my relationship with Anxiety

Soon, I hope to write a post more directly about the cost-benefit analysis that someone must go through to figure out if the current medication(s) they are on is the right fit for the Depression and/or Anxiety they are dealing with. As a way to set some context, I found the post below (written in 2018) about my relationship with Anxiety. (Slightly revised.)

My Depression is currently treated and has been nearly all the time by the medications I have taken since my mid-thirties. When one med mix loses its effectiveness, and the Depression comes oozing into my life again, it’s time for a med change. Moving from one set of drugs to another is not a fun process. But it is necessary, as constantly living with Depression would be incredibly difficult and make many parts of my active life off limits. So thankfully, over the years, my mental health med doctor has been able to help me find the right med mix to put the Depression in my rearview mirror.

My Anxiety is a tougher nut to crack. First off, finding the right med (or meds) that compliments my Depression drugs usually involves some trial and error, making the time of experimentation quite difficult. I know things are not working when my OCD rears its ugly head. But eventually, we find the right mix and dosage that makes living with Anxiety bearable.

We’ve never been able to put Anxiety fully in that rearview mirror. My doc and I have just been able to reduce the length of time and intensity of anxious episodes. As my doctor says, “Some people are just anxious.” I am one of those people.

I still have extended periods of Anxiety. And I still periodically experience panic attacks — periods of intense physical and emotional pain. But I don’t constantly live in these states. These involve perceptions of a clenched throat, frayed nerves, pained and seemingly inelastic lungs, and brick-brain. And for me, at times in the past, a panic attack was also accompanied by a period of intense sweating, to the point that I had to change my drenched clothes after the episode had passed.

I know my meds are not working if symptoms like these are daily. I usually work to get the panic attacks as something that only happens once every couple of weeks or so.

For me, Anxiety still elicits negative physical aspects (e.g. shortness of breath, increased heart rate, fatigue, etc.). It also makes me fear the future and feel as if I’ve failed my past. Sometimes my Anxiety brings on real or perceived jilted or slurred speech. I feel as if I am making no sense. The attached nervousness makes me feel as if I am shaking, so I feel as if I look ridiculous. My Anxiety also brings on depressive thoughts. Emotionally, I feel small. I feel stupid. I feel beyond insignificant. I feel as if my full essence is completely negative. I feel as if I am a drain on everyone around me.

As I noted above, my doc and I work with meds to reduce how often and how long these episodes are. And here is where some major cost-benefit analysis happens. With any med mix I am on I hope to minimize the side effects — usually fatigue and sleepiness, delayed reactions, and numbed feelings. This tweaking of meds becomes especially sensitive as I work to minimize how often Anxiety rears Its ugly head and how long the episodes last.

My current meds impact me in ways where the cost-benefit analysis is right on the edge of what I need and, unfortunately, some of what I don’t want (more about this in a future post). Also, there are some things I used to really thrive at that are now points of fear for me. I know I am a pretty transparent guy, but I’m going to keep these things off limits for now.

As many followers of my mental health know, I do a lot of work to minimize the onset of Anxiety. Some mornings I meditate while looking at pictures from my garden. Many mornings I exercise.

I also do various things while experiencing Anxiety. Some things I do to bring me back to “the now” rather than being gripped by fear of the future and like I’ve failed in my past (e.g. controlled breathing exercises, meditation, heading out to my garden). I also ask myself why I am feeling anxious — actually a very effective practice. And, of course, I write.

So there you have it. That’s me and a bit about my relationship with Anxiety.

Thanks for reading.

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