A year ago, I felt anxious almost every single day – and the power that had over me was completely overwhelming. I never thought I’d be on the other side of things and I don’t talk about my anxiety much anymore because it no longer consumes me – but this update post is important because I want women to know that there’s hope. You don’t have to suffer with anxiety forever – something I truly used to believe wasn’t possible for me.
Every week, I still get messages from women who follow me asking about anxiety, starting medication, etc. Someone told me they just started taking medication and the first few weeks are so hard and I told her “stick with it, in a few months, you won’t even remember what it feels like to feel the way you do now.” It’s shocking to read this back to myself, even when they’re my own words – because I didn’t believe medication would work (for me) either. I wanted the medication to work SO badly – but in the back of my mind, I also kind of accepted that this chronically anxious person is “who I am.”
How can one tiny 20 mg pill really make a difference? I’m proof it does work – and my anxiety wasn’t just moderate – it was debilitating and controlled so many aspects of my life. I think about the time I used to spend googling symptoms, making and going to specialist appointments, waking up at 3 a.m. and not being able to sleep because I worried about so many things, worrying about car accidents every time I drove…it was a constant state of feeling unsettled and on edge – like something was very wrong with me or something bad was about to happen. I always felt agitated, like I was in fight or flight mode 24/7.
There have been times along this journey where I’ve briefly thought about “when the other shoe was going to drop.” Waiting for my meds to stop working, waiting for the panic attacks to return…but things have been stable and I’m thankful for that.
I have taken my rescue medication (a benzo) just ONCE since after the first month or so I was on prozac. ONCE. I no longer have panic attacks. My heart doesn’t race all the time anymore. I don’t startle as easily (I do still have some sensory issues, but they’re much improved compared to before and likely connected to my ADHD as well). I no longer feel like my default mode is fight or flight mode. Speaking of fight or flight mode, the book THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE was extremely helpful for me for learning about how trauma is stored in the body.
I also have a lot less fear, which is a gift. I used to worry about every single decision. I’d worry I’d wake up one day and have no home and no bank account and not be able to help support our family. So many of my life decisions have been based on the fear of losing everything – and I’m not like that anymore. I worry so much less – about the future, about big decisions – I have more of a “everything is going to work out” attitude now – something I never could have imagined prior to being medicated.
The way I used to think and live was a constant “what if” of worst case scenarios. Treating my anxiety has allowed me to live with so much more freedom. I no longer have worst case scenario thoughts every single day. I no longer catastrophize every single possible thing.
It’s not that I never ever worry – that would be impossible for anyone, anxiety diagnosis or not, it’s just that worry no longer consumes me. It no longer controls my thoughts, actions and feelings. It no longer leads me to having panic attacks and going down anxiety spirals.
Perhaps the most important thing treating my anxiety has helped me with is emotional regulation. I was extremely disregulated and often became frustrated, angry or reactive at the drop of a hat. I know from years of therapy that emotional disregulation is a result of childhood trauma, but it still bothered me that I seemed to have so little control over it and going from 0-60 so quickly felt awful and made me feel a lot of guilt. Being medicated has helped me to reach a healthier baseline – I feel more in control and less bothered by things that used to elicit a really strong response in me.
I’m so thankful for the last year – it has really shown me that I can live and enjoy life without crippling anxiety and intrusive thoughts as constant sidekicks. It has taught me that worrying and being afraid don’t accomplish much. We have this one precious life and we need to live it to the fullest – and for me, at this time, that’s with medication.
My psychiatrist has brought up weaning off of Prozac eventually and while it’s not something I’m looking to do anytime soon, because I’m so happy with how it’s been working for me, it’s also something I’m open to when the time is right. I also know I can always go back to medication if I want or need to.
I spent my entire adulthood being afraid. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and whisper in my own ear to just take the damn medication – tell myself how much happier, healthier and fulfilled I could feel…but I can’t go back in time. I have to embrace and be thankful that I finally did it.
If you’re in a place where you feel like your anxiety is something that will never go away or you’re scared to take medication – know that I’ve been where you’ve been and had those same fears. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I can truly say that medication brought me out of my permanent state of fight or flight and it has improved every single aspect of my life in ways I never imagined.
Thank you for your support & for reading this post. This wonderful community has been such a pillar of support for me for the last decade plus – appreciate every single one of you!
Diana Kinahan says
Kudos to you for using your platform to help other women suffering in silence. I could have wrote your blog, word for word! For me, Paxil was the answer, and I wasted YEARS of my kids childhoods by putting off going on medicine. I was able to wean off after I went through menopause successfully and it’s been 5 years. Not to say, I’m never anxious, but it is manageable and not debilitating. If I find myself down that road again, I know the medicine is there if I need it. Keep shouting from the rooftops and congratulations on living your best life!
Girl, I feel you 100%. I have also tried to wean off my meds and realized I am just happier / healthier / better to be around while staying on them faithfully, and I’m ok with that now! So happy for you and grateful for your platform — healing is a possibility!!!
Thank you for this. I too have lived much of my life in fear. I’m 45 and just starting medication today. Your words have given me hope!
I am so glad this has given you hope! Here’s to a brighter tomorrow