Saturday, October 15, 2016

15. Get On Drugs

How's that for a catchy title? Haha.

I somewhat grew out of my fear of tornadoes. I slowly came to realize that tornadoes in Michigan are nothing like the tornadoes I was seeing on TV tearing through Kansas and Oklahoma. But as one phobia faded, new ones began to take its place.

My anxiety reached an all-time high during my first year of marriage. (I don't think the two were necessarily related. Haha.) I was working full time, but could hardly bear to drive my car because I was so afraid it would start on fire. I also spent many mornings crying while driving through snow or fog. I couldn't stay home alone when Justin was gone on overnight soccer tournaments. I had constant headaches and stomach problems. But it finally came to head one night when I got the idea in my head that there was a carbon monoxide leak in our apartment. It was the dead of winter, but I made Justin sleep on the couch with me next to an open window so we wouldn't die in our sleep. After that, I decided I had to do something. The anxiety was taking over my life and becoming debilitating.

I went to the health center on campus at our college and demanded drugs. Haha. They made me go through a few sessions of counseling first (where I had to lie on the floor and visualize the beach and other dumb things like that), but eventually concluded that medicine was my best option. I got put on a low dose of Paxil (10 mg), and have never looked back. It absolutely changed my life.

I could drive, I could sleep, my stomach wasn't constantly in knots. It was amazing. And for the first time in my life, I could see that my anxiety wasn't a sign of weakness or lack of faith, it was a legitimate chemical imbalance in my brain. I'll tell anyone who asks that meds are the way to go. I never noticed any negative side-effects (except when I forgot to renew my prescription on time - the withdrawals were intense and immediate). I wish I would've tried them much sooner.

Now, don't get me wrong. I still struggle with fear. I still have strange phobias, though they aren't nearly as debilitating as they used to be.  And over the years, my anxiety has morphed into depression. I haven't had as much success with meds to treat depression, but I know many people who have, and I intend to keep experimenting with different kinds until I find something that works.

The moral of the story is this: Don't live in fear if you don't have to. Don't consider it failure to admit that medicine might help. Just try it. I used to get Paxil for $4 a month at Wal-Mart (without insurance). At least in my experience, it was well worth the cost.

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