Controlling Anxiety (Part 1 – Medication or Not?)

In the past two posts, I talked about some of the triggers (causes for the anxiety) and tried to articulate how it feels (for me at least). It can be hard to explain adequately how it feels, but I think most people have felt these types of anxieties in smaller doses and frequencies. However, I don’t talk a lot about how I “control” my anxiety. In the previous post, I mentioned that I don’t take medication for it. That wasn’t always the case. It’s a hard subject for some, maybe for many. I don’t even see a therapist or psychiatrist, but that wasn’t always the case. So, I’ll tell you more about my background, because the journey is important to getting to where I am now.

First of all, when I was a teenager, I was an emotional wreck. I was very manic depressive. However, as an adult more than a decade older, I believe that I was never bipolar and it was anxiety and situational depression from the beginning. The more I learned about manic depression, the more clear it became that it wasn’t my ailment. For a little while, I thought that people had the symptoms wrong, then I thought maybe I had a mild form of it, then I considered whether I was just in a particularly long good phase… but it lasted for years. When we focused on improving our lives and attitudes, the manic depression went away. However, the anxiety is something that has always been with me. With bipolar no longer being a concern, I began to focus on my anxiety. The more I came to understand my anxiety, the more that I realized that this was the culprit all along. It’s easy to misdiagnose someone. Many ailments have similar symptoms.

As a teenager, I was so manic and destructive, that I finally asked for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. I highly recommend it. I’ve had two friends in my life who committed suicide… if only they had asked for help. I would never do that to my loved ones, because I know how it feels. I’ve also lived in violent situations as a young child. I have survived sexual abuse (not stemming from blood relatives). I suffered a great deal from loniless when my mother struggled to provide for me (my siblings were grown up out of the house, dad in prison, and mom worked obscene hours). All these things contributed to the anxiety that manifested. I was also sick for a long time and in pain, and that mystery wasn’t resolved until my early twenties. That experience lead to fear of doctors and that’s something I struggle with. I’m working it though, and this is why yesterday felt like such a triumph. Shit, I’m actually tearing up right now. It means a lot to me.

When I was super erratic, a girl who was once my friend and then became my enemy, asked me to go to a survivors group session with her at school. Most of my turmoil wasn’t from the sexual abuse, but it played a part in it all. I accepted and I chose to join the group that she wasn’t in. This was not the first time an enemy reached out their hand out to me. At one time, I felt like I must have been seriously fucked up for an enemy to pitty me. However, I came to understand that all people are people. Even our enemies have feelings. Our enemies are not pure evil. Perhaps our bullies have similar backgrounds, but I dealt with my turmoil in a different way. They knew I was hurting and a part of them cared. I’m grateful for that.

At first, I only listened. Then when they asked me questions, I answered them truthfully and without tears. The girls were shocked by the things I said. It wasn’t because my experience was more horrifying (because it wasn’t)… it was because of how easy it was for me to detail my experience to a group of strangers. The councilor said that I had a remarkable strength, and that most girls had difficulty talking about these things, especially in the level of detail that I gave. When asked about the violence I grew up with, that made me cry, because I was talking about how my mother was beaten. What swelled me up with rage and deep sorrow, is talking about my mothers pain. Today, no one would dare touch my mother without my wrath. I’m still and will forever be fierce when it comes to my mother ❤

When I asked for help with my suffering and destructive behavior, I brought this councilor home to talk to my mother. Mom protested because of an awful experience she once had. I didn’t know until then that she’d been through so much. I won’t talk about her experience, but I’ll say her concerns were valid. However, as dumb of a teenager I was, I was also bright. I understood that things were different from her time decades ago. I also knew that my mother would have to agree to any and all things in my treatment. She agreed cautiously. I felt a sense of protection and power… the power to say I don’t want this and the protection of my mother to make that happen. This gave me courage. The councilor and I went to a facility where I was diagnosed and assigned a psychiatrist.

