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Anxiety: There’s No Shame in Needing Medication to be Healthy

Anxiety: There's No Shame in Needing Medication to be Healthy

Anxiety

Anxiety. I have anxiety disorder. People joke about anxiety and say they have it. But they may not know the extent of what anxiety disorder can really feel like. Today many of us bloggers are sharing our personal stories in honor of Bloggers for Mental Health Awareness, and I’m sharing what anxiety is like for me, as well as how I cope with it.

Anxiety is when you lay awake in bed at night with your mind playing a ‘Greatest Hits’ of your most embarrassing moments, things you wish you could change. Things you can’t undo, yet your brain tortures you in a feedback loop, over and over, making restful sleep impossible.

Anxiety is when you over-analyze every word of every conversation that you have with someone, searching for the subtext you might have missed in the conversation. It’s when you wonder and ask if they hate you, if they’re angry at you, or if something is wrong with you.

Anxiety is when you really want to do something new, but then you’re terrified of all the ways it could go wrong and how you could fail. It can be crippling if you listen to that voice in the back of your head. It can make you afraid to try new things. It can make you afraid to leave your home. It’s like this negative anti-cheerleader in your mind, trying to discourage you at every turn.

When my anxiety was at its worst, it was coupled with depression and I was suicidal. I thought my husband would be happier without me. I thought my family would be happier without me. I couldn’t sleep at night with how my mind twisted things around. I’d finally cry myself to sleep, soundlessly, because I didn’t want to be a burden to my husband. I’d wake up wishing I was dead because if I was dead, I wouldn’t hurt as bad as I hurt then.

I finally recognized that this was not normal and I didn’t want to live like this anymore. I called my doctor and got a therapist. I went on medication. I started working on my issues.

Many of the things that cause me anxiety, I was able to fix. Some of the things, I’m unable to change. Some of my anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance, so medication is required for me to be happy. Having people tell me that it’s terrible that I’m on daily medication that makes my life better and I just need to pray or take a walk to fix my anxiety is dangerous. Not every person can be fixed by those things. There is no shame in needing medication.

Having people tell me that it’s terrible that I’m on daily medication that makes my life better and I just need to pray or take a walk to fix my anxiety is dangerous. Not every person can be fixed by those things. There is no shame in needing medication. You wouldn’t tell a  kid who broke his arm to pray about it or walk it off. You’d tell him to get a cast to fix it.

Yes, I talk to a therapist regularly. Yes, I take anxiety medication daily. I also work out and make an effort to be positive. I practice self-care. All of this together has helped reduce my anxiety, but it’s not completely eliminated.

While I take daily medication to help manage my anxiety, some situations also call for additional medication. I view that medication as armor I put on to allow me to slay the dragon. It protects me and keeps me safe. So rather than being unable to do those things that are scary or super stressful, I’m able to handle them.

If you’re suffering from anxiety, you don’t need to be. Don’t spend months or years feeling miserable. Talk to your doctor. See a therapist. Make a change in your life. I know it’s scary, but it’s worth it.

My friend Brittany from Clumps of Mascara organized the bloggers for mental health awareness.

Check out the other bloggers that participated in #BloggersForMentalHealth campaign:

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19 Comments

  • I also have anxiety, along with depression. We need to remove the stigma that there is shame in getting help or taking medication for it. Mental health is as important as physical. I’m glad you’re working on your mental health! Don’t let other project their issues with it onto you.

    And hello from a fellow #BloggersForMentalHealth blogger! =)

  • I’m comforted when people talk openly about their struggles with mental health. I’ve always had awful anxiety, even as a kid. but in the past year or so it’s spiked significantly and I can barely go outside on my own without my partner around. I constantly feel so small and useless. pretty much the only thing that keeps my brain away from anxiety/suicidal thoughts/sensory overload is focusing on drawing or makeup stuff, but that’s barely keeping myself functional to be honest. I really need to just reach out and make an appointment for a therapist soon, but taking those first steps is incredibly difficult. but I think I might finally do it soon. thank you so much for this honest and encouraging post.

  • As someone who’s gone through anxiety and depression I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for a great therapist and some medication. It’s a personal decision that should be made with your physician. No one has the right to criticize another for their health issues and choices. Thank you for always sharing the truths of your life.

  • Great post! I’ve needed medication for anxiety/ depression and some other related conditions since I was 16, and my life changed DRAMATICALLY when fluoxetine AKA Prozac became available when I was 20. It was life-changing, I still take it, and I refuse to be shamed for it. Nothing much else to say except thank you for keeping this convo going.
    Sadly, there are still a *lot* of people out there who don’t understand this. They would never question someone needing medication for diabetes or blood pressure, but there’s this bizarre idea, as you describe, that we can ‘think positively’. I imagine someone going up to a person wearing a cast on their leg and saying, “Oh come on, I’m sure the break isn’t that bad, why do you have to rely on crutches? They’re just a conspiracy to sell medical walking aids. Snap out of it.”

  • I, too, suffer from depression and anxiety disorder. I appreciate you sharing, because I’ve found there’s a lot of strength in the sharing…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something I dealt with a ton of anxiety about posting, and have gotten the response “me, too”. Despite it being much easier to share nowadays than, say, nearly thirty years ago, when I was diagnosed, there’s still so much senseless stigma attached to mental illness. I wish I’d known before today, so I could prepare a post of my own. I’ll do a better job of keeping up next time around. Thanks again!

  • A few years ago, my husband was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and it’s been so rough on us. I’ve dealt with anxiety issues my whole life, but it’s a whole different experience seeing it from “the other side.” I try to battle my demons without medicines but I don’t do so well at it. I really need to go to the doctor about my anxiety. It’s been getting worse and worse, but I have to try to be strong despite it so that it doesn’t make my husband’s anxiety worse.

