In general, I avoid pills. I have my whole life.
Vitamins fine, but I even avoid taking Tylenol for a headache until it’s really bad. I have no grand health conscious reason behind not taking pills other than fear. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a control freak and I worry about how medications will affect me. Beyond that, my family history predisposes me to addiction so that makes me nervous as well.
I’ve been trying to manage my anxiety for years with eating healthy and exercising but recently realized it just wasn’t cutting it. Finally with some gentle nudging from friends I talked to my doctor who referred me to a psychiatrist to do an assessment.
We went over everything. What I do for a living, how many kids I had, recent changes, so he could get a general overview of my life. Then I shared with him my concerns. Not sleeping because I’m waking up over the silliest things. Always finding some crazy scenario that “could” happen to the kids. Not to mention taking helicopter parenting to the next level – to the point they couldn’t have fun because I was there, picturing something awful happening. Luckily, I’ve not had any full on panic attacks but I know friends who have. He diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder . Then sent me off with a prescription for a month of low dose pills and just to be safe, some sleeping pills that I was only to take if I needed them. We talked about the side effects as well so I knew what to watch for.
The First Week
The pharmacist mentioned to me when I filled my prescription that I would probably feel really tired the first month, this was the most common side effect. And I did. But on the other hand, I slept very well and had no need to take the sleeping pills. I was about a week in to taking the pills when the first thing happened that made me stop and go “whoa”. It was a work issue, something that I would have been completely freaked out about normally but – I wasn’t. I immediately called my very good friend and went over the whole scenario with her. For lack of a better word I asked her “Is this how it feels to be “normal”?”
The First Month
Things continued happening. Here and there, something would come up and my reactions were just completely different. My horrible happenings imagination? Not completely gone but the ability to actually say to myself – you’re being ridiculous – and push it away and have it STAY AWAY. It’s a bloody miracle. My kids have actually mentioned to me that mommy seems happier. My Husband and my friends are proud of me and they see the difference too.
The Follow Up Appointment
Honestly the first thing I said to the doctor was thank you. I told him about the things that had happened over the last month and how strange it’s been. He was surprised that the low dose he’d given me had had such great results so quickly and asked me how long it’s been since I felt the way I have for the last month. I had to sit back and think. It was before kids – almost 10 years.
Medication isn’t for everyone, but I wanted to share this story for those of you who, like me, are afraid. Afraid of the stigma, the possible dependency, heck just saying to my doctor “I think I might need medication” was scary. It’s an admission that I don’t have it all together. And I didn’t – heck I don’t. But I was suffering because of it. I feel like I’ve gotten my life back and still have moments when I stop and go, “Wait, is this really me”? Because it’s amazing. Maybe I’ll have to take these pills for the rest of my life. Maybe the dose will need to go up as the years go on. Right now I’m focused on actually enjoying the moments in my life, instead of spending 80% of them scared of things that may not even happen.
~ An Alberta Mama