Remember when you were a kid and you scraped your knee? And your mom or dad or babysitter or whoever came right over and put a Bandaid on it and kissed it and that kiss meant it was healed? And you really believed that. And you could go about your activities and your fun and your Barbies and LEGOs because you’d been immediately fixed, all by the kiss of someone who loved you.
I wish that anxiety worked like that. And honestly, I sort of went into the medication process thinking it would be. I’d go see a shrink. He’d know immediately what was wrong with me and he’d give me pills to make it all better. Hopefully he wouldn’t kiss me; that’d be unprofessional and weird. But anyway, I thought, I guess, that it’d be easy.
It hasn’t been. There are, of course, side effects a-plenty! I’m practically bursting with side effects! I could give them out at parties, that’s how many side effects I have. My chief side effect is, ironically, feeling more anxious! Isn’t that delightful? To go on medication to relieve anxiety only to wake up every morning with your heart racing? It’s super great.
In my doctor’s office, on the couch, as I explained what I’d been going through for the past year, I started to cry. I had just been mechanically describing my symptoms and all of a sudden, I was weeping. He asked me what was wrong and when I could get words out, I said, “I’m scared that this is my life now.”
What I meant was, that even though I’d struggled with nerves and over-achiever craziness and depression before, it had never been quite as debilitating as it was increasingly becoming. This summer had been a real turning point: I was no longer in control of my mental health. The panic was getting worse. The problem was beginning to affect my choices, my behavior, my ability to work in a way it never had before. I’m not suicidal at all, but at one point, during a panic attack I thought, “If I was dead, I wouldn’t feel this way anymore.” And that is highly unusual for me, and highly worrisome. That’s what I meant by what I said in my doctor’s office. “Is this my life now? Is this how I have to live?”
The answer from everyone was “No, it is not.” So recently, I went on meds.
That same everyone is now telling me to wait it out. That it takes weeks before you start to feel any relief. That it’s not a Bandaid kiss on a scraped knee. It’s not immediate.
That’s the best case scenario right now: “Wait it out.” That’s what I’m supposed to do. When I list my symptoms or when I say it’s hard to get up in the morning, the only thing to say is, “Wait it out.” So right now, I’m waiting it out. And Tom Petty wasn’t wrong. The waiting is the hardest part.
Maybe it won’t get better, and maybe meds aren’t the way to go for me. Or maybe a different medication. Or maybe a change in diet or something else, some other magic factor I’m waiting for that’ll come along and make this all better. It’s like a mental health fairy tale I tell myself before bed every night — right before I swallow a pill.
And more than anything, I hope I am wrong. I hope this isn’t my life now. I hope something will stick. It’s just incredibly hard to believe when what’s supposed to be making you feel better is, at first, just making you feel worse.