Today marks one year since I started this blog. One year since I started taking my first ever long-term prescription medication. One year since I decided that the side effects were worth an attempt to get out of the deep hole I was finding myself stuck in, unable to escape on my own despite my desperate attempts to do so.
One year since Cipralex changed my life.
It has been an up and down year for me. The side effects at the beginning were nasty. It was hard to keep going through those first months, but I felt like I didn't have any other choice. I had to give it an honest try. I had to do it for my kids, for my hubby. And it was hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done. But it ended up being worth it in the end, as hard things often are, and I've come to realize that likely, I will take Cipralex for the rest of my life. As I look back over my entire life and think of all the thousands of times I had nervous butterflies over trivial things, and all the times that I teared up over things that didn't deserve tears...well, I realize that my anxiety started a lot earlier than I was willing to acknowledge. I've had it my whole life; I just called it "shy" and "embarrassed" for over 30 years.
Something that I want to point out here, because I know it comes up in anxiety conversations, is that my panic and then anxiety came out of nowhere; not from worrying or stress or tough times. While I am a perfectionist, and I do have high expectations for myself and my family, my anxiety and panic has never come from worry. I'm not a worrier. I do think that the start of my panic attacks was my body's response to starvation; something to get my attention, and get it good, and let me know that I had to do something. Right. Now.
And I did do something, and it worked. I unfortunately had a bit of a relapse recently and I know that it is because I'm not taking the best care of myself anymore. In the paraphrased words of my seven year old son, "my brain knows there is nothing to be anxious about, but my body remembers the fear". First my supplements slipped, then my water consumption, next the rigid schedule of protein intake, the adequate calories, the exercise... Yesterday as I was sitting in the gym at the kids' school, waiting for the Remembrance Day assembly to start, I felt the start of cold tingling extremities and intestinal unhappiness. I actually thought to myself, "Are you kidding me?!??" My first panic attack ever took place in that gymnasium, three and a half years ago.
Anyway, here I am again, a year from my rock bottom, starting over at a better place than my first starting point, but starting again nonetheless. I'm proud of how far I've come, all that I've learned about panic, anxiety and myself, and I'm super proud that when doctors gave up on me, I didn't give up on myself. I fought.
My intention for this blog was (and is) to bring light to mental illness. I want to reassure people that they aren't alone, and to encourage them to seek help if they need it, and to try medication if they have tried everything else to no avail. Don't lose hope! I don't think anxiety needs to be hidden nor do I think it is something to be ashamed of. Talking about it brings a special bit of relief, and lightens the load a lot. If anyone needs to chat, I'm here. xo