Anxiety Controlled: One Year Later

I have been on anti-anxiety medication for almost an entire year now, making it one of the best of my life. Everything is in perspective, I can do things that previously paralyzed me, the worry is controlled, I am more tolerable. All that is nothing compared to having the will to live again. One year ago, I did not care if I lived or died. I felt worthless, unnecessary, unloved, and was sure life would go on just fine without me. I was not suicidal, but a bus out of no where would have been a welcome relief from my imprisonment.

Here we are, though, and I am freer than ever. It’s been a year of learning what to expect with controlled anxiety. I did not have a lot of faith in a little white pill curing all my ills. They made me feel sick, I lost my appetite, I was tired and restless, and they made me MORE anxious, all to be expected, according to the brochure. I experienced almost 90% of the common side effects. Then, little by little, the world wasn’t so dark anymore. I was driving home from work one day and realized that I wasn’t worrying anymore. It was a sweet relief. My anxiety triggers weren’t plaguing me, I wasn’t trapped in a cycle of self-loathing, and I felt purpose renewed. I felt normal again, perhaps even better than normal. Happy.

After the side effects finally wore off, it was smooth sailing for awhile. Then one day it wasn’t. I was tired, cranky, anxious for no apparent reason. Why wasn’t the medicine working? I wasn’t worried about any of the usuals; I was restless in an aimless sort of way. I had difficulty focusing and making decisions. It lasted a couple of days, then I was back to normal.

After six months on medication, I returned to my doctor for follow up where I was informed that anxiety would break through from time to time. I sure wish the doctor had mentioned that earlier. It would have explained a lot and saved me a lot of worry.

And so it goes, once in awhile things get unsettled. For example, one afternoon I walked around the library for 20 minutes before leaving empty-handed because I was completely unable to choose a book. Once in awhile I have a difficult day at work or an unproductive weekend because anxiety flares up. I can’t pinpoint a trigger or a resolution, so I do the best I can to ride it out, knowing that it will, indeed, end.

Last month was tough. Work was harder, parenting was harder, housework was harder. Because I never quite know why my anxiety breaks through, my best guess is the change of season. I am outdoors less and less active, and there are more things to manage. The sad irony of anxiety is that it likes to pop up when my obligations are many, yet stunts my ability to accomplish it all with my best foot forward.

But I came out of it long enough to throw a little Halloween party for a big group of our friends, something I was barely able to do last year after many an exuberantly-thrown Halloween party in years prior. Last Halloween was the point I knew I needed help. I called the clinic and asked for the first available appointment and the rest is history.

As I write this, I am cycling into a depressive state. It started quite coincidentally with the time change, so if I’m lucky it will only last until the Earth tilts back toward the sun. I have another follow-up appointment with my doctor in a few weeks and we’ll certainly be discussing it.

Even though the year wasn’t perfect, it was better than the year before. I can’t control anxiety or depression when they want to break through, but I CAN hope to be more controlled a year from now than I am today. It is hard to imagine living my entire life with anxiety and depression. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s part of me that I am learning to live with one white pill, one follow-up, one day at a time.

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