As I said in my last post, the panic attack I had the other day while I was driving in the blizzard has caused me–again–to think more about the place medication may have in my life. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you probably can relate to me when I say I would love it if I never had one again in my life. To put it frankly, they suck.
There are some reasons why medication could be helpful for someone who’s dealing with anxiety: It can be a bridge to emotional wellness if you’re struggling with your feelings, or finding yourself a little “stuck” in some negative thought patterns. For me personally, even though I consider myself to be mostly recovered from the eating disorder I developed nearly 10 years ago, there are still some negative ideas related to food and my body that I still struggle with sometimes. Medication can also be helpful in dealing with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I also still occasionally experience as a result of some things that happened during–and especially toward the end–of the abusive relationship I was in a few years ago.
Medication can be a nice bandage for helping you get to where you want to be emotionally, but unless you want to be on it for the rest of your life, you need to do some work on your own. It’s important to learn methods for dealing with your emotions, whether that’s on your own with some good books, or (preferably) with a therapist you can talk to and learn from. For many, this learning can also be done naturally and without medication. After a lot of reflection on my part (and a lot of patient listening on the part of my boyfriend), at this time in my life, I still think that that’s the best option for me. Why?
If you could have seen me a few years ago, you would have seen a very different person. After the tumultuous end of the abusive relationship I mentioned earlier, I was having panic attacks nearly every single day. I often couldn’t sleep because I was wracked with anxiety. I was extremely depressed, and I was often ashamed to be around other people because I felt like my life was one big giant failure.
Today, my life is much different. I’ve taken all of those bad feelings and used them to fuel me in reading and learning everything I can about cognitive behavioral therapy in order to improve my thought patterns, relax, and empower myself to begin working towards some of my larger life goals (like my eating disorder recovery book project ). Most days, I feel completely normal, and I consider the overall quality of my life to be pretty GREAT. When I first told my boyfriend I struggled with anxiety a few months after we began dating, he was truly surprised because of the fact that I’m often laughing and smiling.
My smile is completely genuine. I am happy, and my anxiety does not control my life. Even though it’s true I had a panic attack last week, considering the circumstances, I don’t think it should be all that surprising. A lot of people would probably feel panicky in the same situation. For me, that panic attack was just a reminder that even though I consider most of my emotions to be pretty “normal” now, there is always still room for improvement. I need continued awareness of my thoughts so I can work on those that may be bringing me down, or working me up. I am going to begin keeping better track of the times when I feel anxiety in my life, so I can learn to better counter that anxiety while it’s still small (in a future post I’ll tell you how to keep an anxiety record of your own).
Don’t rule out medication if you’re at a place in your life where you would truly benefit from it. Medication can help you learn the techniques that will help you learn to manage your emotions and live the normal, happy kind of life you desire. But don’t look at medication as the answer. I believe that everyone, regardless of their circumstances or emotional state, would benefit from a little cognitive-behavioral therapy education. Through this blog I’ll share with you some of the methods that have helped me transform my own life.
The best thing about learning those techniques? Not only do they WORK, but they’re completely side-effect free!!