Four and a half years ago, my doctor put me on anxiety medication because I was having panic attacks. I took the medication for over a year and started weaning off of it so I could get pregnant with Weslee. I’ve been off meds for 3 years now, but I think it’s time to go back on them.
For the last 3 years, I’ve been either pregnant or nursing, and I think those hormones, and a handful of supplements helped me stay balanced. But now that Weslee has almost weaned, I can feel the unbalance settling in.
My anxiety causes paralyzing fear. I fear failure, rejection, inadequacy, and being overwhelmed. I’m afraid of big things like trying new tasks, being in a large group of people, and having hard conversations, but I’m also afraid of smaller things like doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and cooking dinner. My anxiety causes nausea, tightness in my chest, shortness of breath, shakiness, and a crazy, constant twitch in my left eye. Fear has held me back from improving my photography skills, from writing on this blog, from making close friends. It has even held me back from doing certain activities with my family.
My counselor helped me find tools to keep my anxiety at bay. These tools include prayer, quoting scripture, singing worship songs, taking supplements, alone time, deep breathing, exercise, fresh air, sleep, healthful eating, checking in my feelings with safe people, and doing things that bring joy. These have been life savers for me. But I know these tools are not enough when I have trouble doing them. I have days when it’s hard for me to take deep breaths. I have days when I’m afraid of getting dressed and taking a walk or going to the grocery store. I have other days when I struggle with how I spend my alone time – I know taking care of myself by getting my hair done, giving myself a mani/pedi, taking a long, hot shower help me calm down, but I often find myself lying on the couch watching a movie instead. Sometimes this is okay, but if I continually choose to watch a movie rather than do something I really need, then I know I’m getting in a bad place emotionally.
I’m in a bad place right now. I’ve been really trying to pull myself out of this hole, but I’m not having much success. It’s time for me to step up and admit that I’m no longer in control.
I know some of my friends and family don’t understand this. Some of them believe that if I prayed harder then God would take this from me. But prayer and scripture are the first tools on my checklist. I do believe God helps me because of my prayers, but I also believe he has given our generation medication to help as well. It’s the same as when I give my kids Ibuprofen to bring down a high fever while also praying for God to heal their bodies. Mental illness is an illness just like any other sickness or disease.
So today, I’ve committed to making and appointment with my doctor. I need help, and this is my next right step.