Trigger warning: self-harm and suicide mentioned
Today, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done: I started anxiety medication.
I’ve struggled with anxiety as far back as I can remember. At age eight and on, I remember having crowd and social anxiety and being forced into situations where I felt so unstable. Church functions, stage freight, crowds of people I didn’t feel safe around. At age 15, I experienced my first panic attack. I remember thinking I was having a heart attack, wondering why I’d be dying from a heart attack so young. It wasn’t until I was an adult and heard about panic attacks that I realized what it was . . . many panic attacks later.
Recently, I landed myself in the emergency room with chest pain. After a day of it not going away, my family made me go in. At age 30, I knew it wasn’t a heart attack but didn’t consider it to be yet another panic attack causing chest pain days later. All testing came back normal. The emergency room doctor came in to tell me he had good news and happily exclaimed that I was okay. He explained that I was just having chest pain from panic attacks all month and I just needed to see a primary doctor for medication.
But I wasn’t okay. Inside, I wished it was a catastrophic condition like blood clots or cancer or a heart attack. Those are easier to ask for help. I wasn’t okay, and I didn’t know how to ask for help.
Most of my family has always frowned upon medication. Never discussing mental health, becoming addicts to avoid the pain and trauma of life. I was told from an early age that antidepressants and anxiety medication is horrible and ruin lives, to always stay far away from them.
As an adult I work hard to overcome my addictions, but with that, comes worse mental health if we don’t treat it. So I tried my best to treat my anxiety and depression myself. I am very natural-minded and told myself I would figure out the cause, treat it naturally, and be okay. Those who know me know I am all things crunchy and organic. I take pride in healing most things through diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Over the past 10 years, I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on supplements. Gone on diet after diet. I’ve spoken to counselors and coaches. I have read dozens of books on depression and anxiety. I have spent all of my adult life trying to cure myself and get better.
I have been suicidal, I have self-harmed, I have had many days when I don’t want to live anymore, I have cried for days and days without being able to control it. Most of my adult life I have been afraid to leave my house—more days than not—unable to drive or go to public places because the anxiety is crippling. PTSD and depression added to the crippling anxiety have left me disabled in many ways.
My anxiety causes not only mental pain but physical pain as well. When I have to drive a vehicle, my heart rate gets so high my fitness watch says I’m doing intense exercise. When I go in public, I sweat profusely to a point it’s uncomfortable being in public, which makes it that much harder to be able to go anywhere. I was diagnosed with IBS, triggered by anxiety, so a lot of my life is spent in the bathroom if I have any stress in my life.
My PTSD is so severe I am scared to do anything alone. I worry everyone is a predator. I don’t trust, and I am always hyper-vigilant in social settings or anywhere outside of my home.
I’ve known deep down for years that I need anxiety medication. I’ve known I can’t continue to do this alone. I know I want to feel better. But it’s so hard to admit that and to ask for help. Why is it so easy to ask for help for a broken bone, but so hard to ask for mental help? It’s so easy to ask for help when you fall and can’t get back up physically. But so hard to ask for help when you fall and can’t get back up emotionally.
So today, I made the extremely hard decision to take this tiny pill in hopes that it will help me become a better mom, wife, and friend. In hopes that it will help me love everyone a little better, including myself. I’ve decided my kids, my husband, and myself deserve a happier, less anxious me.
I’ve made the decision to not go another day torturing myself by trying to find another supplement or diet to try before resorting to meds. Today I choose to remove my pride, go against my natural-minded lifestyle and love myself enough to get the help I need to feel better.
Today, I took my very first anxiety medication. I think I wrote this partially to hold me accountable. Hoping I can look back on this in six months and see how far I’ve come.
But I also wrote this because I know so many are right where I am. Feeling too broken to ask for help. Too natural-minded to accept that we need help outside of supplements. Too tired to make the appointment. If you are in the same position as me, I want you to know it’s okay to get on medication. It doesn’t have to be forever, but even if it is, that’s okay too.
And if you are too tired or scared to go to the doctor, there are many places online to diagnose and treat you. I was too scared so I went online and was diagnosed and prescribed meds in less than 12 hours.
You are worth fighting for, and sometimes that fight we need comes in the shape of a pill. There is hope for me, and there is hope for you even though it seems impossible right now. Brighter days are ahead for us both. I know it.