Last Tuesday was World Mental Health Day. Fittingly, it was also the day where I started my journey towards medication for my social anxiety.
Even more fittingly — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this — the fact that I have to get medicated for anxiety gives me anxiety. It’s like an endless feedback loop, but instead of your favorite band playing, some really god-awful emo band you can’t stand is playing instead.
And it turns out you’re the lead singer. Sucks doesn’t it?
And as you’re sitting inside one of the clinic’s rooms listening to your doctor spelling out your options, you get even more anxious. And that’s after the barrage of 30-plus questions about your family history and gut-wrenching retelling of childhood memories. Is she done yet?
Here are the 10 thoughts that go went through my mind (and maybe many other anxious people) when I finally took the huge leap to getting medicated.
1. Am I really this fucked up?
The first thought that pops up in any anxious mind. And the answer? Of fucking course not. You’re you. Not your anxiety. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise — especially not your mind.
2. I kind of want to take them, but I kind of don’t.
I’m proud I’m taking a giant leap forward to getting better, but I kind of don’t want to. It’s kind of scary to think about. And it’s making me anxious...
3. Am I going to OD?
Even when you know you’re completely capable of following the recommended dosage, and you’ve triple checked to make sure caffeine and alcohol won’t cause any damage, you’re still paranoid of accidentally taking one too many pills and ending up like so many of your favorite celebrities.
4. Was that too insensitive of a joke?
Probably not. But anxiety is making you overthink it, isn’t it?
5. Is this going to mess with my sleep pattern?
Or appetite? Make me drowsy? What if I don’t wake up for work in time? OMG I’m going to lose my job. That’s it. I’m moving to Finland. And I’ll probably starve to death from not knowing if I’m hungry or not. Might as well just stay in bed all day.
6. Decreased libido?!
As if I needed any reason to be more anxious in the bedroom.
7. Everyone is going to judge me.
So should I bother telling anyone? What are people going to say? That’s it. I’m staying in my bedroom for the rest of my life.
8. I’m going to have to take these forever.
Maybe I won’t. But for now it pretty much seems like it. Well I hope they taste good, at least.
9. Wait ... medicine can potentially cause more anxiety?!
It’s listed as one of the extreme side effects. That means it’s highly unlikely to happen. But still: Isn’t this supposed to cure my anxiety?
9. Yeah, you might be messed up. But you’re incredibly fucking brave for doing this.
It might be embarrassing to know you need medication to get through your day, but hey, tons of people do it. And for different reasons too. If they get to do it, so do you. And if they can treat themselves right, so can you too.
10. Everything is going to be OK.
Whether it takes three months or 10 years, somewhere deep down we know there’s a rational part of our bodies telling us that this too shall pass. So don't you worry. Taking meds doesn’t make you any less of a person.
But one day, it will make you a stronger one.
Anxiety is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people around the world. If you feel like you have anxiety or know someone who suffers from it, there is help. Check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for more information.