after all we talk so much about how we take care of our physical bodies, why don’t we feel as free to talk about how we nourish our mental selves as well? I was thinking about this issue today as I was driving into work. I am not really sure why….it was just one of those random thoughts that popped into my head but I realized it has been quite a while since I had to take any Xanax. And yes, I do have a prescription for it, have been to therapy in the past and take it under the supervision of a doctor. Even as I am writing this though I am a little hesitant to talk about it for some reason. Maybe it is because I know there is a stigma attached to having a mental health issue. Maybe I am afraid of being judged or misunderstood. Maybe I am afraid that I will be perceived as weak. Maybe all of those things and more. But maybe, just maybe talking about it is exactly what needs to happen. Maybe if we all were a little more vulnerable we would realize exactly how common these problems really are and that we are not as alone as we maybe sometimes feel.
While I have touched on my own issues with anxiety in previous blog posts, I don’t know that I ever mentioned that I was prescribed medication as part of my treatment. I have dealt with anxiety, and more specifically panic attacks, for over fifteen years now. I resisted getting any form of help at first because I told myself I could handle it (whatever “it” was). It wasn’t until I landed in the ER twice thinking I was having a heart attack I decided this might be more than I can face alone. A couple years of therapy later, a bunch of self-help books, and finally a long conversation with my primary care doctor and I ended up with a prescription for Xanax and a diagnosis of a panic disorder.
At fist my doctor wanted me to take something stronger that I could use everyday to keep the anxiety at bay. I flat out refused. I didn’t want to take any medication at all let alone something everyday that I thought would make me feel numb to the world. I compromised though and accepted the prescription for a low dose of Xanax that I could take as needed. You guys, again, this is just my story and my experiences. There are so many different degrees of mental health issues, different types of problems people face, some on a daily basis some just in certain situations like me. What I feel is right for me may be vastly different from what someone else needs. That being said, I walked out of the doctors office that day feeling a little defeated because I had accepted medication but also hopeful that this might be a useful tool in fighting some of the really bad attacks I was having.
That was about five years ago. I have to admit that I am very glad I finally relented and gave the medication a try because it has helped me more than a few times avoid a full on panic attack or lessen one that snuck up on me. I don’t today nor have I ever taken it on a daily basis (I maybe go through two to three bottles of it a year, depending on how the year is going!) but I carry it with me all the time just in case I need it….kinda like a security blanket I guess! 🙂 It does make me feel better knowing I have it if I need it and maybe that in and of itself is therapeutic for me.
The whole reason I brought this up today is because I realized suddenly this morning just how long it had been since I had to reach for a pill. I am talking probably months you guys. Which means it has been that long since I have felt an anxiety attack coming on or was actually having one. That’s pretty amazing given that last year (2017) I was having several attacks a week!! Now nothing in my life has changed in any major way other than well, for me! I have the same job, same relationships, same everything (I am sad to report I did not win the lottery this week) other than the unwanted weight and low self-esteem that I was carrying around last year. It really hit me this morning just how much our physical and mental health is connected. I feel like I lost the weight and a bunch of anxiety right along with it! I wish I could put into words exactly what it feels like, but the closest I can come to describing it is I feel like a weight have been lifted not only off my physical body but also my mental self. I just feel lighter.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know this is an issue I will probably always struggle with to some degree. But if I can lessen that degree significantly by taking better care of myself, exercising properly and eating right, well that is a huge win in my book!! I also want to make it a point to talk more about my mental health as my journey progresses as well. I talk so much here about what I eat and how I take care of my physical being but I realized today that I don’t spend enough time addressing the other part of me that you can’t see from the outside. I don’t feel like I am doing this journey or the mighty kind few of you that read this justice by leaving that part out. I hope that by talking about my own issues and how I deal with them that maybe someone else out there struggling will know it is not hopeless and that they are not alone. After all, if we can talk about not eating gluten and where we get our protein from and what supplements we use to build strong muscles, why can’t we talk about the things we use and do to be mentally strong as well?
More to come on this topic but for now I hope you all have a great Thursday and as always thank you so much for reading!!