    I’ve never understood people who say that medications aren’t needed – my boss says that about my husband’s daily meds.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Hi Courtney I Hope You Are Having a Wonderful Day Today! I Really Want to Thank You for Sharing With Us About Anxiety and for Opening Up About Your Very Personal Experience & Battle With Anxiety, I Really Do Appreciate it & I Think You are Very Brave for Sharing! I Have Definitely Had My Own Struggle With Anxiety & Depression! For Me it’s a Combination of Some Traumatic Events That Happened to Me That Lead to My Anxiety & Depression From Sexual Abuse as a Child, to Bullying as a Teenager, to an Abusive Relationship During My Early 20’s, and a Very Traumatic Motorcycle Accident During My Mid 20’s! I Don’t Think There is Any Shame in Having to Take Medication to Help With Anxiety & Depression and I Know it’s Sometimes Hard to Come Forward and Admit Your Battle With Anxiety & Depression But Admitting You Need Help is a Very Important Step That Needs to Be Taken to Get Better! Having Anxiety & Depression is Nothing to Be Ashamed of, I Know That Now But I Used to Be Embarrased to Admit That I Had Anxiety & Depression Because I Thought it Made Me Seem Needy or Weak! It Took the Support From My Family, Friends, & Doctors and My Faith in God to Start Getting Better! I Know After the Bad Motorcycle Accident I Was Terrified to Even Get in a Car Because I Was So Traumatized and I Had Bad Nightmares for Weeks After the Accident But I Did Reach Out for Help and Then the Healing Process Could Begin With a Combination of Medication, Therapy, Exercises, & the Support of My Loved Ones! I Don’t Know if I Will Ever Be Completely Free of Anxiety & Depression and Physical Pain From the Accident But I Have Found Better Ways to Cope and I’m Still Learning What Works for Me and What Doesn’t But Essentially I’m Pushing Forward & Getting Better! I’m So Happy to Hear How You Have Taken Strides to Get Better and I’m So Proud of You for Doing What’s Right for You and for Caring Less What Someone Thinks of How You Handle You! I’m Really Happy to Hear That You are No Longer in That Really Dark Place Anymore and I Know That Anxiety & Depression Might Occasionally Sneak Up on You But I Have No Doubt That You are Strong Enough to Tackle it Head On! Well Thanks So Much for Sharing This With Me, it’s Nice to Know That I Have Someone to Relate to and Someone Who Understands What it’s Like to Have Anxiety & Depression! Have a Wonderful Courtney, Stay Strong Sweetie! – XO, Jana

  • Thank you sooooo much for sharing your story. You’ve probably healed SO many other people who are going through something similar. I feel like we have to talk about these things to normalize them. Your vulnerability makes you SO strong!

  • Thank you for sharing your story of anxiety. It’s something I know all too well but it never stops being comforting to know that I’m not alone.

  • Excellent post. As you know, I have severe general and social anxiety. You described how it feels perfectly. I take medication, too, and have gone to therapy. If I were anemic, I’d take iron supplements. I’m deficient in serotonin and other chemicals, so I take medications. Simple as that.

  • This is so true. I was on a missions trip in chile (where it’s summer and daylight pretty much all day) and came back to winter in Pittsburgh. I was having bad anxiety about applying to grad school and the cold weather didn’t help with feeling depressed. I went to the doctors and they put me on a medication and I started seeing a therapist. I have come so far in dealing with my anxiety. I don’t know how I lived before. It’s hard to take that first step but once you do it is so worth it. Thanks for your post😊

  • Lately your posts have been really hitting home for me. Both with the Nmom relationship and anxiety. I have a doctors appointment this week to get a dermatologist referral. I think reading this has made me realize it’s time for a change. I’m going to bring up my anxiety and depression and go from there. I’m tired living in it’s safety net and not having the social life I should have. I was always on the fence, if I needed medication, would I go through with it? I would also like to know if I have anything that my mother has…imbalance, bipolar etc. I’m happy for you, that you found ways to manage your anxiety. This encouraged me that even if I do need medication or therapy, so what? Thank you for writing about these things.

    • I’m really happy to hear that these types of posts are helping. They’re incredibly difficult for me to write because I feel like I’m baring my soul to the world.

      It’s great to hear that you’re going to be talking to your doctor about these issues! They can help. I’ve tried a few different types of medications and found that Buspirone works best for me and when I need extra help I take Xanax XR.

      Therapy is scary for a while, facing your worst fears is hard, but it’s so worth it in the end.

  • I can’t love this enough!

    I also was diagnosed with depression and GAD when I was around 21 years old. I was really, really lucky (in a way) because my mom, grandmother and several aunts and cousins had been through the same thing. I saw how my family members suffered but ultimately were able to get treatment and feel better. While it was really hard to realize that my mental health was beyond what I could overcome on my own, I had a support system and felt like I could ask for help.

    If we were diagnosed with diabetes, nobody would say we were weak for taking insulin and tracking our blood sugar. We have to treat our mental health the same way we treat our physical health. Preventative care (talk therapy, exercise, etc) are important for everyone, but some of us need additional help. There is absolutely no shame in that.

    • For years I thought I could handle things and it seemed like I could handle less and less until I didn’t want to leave the house. It’s great that you have a support system to help you see that treatment was the answer. I feel like, in my family, we were told to pray and that was the answer. And for me, it wasn’t enough.

      You are so right, no one tells someone with diabetes to skip their medication. I wish it was more widely accepted for mental health.

      • Yes! I think our culture equates “being strong” with doing everything on your own. Sometimes being strong means asking for help. You have to put your oxygen mask on before you can help others!

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