My Journey with Anxiety
About a year ago I read an article about a man struggling with his mental health and it brought me to tears. I related to it on such a deep level on my journey with anxiety.
The man wrote about how he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wrote about habits he did before getting on airplanes, he wrote about how every experience he went into he envisioned the absolute worst case scenario. The man talked about being scared, feeling alone and unhappy.
That description, it was me. It was exactly me. Not only scared and un-happy but I was tired. I was tired because I was doing everything in my power to fight through these emotions.
I journaled. I prayed. I meditated. I drew. I invested in relationships. I ate healthy. I slept well. I listened to motivational podcasts. I volunteered. I traveled. I learned new things.
And to be honest, I don’t know where I would have been if I wasn’t doing those things. They kept me sane and they kept me stable. They let me live my life. But to be 100% honest they didn’t necessarily make me feel happy.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been easily angered, extremely emotional and overly sensitive. From an outsiders perspective you probably didn’t see me this way or even have a hard time imagining it. It’s crazy what we can hide. But if you were my close friend, family member or ever in a relationship with me you could feel my intensity. You could see it in my shoulders, feel it in my presence and hear it in my voice.
I remember reading about this man, his journey with his own self care practices and his first experience with medication. After about a month in… He said “I can remember holding my wife’s hand, and for the first time in 15 years knowing the joy of holding it” It made me cry.
Well a couple months ago I went through a break up. One that was really difficult for me because I cared/care deeply for this person. But like they say it’s darkest before the dawn. And ultimately the break up has been a really good thing for me. It’s what pushed me to address my emotions. Because honestly, they had to be addressed. I obviously wasn’t happy post break up, but what I realized even more importantly Is that I wasn’t happy before it either and I hadn’t been for a really long time.
This is something extremely difficult for me to admit.
Difficult for me to admit because one, I live an absolutely incredible life. Really, really incredible. I have the most wonderful friends and family, I have never struggled financially, I am not self-concious about my looks or body and have honestly had my entire life handed to me on a silver spoon. My family has truly given me the world. What’s there to be down about? But that wasn’t the only reason it was hard for me to admit this. It was hard to admit it even to myself because I was trying so hard. I was doing research to be proactive and doing everything I could to prevent anxiety from controlling me and I was implementing everything I learned.
It’s not to say these things didn’t help me. They helped me massively. I still do every single one of them. These healthy habits allowed and allow me to live a productive and incredibly meaningful life, but it didn’t change what I knew in my heart. I didn’t typically feel the security and happiness in the same way a lot of people do. Especially for the amount of effort I was putting into feeling good.
So one day about 3 months ago I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist.. We walked through my symptoms and everything going on. He diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Low Grade Depression from not addressing my GAD for such a long period of time. Then he prescribed me meds. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to a psychiatrist or been prescribed meds but what happened this time was different. I actually decided to take them.
After being on a low dose of prozac for about one month I felt something substantial change in my life. For the first time I felt like I actually KNEW what it felt like to hear the birds sing, to see a sunset or to feel the warmth of someone’s hug.
It’s really so difficult to explain but access to this medicine changed my life for the better. It’s not like I’ve never felt happiness before, but now I’m experiencing it in a more genuine way. I’m not just pretending or willing myself to be brave or to feel happy. I’m not pretending to be patient or less agitated. I just simply am. Or at least there is a substantial difference. We’re all always a work in progress!
This post is in no way to promote medicine. But it’s to remind you that it’s okay to need a little extra help. It’s okay if you don’t feel the same way everyone else does. It’s okay to feel scared or unhappy.
It’s not okay not to address it. It impacts your relationships, your health, your ability to work and most importantly it hides you. I want you to stand out! So if you can in any way relate to this post and want help, need guidance, please reach out! I will do my very best to help guide you in the right direction. Please share this with anyone who might be struggling with mental illness or with anyone at all. I think it’s time to help get this message out and end the #Stigma.