It's funny how sometimes my Facebook feed puts right in front of my face what I need to see in a given moment. Last week I was shuffling through my social media accounts...truthfully I was searching for Halloween activities/movies/events that are on a Hocus Pocus level of scary, when I came across this article posted by a blog that I follow called The Mighty. The story was entitled 6 Unexpected Consequences of Taking Medication for Anxiety. hmm, click.
I've shared via this blog that I was diagnosed with anxiety in my early 20's and through counseling and work of my own realized that I've suffered from the symptoms most of my life. Early on after this realization, I was really discouraged by several different medications I tired and gave up on the chemical help all together. I refocused my energy by trying to find other ways to manage the constant feelings of being on edge, needing to keep moving, intrusive thoughts and a lot of the time downright panic. I found DBT and Yoga and meditation. I found self-care routines and meal prep ideas, 10 Ways to Cure Anxiety articles and everything else Pinterest has to offer on the topic. But still at times, the anxiety felt unmanageable and overwhelming.
When I work with my kids - we keep mental health concerns external from our selves which creates some separation and helps with the idea that you are not your diagnosis. We typically create an image and a personality for the anxiety, depression, dis-tractability etc. I've always thought of my anxiety was bigger than me, green and globby like slime. It drapes over me like a giant cape, it's sticky and weighs a ton. It's voice sounds like when you speed up a record, and it's theme music....flight of the bumble bee. I remember explaining this to my doctor and both of us laughing, "you've really put a lot of thought into that" she said. I replied something to the effect of meh, it's helpful when working with kids to think of things that way. Really, it's helpful when working with myself to think of things that way.
So back to this article. I click, open, and read. "After months of avoiding, I finally made an appointment"... she had me from there. I go on to read a story that I truly could have written myself. And it was comforting to know someone sat down to write it, and publish it - putting themselves out there for others.
No medication will work like magic. There is no magic pill.
I found that beginning an SSRI, and giving it a chance was (not THE key but) a key for me. It gave me the foundation I needed to take all of these other great things that I had read, pinned and bookmarked - and set them into action.
The best course for change is a combination of several small, teeny, tiny, changes.
I take my medication every morning, each day I plan 1 self-care activity, I make yoga at least 3 times a week a priority and I shut my computer/work down before 9:30pm.... sometimes. There are days where that green, globby slime is extra sticky and I just can't shake it off and the harder I try, the more it settles in to stay. There are some days where I am crushing it and everything else - goo-be-done; no problems. And we all have days like these - mental health diagnosis or not.
Managing a mental health issue, like anxiety, is a daily process; a process that is not so much lateral as it is cyclical. And, ugh, it takes time and work. Take anything you've ever learned...literally anything; reading, algebra, botany, how to do laundry, how to brush your teeth... how long did it take you to get this down, to strengthen this skill? How long did it take you to feel like - ya know, I've got this... And even after "mastery", do you still screw it up sometimes? Is there still more to learn? Hopefully your answer is yes, because that's what I need it to be to prove my point.
Any hoozle-bees - This was written on a heavy slime day, on a day I couldn't shake the globby anxiety cape. A day that my brain would not sssshhhhhhhh long enough for me to have a single thought at a time. I've learned, over time, that this means that tomorrow, I need to revisit my list of small self-care changes and see where I can pick something up and try again.