I mentioned on IG in passing that I had started a new medication and should’ve known that such a nonchalant drop wouldn’t fly with you astute humans. I wasn’t sure if I was going to speak about this, but then I had some heartbreaking conversations with some of you behind the scenes that motivated me to at least say one thing about it. Of course let me ramble a bit before I get to that one thing. You’re used to it by now, right? 😉
Image via The Voorhes
It seems that women are very quick to adapt to even the most unideal situations. It’s how I got pregnant when Hayes was 8 months old and told Russ I couldn’t get up with him every two hours anymore because it made me so nauseous, and Russ would have to start. Guess how long Russ got up with him every two hours? One night. Then he sleep trained him and Hayes slept through the night the rest of his life since.
I went 8 months on 2 consecutive hours of sleep at a time and didn’t realize that maybe that wasn’t the best way for me. Or even Hayes. I just adapted.
The past couple years I didn’t really have expectations about how our home stuff would go. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know a soul who had done such a thing. So we adapted, we pushed through and I knew that when we moved in I could rest, I could slow my workload, we could regroup, we could rebuild our finances, we could have family time again, we could have Russ for longer than an hour a night.
We moved in and guess what? None of that happened. (Once again for the people in the back: try not to buy a commercial space right after you build a home yourself with one income.) Pulling equity out of the house to invest in our next project was always the plan, but we didn’t plan for it to happen so quickly. We had to keep moving at an unsustainable pace only now I knew better and it immediately put me into a tailspin. I can’t do this anymore!! I don’t want to!! So what went from livable anxiety, situational, something I could handle… to incessant, unending panic most hours a day… I knew I had to do something. I woke up with dread (not to be dramatic) even terror at the seemingly insurmountable odds against us. The light at the end of the tunnel kept escaping me.
It was at that moment that I realized I needed help! I’ve always been high functioning with anxiety and even depression at times. So from the outside and even the inside, medication didn’t seem necessary. But I knew how much I was suffering. My quality of life was suffering. To someone who lives for a good laugh, nothing was funny anymore. My baseline of existence was now just at the brink of a melt-down, of sobbing, of freaking out, of despair. Adrenaline coursing through my body all the time. Always ready for fight or flight.
So after a few months of this I finally made the appointment. I went to my doctor and she asked me those questions: How often do you feel ______?
Never, rarely, sometimes, often, alot of the time, all of the time.
Tears burned my eyes as I met question after question with a head hanging, barely audible, sometimes choked out, “all the time.” “All the time.” “All the time.” How did I let it get so bad?
It was SO incredibly interesting to see my own reaction as well as the reactions of others to treating my anxiety with regimented medication. My reaction to this process was to feel ashamed or guilty. I felt like I was cheating the system. Taking the easy way out. This is where the religious rhetoric of my upbringing stopped serving me. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” There must be a way to handle this on my own?
WHO KNEW BETTER THAN ME HOW MUCH I WAS SUFFERING? And still, I put up so much resistance.
Bless my sister’s wise soul for telling me exactly what I needed to hear to shift my perspective. She said “Medication is like scaffolding on a building. Sometimes you need structured support to fix what’s going on inside.”
Doesn’t have to be forever, Em.
So I went into the unknown, I fought my own resistance. And I felt better. I am better. Things are funny again and to-do lists are manageable instead of debilitating.
I wasn’t the only one with a weird reaction. I had odd run-ins with several people I didn’t expect it to come from, never mind the fact that I didn’t really want to tell anyone anyway. ME: I started a new medication for my anxiety! THEM:
Are you going to therapy? or Have you tried deep breathing? or What’s your diet like? or You should go to yoga! or Mediation works wonders for me.
Yes. To all those things. Tried them all, will continue to use them as a part of my healing and maintenance.
But the trouble is, the second I walk out of the yoga studio, post-therapy, mediation pillow, deep cleansing breathing, the circumstances in my life that induce anxiety (valid, real things) aren’t going away.
So, and now we’re getting to the takeaway, you patient souls, here’s what I think. When someone comes to us and says,
THEM: I’m thinking about getting on medication. Or: I finally got on medication.
VERY FIRST THING, US: I’m so proud of you. I can’t imagine what you must have been going through.
PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE, conversation, conversation.
And then, the cleansing breath thing.
I know we all want to help, but we’re not sure how. We seek to find our common ground, and in turn we negate others’ unique experience. Let’s all give the assumption that a war has been waging in the minds of those who suffer long before they ever opened their mouths to tell us about it. We are merely a blip in their journey, but our reaction can empower or diminish them.
And for those of you reading this who are saying with your head hung low “All the time.” or even most of the time, or maybe just often enough. Only you know what it’s truly like to be you. Listen to that inner voice and do not give up. You will find what works for you, and you do not have to suffer alone. I can’t say this with enough power of my soul, if you ever need anyone to talk to, and you don’t know who. I am here. Maybe not the ideal, but I’ll do in a pinch.