly believed him and I would end up together one day, when I was ready. When I was sure that I had had enough life experience to be able to be with him, to settle down, to be what he would need. I knew I couldn’t get involved with him too soon or he’d end up hurt. I couldn’t risk hurting him, I cared about him far too much. I knew if I got together with him before I was ready, I’d wake up one day and feel the need to run. To claim my life for me. 

About a year later I was finally ready. I was 23 and felt confident with the direction my life was taking. I felt good about where I was and I finally felt like I could let him in and have a relationship. Unfortunately I was a year too late. In the time it took me to grow up, he had moved on and found someone new. They were in a serious relationship. The funny thing was, she was even younger than me. I remember I kept in touch with him sporadically after that, waiting and hoping that they would break up. CM and I were meant to be together. I was sure of it. 

Eventually they did break up and I thought we could have our shot. Instead, he was a mess. A total, complete mess over her. I realized then that I had missed my shot and it hurt more than I imagined it could. Sometime after that we lost touch. I heard through a mutual friend he had found someone new. He ended up married a second time despite swearing he’d never get married again. They even have a kid together. 

I ran into CM one evening with his wife and baby while out at the store. I was in scrubby clothes, my hair and make up not done, about fifteen pounds heavier since the last time I saw him. I figured out who it was, and I’m pretty sure he recognized me but I never went to talk to him. It was too painful, I had cared for him too deeply even if I never let him know how much. 

I still wonder how he is doing from time to time. I wonder what my life would be like had I let him in? Sometimes when I think of him it makes me a little sad but then I remind myself there were issues there that kept me from letting him in. Valid issues. Like his use of the “N-word.” (unacceptable in my book). Or how he’d let his young children watch rated R movies with him. His negative views on women thanks to the damage inflicted by his first wife. Most importantly was the fact I wasn’t ready at the time and I had the sense to not get into something I couldn’t handle. I may always wonder what if but I know in my heart, as much as I cared for him, we are both better off apart.