Disclaimer: this is a personal thing that I want to talk about and it helps to process by writing and sharing. Please know that my intention is a MILLION percent not to offend anyone in any way. But I know this can be a sensitive subject, and I’m so sorry if anything comes out weird. That’s truly not what I meant.
So I mentioned to the Health Unit here that I’ve been having more trouble on planes. It’s not the end of the world. I’m still flying regularly. But I usually deal with it by forgetting that I have an issue until the next flight and then white knuckling my way through it. I wanted to try to be proactive. Get in front of the issue. You know, responsible adulting.
The told me that the regional psychologist would be visiting soon and would I like an appointment? I said, sign me up!
So I had my appointment . . .
After sharing about my problem and a bit more, the psychologist fairly quickly diagnosed me with a general anxiety disorder that I’ve had all my life.
He recommended a combination of medication (Zoloft) and cognitive behavioral therapy.
So I’ve been doing a lot of processing.
I’m actually not surprised on the anxiety diagnosis. I’m an anxious person. Always have been. I know that I worry about things more than most people. I know that the WAY I worry is different than how most people worry.
But I honestly that this was getting better. I don’t feel that crazy drumbeat in my head that no one else can hear NEARLY as often.
The Doctor suggested that I’ve just gotten better at coping with the anxiety. But then it all comes rushing back in certain situations. Like the planes. The plane is just the tip of the iceberg.
So I’m not on Zoloft yet, but I’m trying to be open to the idea of it. I’ll admit that it bothers me, and I’ve been struggling to articulate why.
First, I think I could have responded better if he suggested treatment later in the session. Maybe that’s not how it was at all, but to me, it felt like jumping right to drugs as an answer. In HIS defense, he mentioned he is actually prescribing more drugs as his career goes on because he says he’s seen the best results this way. In his experience, people can do years of therapy, but they can’t overcome genetics or biology. They just can’t. Medication can go a long way to help with that. Which seems fair.
But even if he mentioned it at the end, I know I still wouldn’t have been thrilled. You guys know I’m not thrilled about drugs in general. I do things like avoiding gluten and drugstore deodorant. My first inclination is to think, I can diet or lifestyle my away around this darnnit!
I honestly didn’t think I had an prejudices against drugs though. I DO think they are a great resource and tool and that they can really help people. My friend put it best when she said that most of us aren’t prejudiced about drugs for other people, just ourselves. Apparently.
Maybe I feel like I don’t really deserve a treatment like drugs? Other people with cancer and depression and lots of other things have REAL problems. So I’m anxious. It’s just who I am. Didn’t I get off pretty easy? We all have our things. This is mine.
The “this is me” is probably my biggest hurdle. My anxiety is not all of me, but it has been a part of me for as long as I know. It has certainly shaped who I am. Maybe it’s not always positive, but I know it has made me a prepared person who stays on top of stuff. I’d say that I’ve benefited from it too. What if I don’t even know who I am without it? Or maybe I would be exactly the same, but less anxious. I don’t know.
The psychologist called this the “fish in water” argument. The fish has been swimming in water his whole life. He doesn’t know any different. He doesn’t know that’s it’s possible to feel differently. But that doesn’t mean he can’t.
A friend reassuringly said he still feels like himself. Just like himself on a good day instead of himself on a bad day.
I’m still torn on this “coping mechanism” idea. Isn’t this just a part of life? As we get older, we get to know ourselves better. We know how we work best, and we know how to cater to ourselves. Isn’t this the fun part of growing up?
These are things I’ve done that I suppose are coping techniques:
- Get to school 15 minutes before most people to make sure I can get a parking spot and not have to deal with parking right beside someone
- Handing a friend money and leaving a group dinner early because I’d rather overpay than have to deal with the rigamarole of splitting the check
- Saying no to attending an event because of worry about being somewhere afterwards on time
- Checking my keys and phone three times before I leave the house
I mean is this coping? Or just things that make good sense?
In a way, our whole adventure overseas is one giant coping mechanism I suppose. A very aggressive way of removing myself from many stressful situations.
I just really felt like I’d been doing better. Between the food and the yoga and the stress reduction, my mind really is so much more at peace. Except for those times when it isn’t. But at what point is it normal and at what point does it need to be treated?
I suppose for me, treatment would be for when you feel like the problem is affecting your life. Other than this pesky flying thing (which I’m still doing), I really didn’t think it was. But maybe I just can’t tell because I’m in it.
I’m a little surprised by my reluctance to try. I’m all about optimization and self experimentation. If I don’t like it, I just stop taking it. Easy peasy. So why so much hesitation?
I am taking other steps in the meantime. I’ve ordered a cognitive behavioral workbook on anxiety. I’m trying to schedule an appointment to talk to someone more regularly here.
And I’m talking to you guys. I want to keep talking. It helps me process and hearing your experience is crazy helpful. I’m hearing a lot of “me toos.” I’m hearing people who wish they’d done a medication sooner. I’m hearing people who say the medication has helped. All of this is wonderful information, and I welcome your stories.
If you have anything to share, I’d love for you to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks a million. I’ll keep you guys posted.