This year was a trip. I’m not even going to say “pardon my french” because holy fucking shit.
Today, I want to give a little bit of an update with my mental health journey over the course of 2018, plus wrap up my year, and really tell you how medicine makes me feel.
I started 2018 determined to be okay. Okay with having anxiety, okay with where I was at in life, okay with handling it all. I think for the first few months, I’d hide it well, not recognizing how bad my anxiety really was, and continue to just survive each day. I think in April was the first time I really thought “I can’t deal with this alone”, when it came to my anxiety. I was in an airport, where I accidentally packed a lithium battery in my suitcase. I had to be physically held by a gate agent, because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see. I was convinced that I was going to be arrested, my anxiety had brought me to my knees, I refused to get on the plane (they got me on it), and I shook for four hours as I rode home convinced that I was going to kill 300 people. Dylan didn’t understand when I got home and was freaking out.
through the year, I thought things were getting better. I had a job I loved, and I was getting ready to go home and visit my parents. We made the long drive, but that entire 10 hour drive felt empty for me. It was one of the first times that I was just hollow. At that same time, my dad was returning from Detroit and needed a ride, so Dylan and I showed up at the Minneapolis airport to pick him up. If you’re familiar, pick-up is located partially underground. Sitting in the car for about seven minutes pushed me over the edge. I think that was only the second time that I told Dylan that I thought I needed help. (The first being in line for Buzz Lightyear at Disney World). He didn’t understand (how could you if you never experienced it in your life?), and the walls of the car were closing in, so I just got out of the running car and went inside the airport. I was driving the car. I couldn’t do it, Dylan had to get in the driver’s seat, and I had to walk laps in the airport. It was a really low day.
Fast forward through the rest of summer, I kept myself pretty busy at work, that I didn’t have much time to be in my head. There’d be a couple days where things were off, and my male co-workers were always the ones to notice. They’d point it out, that something didn’t seem right, and it would catapult me into crying at work for nine hours straight. I knew it wasn’t normal to feel like this.
was the first time that I took action. I went to work on a Saturday and spent an entire four hours crying. I kept telling my co-worker that I felt like something sat in the pit of my stomach. It was this feeling of guilt, this feeling of pain, this feeling of anxiety. I couldn’t generally explain it, it was almost like when you’d get caught in a lie, and feel really guilty about it, but there was nothing wrong.
On my birthday, I was a party animal and had a physical. When the nurse asked me if there was anything I wanted to discuss with the doctor, I told her that my anxiety was bad enough that I thought I could use opinions on treatment options. Her response? An eye roll accompanied by “Everyone has anxiety these days”. I started crying in the office, thinking that she was right, and I needed to suck it up and go home.
They put me on Lexapro and said “give it six to eight weeks to work”. It took four days. Four days to heal what was roughly five years of anxiety. Four days to take away all those days where I’d lay in bed and cry. Four days to erase the constant pit of guilt. Four days to feel like there wasn’t a bunch of stuff missing from my life. I’ m only taking 10mg a day, but it’s helped immensely. Things that used to bother me, don’t really bother me anymore. Instead of fighting inside my brain, and then spreading it all over whomever was in front of me, I kind of just shrug it off. Things that used to push me into a downward spiral, are not longer concerning to me, I just survive through it and let it go. Letting it go is the hardest thing I ever thought I’d have to do, and now I can just “move on”.
Although, I will say that I’d probably do a little bit better on 20mg, but they wanted to monitor me for at least six months before making any adjustments. I can just tell when it’s the end of the day, I backslide a little bit, and mornings are generally rough. But these are things that before would just be a “woe is me”, “my life is the worst”, and “I hate everything” type of response. Now I just know it’s kinda, “my brain is being a brat”.
So, that’s how this year went for me mental health wise. I would urge anyone who thinks that they need to do it without medicine, to just try medicine. It’s a hard thing to say to someone, and I’m not Nike (Just do it). But I used to think I had to do it without help. I’m a very “deal with a headache”, “survive through a cold”, “deal with cramps” type of person. I hate taking medicine, almost always. This though, is different. It’s making me get up in the morning without fear. It’s helping me to cry less (I mean, maybe like 17% less…). It’s helping me to create relationships that last. It’s there to heal the things my brain says can’t heal. It’s making life less serious, and less terrible. I don’t constantly feel like I’m sitting in a box that’s closing in on me. I don’t constantly feel like I’m sinking.
Most importantly, Lexapro and asking for help was the first step I’ve ever taken in my life to worry about myself first. It’s was the ultimate in self care, and believing that what I’m doing was to benefit me and only me. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my body, and I’m so thankful I took the leap. (Although, it does make me want to eat alllllll the things.) Bye 2018, lookin’ forward to a less anxious 2019.