Why Getting Help Is So Hard

by J.A. Anderson | September 7th, 2017

Recently, I came forward and explained my anxiety to my mom. I’m getting help now, which is good.

But it’s so hard.

First of all, the guilt. It’s ridiculous. My anxiety makes me guilty about having anxiety. I feel as if suddenly I’ve made everything about me. I’m selfish, it’s just an excuse for attention, etc. And all of these are so untrue. But it happens anyways.

It causes more anxiety. Suddenly, I have to talk to doctors about it. I have to explain to my teachers, face to face, that my anxiety gets so bad, I have to leave the room. I have to journal down what’s happening to explain it in the future. It’s a lot to do, but it’s important. But to me, it’s more on my to-do list, adding to my anxiety.

And it’s a little embarrassing. It isn’t my fault I have anxiety. It isn’t anyone’s fault. But as I try to tell myself to breathe, it’s just math class, there isn’t anything that could possibly go wrong here, I feel stupid. I know my anxiety is irrational, but I can’t always stop it. Now I have to talk to doctors, teachers, counselors because my brain believes sitting in class or raising my hand to talk requires a fight-or-flight response.

All I’m saying is, get help no matter how hard it is. You’re worth it and you owe it to yourself to get better. It might be harder, but it’s a lot harder to suffer in silence.

anxiety.

Anxiety

by J. A. Anderson

They are watching me

Even if you say they aren’t, they are

I feel their stares

Can hear their comments about me

Whispered harshly under their breath

The eyes of them stalk me

Even if i am alone

I can’t breathe unless I tell myself to

My stomach always acts as if I’m about to lose everything in it

Where are the exits?
Where is the bathroom?

Where, where, where?
This room is too small

Too dark

My mind is too small

Too dark

My thoughts don’t stop

They just

Go. Go. Go.

I’m drowning inside

Though I’m dry

I’m dying when I am most alive

I can see everything in color

But why does it seem so black and white?

Nightmares haunt my waking days

Where are the exits?

Why are they staring?

When can my thoughts

Just

stop.

 

side effects

I stopped taking my anti-depressant last week. It was first prescribed to me by a Spectrum Health mental wellness expert, and the positive effects on my anxiety were immediate. I could drive somewhere without an anchor in my chest. I could breathe while having a difficult conversation with a boss or parent. I felt genuine love and happiness in my marriage, emotions that should have never vanished.

I attribute my steady improvement and growth in self-esteem and confidence largely to my 5 mg Lexapro swallows. Therapy is certainly the most helpful part of my mental wellness regimen, along with my own journaling and conversations with my husband, but my anti-depressant has aided in lowering my general level of anxiety and allowing me to be successful in my day-to-day activities.

However, I decided last week Thursday that I was sick of the exhaustion Lexapro brought to my days. Before my prescription started, I slept between eight and nine hours a night and occasionally, perhaps once or twice a week, took a one hour nap. While on Lexapro, I began needing ten to eleven hours of sleep a night and could rarely make it to evening without laying down for a nap. My brain was certainly happier with the extra serotonin, but I think it was getting exhausted from the constant chemicals. (As someone else said, I’m not a doctor, but I can speak from my own experience.)

All those extra hours of sleep added up and stole valuable time from my productivity and hobbies. So I stopped taking it abruptly last week, after a night of twelve hours of sleep. Ain’t nobody got time to sleep that much.

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And the dizziness started. I’ve been feeling nauseous, light-headed, dizzy, and unfocused for five days now. I didn’t realize that side effects can also happen after you stop taking prescription drugs. Just now, I googled “does stopping a Lexapro prescription cause withdrawal?” and found this entire page of testimonies about how eliminating or lessening doses of Lexapro can cause a whole slew of side effects. Why weren’t we told about this possibility before being prescribed such a serious drug? I’m grateful to my prescription for the benefits I had while on it, but I’m not looking forward to enduring up to a month of dizziness and nausea. We’re talking end of July here. That’s a long-ass time. I want to reclaim my days and make progress with self-love and confidence, and skipping meals and using an inhaler aren’t what I had in mind.

