Today, I accepted a prescription for anti-anxiety medication and made my first appointment with a psychotherapist. I left the doctor’s office nauseous and wondering if my brain could physically explode out the back of my head.
Plenty of my friends have extolled the virtues of medication and therapy, particularly during transitional times of life. I’ve always resisted.
You see, medications and therapy mean asking for help. Not only do I have an aversion to asking for help, but I go blatantly out of my way to avoid it.
Asking for help means being vulnerable. It would be like crying in front of someone, and I don’t do that either. Even when my dog was hit by a car three days before Christmas when I was 15, I didn’t cry in front of my family. Nope, I waited until that night when I was in the privacy of my own bedroom, and then I sobbed my heart out—and continued to do so every night for weeks. I was a big blubbering baby, but at least no body saw it.
Plus there’s this ongoing voice in my head that says my life is pretty damn good and I should shut up and stop complaining. It’s the voice that tells me that plenty of people have far worse problems than the made-up ones in my head so maybe I should just suck it up and deal. Does anyone else hear that voice, or is it just me?
What I realized today was that by finally accepting help, I’m actually starting to deal. This commitment means admitting that even though things aren’t totally fucked up, they also aren’t quite right and maybe waiting to implode isn’t the answer.
After years of pondering the idea that maybe I could use a bit of help in “managing my stress,” I’ve finally run out of excuses. If I’m going to live an authentic life, I must be ready to truly change and to face whatever issues and fears may come up over the next few months as I start on this journey.
We all have the things we don't really want to do but feel we must do. This is mine.
I’ve read that to lose weight or combat addiction in the long-term, you have to do it for yourself not others. I don’t know if that is the case for something like learning to manage anxiety, but I do know that to push through this, I can’t do it for me. It’s too scary to do it just for me. I have to do it for the two people who matter most to me.
I’m doing it for my husband so that he doesn’t always have to be the rock, so that he can share his deepest fears instead of holding them inside because telling me about them will send me into panic.
And I’m doing this for my sweet six-year-old who stopped in a panic yesterday morning as we walked to her classroom and exclaimed, “Mommy, you need a pass. You have to have a pass!!” (I had one; she just couldn’t see it under my coat). This is the same child who last year began asking me nearly every day when we pulled up to school whether we were late or on time.
She’s a worrier just like me. If anxiety does indeed have a genetic component, then my daughter already faces a challenge. She doesn’t need to contend with mine.
If I can learn to live a calmer life, then I can teach her to do so as well. And perhaps years from now when her own daughter’s seatbelt comes undone halfway home, as my daughter’s did yesterday, her immediate thought won’t be “oh, shit, I have to get home fast because a car is going to hit us and she’s going to fly the windshield.”
In my inner world if you remove your seatbelt in a moving car, you will certainly and immediately be smashed to smithereens by oncoming traffic. I don’t want my daughter to feel these moments of irrational and instant dread. I want her to do what I suspect most people would do in that situation: calmly pull over to a safe spot, buckle the seatbelt back up and get on with life.