It’s raining here in my neck of New Jersey. I love rainy days no matter the season, but I especially love rainy days in Fall.
Anyway. We’re not here to talk about the weather.
I’ve teased at this topic in many of my blog posts, but I decided I finally wanted to talk about it today. Anxiety.
My experience with her spans 37 years, my entire life. For a time, she showed up as severe migraines. Still does sometimes. But for the last 7 years, she’s shown up as panic disorder. Those terrifying physical symptoms and ruminating thoughts that convince you you are going to die.
I’ve had three periods over the last 7 years where anxiety has shown up like a constant companion. The first time, she came with chest tightness and breathing issues, but I was able to defeat her with medication. The second time medication couldn’t beat her, but while she was scary she was manageable.
This third time though. Can I just say…wow. Anxiety did not come to play this third round. Beyond the physical symptoms, she came with terribly disturbing thought patterns and agoraphobia.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year stuck inside my body, unable to go long distances or else the bells and whistles would go off in my brain. There was a lot of crying. A lot of certainty that “something was really wrong this time.” I go to therapy weekly. I meditate and journal. I’ve completed anxiety workshops and courses, left my high stress career as a teacher, taken supplements. But there was no getting rid of her.
Part of me wanted to write this post because throughout all my cycles of anxiety, there’s a point where I find myself googling, “Can I live happily with anxiety?”
I remember one such moment back in 2019, crying hysterically on my couch as I waited for an uber to pick me up and bring me to the airport for a three week trip to Europe with a friend. But my anxiety made my chest tight. Made my heart race. Made me dizzy and my legs wonky. And that one thought that ruminated, “Will I be ok?”
So, as I waited for the Uber, I googled, “Can I live happily with anxiety?” And the hits were bleak. A lot of no’s. A lot of … well you can, but it’s a struggle.
I got on the plane that day feeling defeated. And doomed. But I was ok in the end. And the three week trip to Europe was great, anxiety and all.
You can live happily with anxiety.
The other reason I wanted to write this post was to talk about taking anxiety for medication. If you’re currently sitting with a bottle of anti-anxiety meds in your hand, scared because of all the what ifs…do it! Take the meds.
In my recent state of anxiety, I spent a lot of time not taking medication out of fear. What if I get sick? What if I have an adverse reaction? What if something goes wrong? What if I can’t find a medication that works? All the what ifs.
But where I was in my brain and body was so bad that I took the risk. All the what ifs be damned. And the risk paid off. There are still anxious days, but they are nowhere near where I was in April, unable to stop crying, fear wracking my body, stealing my thoughts, and ultimately, my freedom.
I realize this blog post is probably all over the place. I’d love to hear your experiences with anxiety in the comments. It’s nice to not have to go this road alone.
And I’m sure I’ll write more about anxiety in the future. But for now, this is a start.