One year ago today, I finally worked up the nerve to seek help for my anxiety and start medication. For one year I have been playing what feels like a never-ending game of trial and error to find the “best fit” medication, and oh what a year it has been.
I remember that day so vividly. It was a Monday, and I had a 2 hour break in between my human movement lab and neuroscience lab. I had hit THE breaking point. I remember having a mental breakdown because it had just become too much – the anxiety had become all-consuming. I knew I couldn’t keep living like that, and knew it was time to speak up and get help. I got online and searched for a practitioner that I could get in to see that day. I knew I couldn’t wait because if I did, I might lose the courage to do so.
I was able to find someone who could see me at 3:40 that afternoon. I remember being so distracted during my neuroscience lab. I was so nervous to be actually doing this. There is so much stigma surrounding mental health, and I didn’t know what reaction I would get when I said the reason I was in was to get anxiety medication. I didn’t know if I would be met with judgment or if I would be able to easily get the help that I so deeply desired.
I remember being so nervous while driving there, being more nervous while sitting in the waiting room, and even more nervous once I was back in my private room. I was actually doing this. I was getting medication for anxiety.
The NP I saw was very helpful and nice. She decided to start me on Prozac. Part of me felt relieved – I had finally worked up the nerve to get medication after struggling with anxiety for so long – anxiety that had been getting increasingly worse. At the same time, part of me felt so broken – it felt like I was damaged. I wasn’t able to manage my mental health on my own, and part of me felt so ashamed it had come to that.
I’m not going to lie, I still feel that way sometimes – the shame. I can count on one hand the number of people I have talked about my mental health with, who know I am taking medication, who know that I am going to therapy. It’s still really hard for me to comfortably talk about. It’s hard for me to trust people with it, so it’s something I still hold close to me.
I’m trying to work on that though. I am trying to work on not being ashamed of it and being bold in sharing my struggles with my mental health. I know that good can come from vulnerability, and that is one thing that my mental health struggles have shown me. When I have been bold and willing to be vulnerable by letting people in, good has come from it. I haven’t been met with judgment but instead with acceptance and encouragement.
It’s been a weird year. It’s been a hard year – a REALLY hard year. It’s been a year of going through ups and downs, periods where my anxiety is not as bad and then periods where it is paralyzing. There are days where my depression takes over more so than my anxiety, making it hard to have the drive to do much of anything. There are also really awful days where both are simultaneously controlling me, and it sucks…a lot. It isn’t all bad though. There have also been really, really good days. There are days where I do feel really happy, days where I blast my music and ride with the windows down, days where food/eating/my weight isn’t controlling me, days where my anxiety and depression seem distant. On the good days, I really try to enjoy them – REALLY try to enjoy them, and on the hard days, I try to be gentle to myself. I try to practice self-care and give myself grace.
It’s been a journey. I still haven’t found the medication that is best for me. I’ve tried 4, at various doses, and still haven’t found one to really get things under control. I’ve been prioritizing my therapy appointments. There are things I want to address, and know I need to address, but am still working up the nerve to do so. There are just some things I’m not sure if I can actually speak out loud yet, because I know it’ll make some of my thoughts/fears real. I know it shouldn’t scare me. My therapist has been nothing but wonderful from day one (seriously hit the jackpot with my therapist; what a freaking angel), but there are some things that are still scary to say aloud. I know I need to though. I know it will help and only good and growth can come from it. It’s a process though…a long one at that.
I’m not really sure how to end this. I’ll just leave it at this: I am still learning, still growing. I know I still have a lot of progress to make, but gosh I am so proud of myself for how far I have come from this day last year. Good things are ahead. It won’t always be easy; hard days are inevitable, but I know that good things are in store for me. I can feel it.