I’m glad that I got help because it got me through a lot. It calmed me down enough so that I could deal with some shit I was going through. Someone hurt me, and it was hard to deal with the tidal wave that it caused. However, I did not appreciate the psychiatrist and I have a distrust of them. I only tolerated it for a short while, because it’s what I needed to get my head clear.

The psychiatrist talked to me for 15 minutes, in which I didn’t talk about my issues, only my symptoms, and then he prescribed me pills and I was on my way. After taking the pills, I noticed that my thoughts changed in a negative way. When I told the psychiatrist about it, he upped the dosage. When my hands started to shake all the time, he upped the dosage. When I told him that I suddenly was developing a violent tendency (I flipped a table for fuck sakes) and how things started to grate on my nerves and how I was starting to feel like I wasn’t myself… yep, he upped the dose.  I was smart enough to know that he was wrong. I felt like he wasn’t interested in knowing me or my problems or helping me… he just wanted to medicate me. This angered me. I stood up and said “fuck you” and then asked my mom to take me to the family doctor. After talking to my doctor about this, she agreed that the guy was a quack. She said, if she felt that I needed it, she could prescribe it, and she weened me off the pills.

Later, I was convinced to try another psychiatrist, and this went a lot better. I felt like she actually listened to me. When things weren’t right with one drug, we tried something different. In fact, she suggested that I try an anti-anxiety medication. That did wonders! It actually helped and there were no feelings of not being me or violent episodes. In this, I caution everyone to be critical about medications. Don’t settle for a psychiatrist who spends 15 minutes diagnosing your symptoms or for an answer that is always drugs. That’s bullshit. You need someone to spend a good hour or more getting to know you and drugs are not always the answer.

The drugs did help, but it was not a long term solution for me. I didn’t get as upset about things, to the point that I just let things go. After a while, it felt like people didn’t listen to me or didn’t care when I was upset or angry about something, because I was so calm about it. This bothered me. The drugs didn’t make me care less. It just made me feel like I could no longer adequately express how I felt. It suppressed my will to fight. This is why I disapprove of medication being a long term treatment. Truth be told, I got pissed when a significant other told me, during a heated fight that I needed to see a doctor and get back on meds. If you fuck up and you don’t like how upset I am, then make it right. Medication won’t fix your fuck up. It won’t make me forget what you did to hurt me, it won’t make it hurt any less. Sure, it’ll be convenient for you not to have to deal with it, but fuck you. And that’s exactly how that went down. No one is ever allowed to tell me that I need to be medicated… especially when it’s in response to a perfectly valid pissed off me. I’ll never let anyone gaslight me again. Period.

Yes, the anxiety meds helped in the short term. I’m not against using meds for severe cases and as a tool to allow you to focus on a better long term solution. While on meds, I looked for a therapist. I greatly prefer therapist over psychiatrists. The therapist doesn’t give you drugs and they work with you to identify your triggers and how to deal with it. I had some trouble finding the right therapist too. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to people who I felt judged by. Some therapists felt bored, probably not really listening, and not really all that caring. Some felt too invasive and pushy. Some were rude and kind of dickish. Some people view this as a person not willing to accept what the therapist says, but that’s not really the case. You have to find a therapist that you like, someone who makes you feel comfortable and safe, and once you have trust between you, you can effectively discuss the hard topics. You have to first feel comfortable and build trust. Not all therapists and psychiatrist are trusthworthy or even right.

Eventually, I gave up the drugs. I learned that being an inconvenience is not a cause for medication. Being an inconvenience is normal. Just because I was diagnosed with emotional issues, doesn’t mean that my feelings don’t matter. The notion that I’m upset over nothing, is ridiculous. Sure, at the height of anxiety a person may overreact, but don’t assume their emotions are invalid or that they need medication. I stopped caring what other people think, and I started to care more about myself and my happiness. That was the biggest step forward, toward a happy drug-free, therapist-free life. Drugs are a crutch. How do you learn to deal with it, if drugs suppress your ability to do anything about it?

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