Any of you suffering from mental wellness-related withdrawal symptoms? I feel for ya. Tell me about your experiences in the comments section!

 

anxious? you aren’t alone

Kelsey May                                                                                                                 February 7, 2017

I’ve been working on myself this year, really paying attention to my body’s needs and voicing my concerns as soon as they arise. I got married last fall (hurrah!) but only a month after the wedding, I was crying almost every day for no reason. I felt unhappy, like a merry-go-round spinning in place, not going anywhere even though I was going through the actions of life. My partner held me and tried to understand why I was upset, but there really wasn’t a reason; I just was.

I started seeing a therapist at Spectrum Health – an awesome testament to how far mental health has come, that my doctor’s office is employing a full time social worker to address issues of mental wellness. She was amazing; she listened and offered practical advice; she talked about deep breathing and the normalcy of anxiety; in follow-up appointments, she remembered concerns I had previously brought up.

It was incredible to be acknowledged by a professional, to have my anxieties aired and empathized with. Many of us struggle with anxiety and depression. Personally, I feel anxious when I’m around a lot of people who I want to “fit in” with or whose admiration I desire. I have bad habits derived from my anxiety: I pick my nails and nail beds, I scratch my head, I chew things and fiddle with objects. These aren’t attractive character traits, but I’m admitting them so you, reader, might see your own tendencies in them and feel a sense of community. You aren’t alone in your struggle. You are one of millions of other teens and young adults who get nervous before public speeches or make impulsive choices to feel a sense of belonging. We want to feel part of something larger than ourselves, but we don’t always make the best decisions about how to do that. And others, those people we so desperately yearn to connect to, often hurt us out of their own selfishness and painfully low self-esteem.

So how do we meet our needs and work toward mental wellness?

One amazing thing I’ve learned is that there are two types of expectations we hold: our ideal expectation and the standard expectation. Here’s an excerpt from The Art of Happiness (interviews with the Dalai Lama):

For example, my ideal expectation in my relationship would be hugs every single day, fun, creative dates almost every day, and never having to clean up after each other. The standard (or more realistic) expectation would be: hugs every day we see each other, fun, creative dates when we can afford them, and minimal cleaning up after each other. See the subtle differences?

Here’s an example of a way I held myself to the wrong expectation. I gained about fifteen pounds last year after I came down with mono and wasn’t allowed to participate in any rigorous activity for fear of a spleen rupture (yikes!). I wanted to lose those fifteen pounds and felt awful about my appearance every day, even though I wasn’t making time to exercise so there was no way to lose the weight. But I ideally wanted to attain my lower weight, so I was mentally dissatisfied with myself, feeling disappointed in my figure, feeling sorry about my situation. It was absurd to expect that I could lose the pounds without time and effort, so I adopted a more realistic expectation, that I simply start exercising and that became my goal, rather than focusing on my physical appearance. It helped. I’ve lost three pounds, and even if I don’t lose anymore, I’m gaining muscle and definition, and my stamina is improving, and that makes me proud.

I also highly recommend that you see a counselor or therapist. If the first person doesn’t help, keep trying new therapists until you find one who understands you and who gives you the advice or assistance you need. My first counselor was kind and a great listener, but she didn’t give me practical advice. My current therapist specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, meaning she focuses on how I can change my own thinking and adopt healthier habits. That is the kind of assistance I needed, and it’s made a noticeable difference in my attitude and spirit. My partner has noticed a significant change in my day-to-day wellbeing; I haven’t cried for no reason in two weeks. I am motivated to write and hang out with my family and clean my desk. I am more honest and talk about my feelings before they turn into problems. I actually want to wake up in the morning and get started with my day.

So what changes do you need to make in your mental wellness habits? Do you want to implement yoga or start journaling? Do you need to take one night off a week to just spend some time alone and practice self-care? Do you need to be more honest with a significant other or a friend about how you’re feeling? Do you need to talk with your parents about your emotions and seek professional help?

Feel free to comment here, and I’ll do my best to connect you with resources or give advice, if I feel competent! Thanks for reading! Live well, reader. Peace.


Photo credit: Mr. Edventure