Monday, February 5, 2018

It’s Easy to Take Feeling Calm for Granted

Wow. January was an incredibly tough month. It’s been a long time since my anxiety has gotten that bad, and it wasn’t fun at all.

I was sick for most of January, so I wasn’t sleeping well. I also have anxiety when it comes to taking medication, and I had to take antibiotics to knock out the cough I had. Normally, I’m fine with taking antibiotics, but for whatever reason, this time it freaked me out. Maybe it was because it was a heavy-duty antibiotic and had some really weird side effects. I don’t know. I got through it, but it left me emotionally and physically exhausted, but it did get rid of my cough!

Side note: the side effects included tendinitis and the potential for my tendons to rupture unexpectedly. There was also the possibility of joint issues and nerve damage. Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird?

My doctor also wanted me to start taking low doses of Buspirone so I don’t burn myself out on anxiety. I was nervous about doing so, but also optimistic. If it was going to help so I didn’t feel out of control, it was worth a try. I took my first dose on a Friday night.

On Saturday, I felt like I was underwater. I could barely move, barely think, and barely form a coherent sentence. I was also incredibly grumpy. I’m well aware that it takes 1 to 2 weeks for this medication to have its full effect, but I felt terrible—whether from the medication or my own mind, it was real to me. I couldn’t bring myself to take another dose, which didn’t help my anxiety.

I also have anxiety when it comes to traveling. Both of my boys are in basketball at the moment, and they travel to different towns for tournaments. They aren’t far, an hour and a half at the most, but that distance is enough to get my mind working overtime. My youngest also had his birthday one weekend, and he wanted to go to Omaha to The Amazing Pizza Machine. Thankfully, I have Xanax to help for those short trips.

By the end of the month, I felt like I was at wit’s end. I had three panic attacks in the course of 2 days. On a Monday, I was freaking out so bad I couldn’t drive my kids to school—a task I’ve accomplished countless times in the past. I was able to ride that panic attack out, but on Tuesday morning, I couldn’t. I had to have Xanax intervention. Same with Wednesday and Thursday, but I was able to take my kids to school.

I don’t know exactly what triggered the panic attacks at the end of the month. It could have been because I was exhausted and no longer had the energy to sustain my emotions. Perhaps it was the super special full moon. It’s hard to say. Whatever the reason, it was horrible feeling like I had no control and being afraid to do normal, everyday tasks.

Feeling calm is one of those things that most people probably don’t think about. They don’t go through their day thinking, “Huh. I’m feeling pretty calm right now,” they just go through their day. I’m constantly looking for and acknowledging those moments when I’m calm so that I can replicate that feeling during moments of anxiety. During one panic attack, I was convinced my brain was broken and I would never feel calm again. That’s an incredibly difficult thought to deal with. It’s scary and depressing. Thankfully, it wasn’t true.

Because I’ve been in a heightened state of anxiety, I’ve been taking my Xanax more often than normal. I only take half a pill, but it doesn’t sit well with me. Remember, I have anxiety about taking medications. I was convinced that I was going to become dependent and wouldn’t be able to function without it. Once again, another scary, depressing thought. And I would feel that way right up until the Xanax kicked in.

It became apparent to me that something had to change. I had to fix my life so that I could feel better and deal with the anxiety. No matter what thoughts run through my head during an attack, there’s an underlying issue that is pushing me to feel that way, and the best way to figure out what that is is with professional help.

I got an appointment with a local counselor. I talked to my doctor’s office daily for half of a week. I researched online to find ways to combat this affliction naturally, and I found some things that are definitely helping. I can’t say if this trick will work for everyone, but it’s helping me. I’ve been able to once again take my kids to school in the morning without having to take a Xanax first.

My goal is to be able to get my anxiety and panic attacks under control without having to take medication. While it helps for my extreme, immediate needs, it’s not a viable long-term solution. Hence, I will continue to see a mental health provider, talk to my doctor, and learn natural techniques to keep me calm. It’s an awesome feeling to know that I can take back control over my body and brain. It’ll take a while, but the baby steps give me hope and encouragement.

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