I am so incredibly humbled by the responses I have received in regards to my post “Anxiety Is An Invalid Excuse.” The amount of strangers and friends who have opened their hearts and told me their stories has been incredibly moving. I feel, based on comments, that I owe a more in-depth explanation.
I have evolved through many different anxiety disorders as I have grown. Now, I’ve settled in an area between anxiety and panic disorder. This means panic attacks can hit me at any time, triggered or random.
I feel it’s important to follow up in respect for others who have tried, or are currently on, medication. I have seen many comments on shared posts saying that it sounds as if my anxiety is not controlled. The concept may be to be confusing to many: I imagine it’s incredibly difficult to comprehend for someone who has not experienced the illness as a whole.
Unfortunately, medication is not a simple, quick fix. It can keep symptoms at bay and act as a cushion, but anxiety and panic are powerful.
The truth is, symptoms rarely just go away. Medication is a tool to help cope, not to dissolve them. I’m sure a day will come when there is a full cure for mental illnesses, but at this point in time, our resources are limited to aiding the function of everyday life and learning to live with the disorders we have been given. Since starting medication I have had a significantly less number of panic attacks and my general anxiety symptoms, like constant nausea, dizziness and low appetite, have disappeared completely. It’s the healthiest I’ve been since my first attack at the age of 12. I am now able, most days, to go to school, work, and efficiently act as a seemingly unaffected member of society. That does not mean my illness is gone, it just means I’ve been able to cope in a healthy and proficient way.
I wrote my original post in the frustration of a full-fledged panic attack, the first I’ve had in a few months. To those who experience attacks as well, no, I have absolutely no idea how I did it. I somehow channeled my energy into writing- I swear it was divine intervention. Panic attacks still happen to me on occasion, but I now am able to handle them gracefully, knowing that I have the resources.
I fought the idea of medication for a very long time, thinking I would be able to cope with the symptoms on my own. And I did for a while. It wasn’t until I began having attacks while driving that I decided to give medication a try. It hasn’t dramatically changed my life. But it has given me the confidence and comfort of knowing I now hold the reigns on my issues. Think of it this way: you may take vitamins to protect yourself from getting a cold, as I take medicine to protect myself from getting an attack. Sometimes, precautionary measures can’t stop you from getting sick.
With this aid, I am confident in my ability to stay a healthy and reliable person, employee and friend. It doesn't mean there aren't days I just need to be alone, to deal with whatever mental chaos is greeting me. It does mean that in an instance of bad anxiety or attack, if need be, I can quickly bring myself back to neutral ground and continue working or acting as I was in a calmer state.
Again, thank you so much to everyone who has shared and responded to my post. I have been so incredibly honored to hear your stories and receive your messages. I am so sorry for all of you who can relate to it, but I hope knowing there are hundreds of thousands of others relating as well has comforted you as much as it has comforted me. We are not our mental illnesses. We are simply people succeeding at fighting something that many still do not understand. Thank you for helping me spread the word and acknowledging how real mental illness is.
Everyone has a cross to bear. Anxiety is mine.
I want to make sure you know that there is nothing we can’t do.
With all my love,