Posted 12/28/2018 11:11 AM (GMT -7)
I feel like I need to share this with the hope at least someone out there can find some sense of reassurance or encouragement, especially because Anxiety can sometimes feel like you are losing your mind and there is no hope of going back.
I am a 30 year old male and thinking back I have always been somewhat of an anxious person. However, the last 5 years have been increasingly difficult beginning with my first panic attack while driving on I-70. I can remember like it was yesterday in vivid detail. The tingling limbs, tightness in the chest, a weird-electrical-like surge in my shoulders, etc. I did not think much of it, as time passed and I eventually brushed it off, until it happened again, and again. At the worst, I was having these attacks a few times a week, sometimes multiple times a day for long periods of time. I started avoiding things like driving, crowded places, etc out of fear of having another attack. My work and social life began to suffer. I felt as if there was no going back. My doctor’s all told me I was fine. I remember being so frustrated because “I knew better than them. Something was wrong with me!” I knew I had to do something.
The first thing I did was find my main trigger. What the hell was I worried about? I realized most of it was health related. I would obsess over any ache/pain and consult Dr. Google and learn that I was dying which would send me down the rabbit hole of panic and obsession. Life was Hell for about a year. Last month, I was prescribed Lexapro 10mg. Now, having health anxiety, I looked up online and saw the horror stories of side effects, etc which immediately turned me off the pill. I was on Facetime with my wife one night (she was out of town at a conference) and I broke down in tears because I was afraid to take the pill, thinking it would kill me (I know it sounds crazy). With her support, I took the leap and swallowed the darn thing.
The first week was not much fun. I felt tired, dizzy, and cotton mouth that made my mouth feel like I tried to eat a jar of sand. I thought about giving up but reading other people’s experiences about how the drug takes time to adjust to your system helped me persist. Then, about a week or two in (10 days to be exact) they disappeared. By the second week (and even slightly during the first) I began to notice my thoughts would “stop” before spiraling into obsession and worry. I have not had a single panic attack. Now, a month later, I feel this extra “pep” in my step and this sense of peace that everything is going to be okay. My mood has improved as well. I am more relaxed. crap doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I still have my moments, but these are far less frequent and I am able to snap out of it much quicker. Before, a pain in my chest would mess me up for the whole day and now it is a non-issue. I remember a few nights ago I was with my wife looking at Christmas lights at the zoo. “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree” was playing. It was cold as hell outside and this would normally make me worried about catching a sickness and then becoming anxious (getting sick with anxiety can be the absolute worst). However, I felt this feeling as I held her hand and walked through the displays. The lights were brighter, the music seemed to flow within me and almost make me want to dance, I felt more connected to the world I was in and everything just seemed clear. I didn’t have to filter the world through my anxiety and I could live in the moment. It began to snow and I tried to catch a flake in my mouth like I was a kid again. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I have truly felt like that.
If you are worried about taking medication, listen to the guy who used to be afraid to take Tylenol because he read somewhere that it can damage the liver. Give it a shot, the worst thing that can happen is it does not work for you and you try other means. It could possibly be the best thing you have ever done for yourself. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to have hope. You deserve to live your life without the constant restraints of anxiety. You owe it to yourself. Take the step! (but talk to your doctor first, obviously)