I’m eight weeks into taking an SSRI for anxiety and six weeks into cognitive behavioral therapy and I honestly feel like I’ve discovered a magic trick. If you’ve been on the fence at all about getting help, here’s my story–I hope it will help convince you, because it took a long time to convince myself.
I’ve been anxious my whole life. Even as a little kid I worried obsessively about things that were never likely to happen. As an adult, worrying about everything seemed like a normal way to live and people who didn’t were just too stupid to not worry. I had panic attacks. I judged everyone constantly and gave myself the worst of it. I lived with so much fear about the present, the future, relationships, job performance, planes falling out of the sky, car crashes, animal welfare, social situations, doing it wrong, where “it” could be literally anything…I COULD GO ON. And on. And on.
Here’s the kicker–I thought I was coping pretty well. It took a whole combination of things to push me to get help: My favorite coworker talked openly about his wife taking medication for anxiety, at length, many times over the course of a couple years (thanks, Karl). My mom was diagnosed with cancer this year, so “coping” got a little harder. And a loved one sat me down and said, in short, “You’re really negative and it’s hard to be around.”
I didn’t know until I was taking the GAD-7 survey in the doctor’s office that irritability and judgment were a symptom of anxiety. And I had NO IDEA that therapy–especially CBT–gives you tools to help change your thought patterns. This seems as obvious as realizing that getting enough sleep makes you feel rested, or that lifting weights gives you muscles, but mental health was a mystery to me–maybe because I was so profoundly unhealthy, or maybe because I heard depression discussed a lot more than anxiety.
So I’m talking about it here. SSRIs are, in my opinion, a miracle of the modern age. I’m not a zombie; I don’t feel like my issues have just been numbed. I’m still myself–but it’s so much easier now to not let that self spiral into worry/negativity when things get rough. Therapy is fucking hard work and I have lifetime of distorted thinking to change, but feeling stronger mentally makes doing that work easier. And that work is so worth it. I can already feel the difference.
If I know you in real life (or even if I don’t) and you want to talk to me more about this, hit me up. And if I can help you find a doctor or therapist, let me know. If you are struggling, hang in there. There’s people and tools out there that can help. I didn’t really believe that until two months ago.