Recently, I scrolled through my Facebook timeline to discover a post that a friend of mine shared and it made me significantly upset. It was a set of two photos. The first was a cluster of pills and beside it, a photo of a green, summer-feeling forest. The caption read something along the lines of the theory that you don’t need pills for anxiety because nature is a natural medication.
I’ve noticed that there’s quite a few people who think that this is the only way anyone should be coping with anxiety. Yes, nature is beautiful and it is a natural remedy and of course it can help. There’s also the people who tell you to “just exercise”. This can also help, but are these methods always going to be the answers for helping a serotonin deficiency?
Everyone has their own way of managing an anxiety diagnosis, and sometimes they choose medication. That is okay. It is not your job to shame them for this decision.
In my case, I did not want to go on medication, but I when given the choice, I realized that I needed to for multiple reasons. These reasons should be private and never be up for debate but I’m going to let you in on my experience with anxiety and my choice to take meds.
So, for those of you who truly believe that nature is the only therapeutic device needed for someone who suffers from anxiety, here is my story.
It was my fourth session with my therapist. The fourth week that I couldn’t speak. I wasn’t choosing not to voice how I felt, I literally couldn’t. It was just straight hyperventilation and tears for each 45 minute session. Each week, she would continue to ask questions and I tried my hardest to answer, although I could barely catch my breath.
“How is your home life?”
“Are you dating anyone?”
“Do you like your job?”
Normal questions, right? Questions that should be followed by simple answers.
I mean, maybe if I took a jog through the woods before my meeting with a stranger who was clearly beautifully unflawed, I could have given her the rehearsed answers. I could have simply said that my home life was great, my boyfriend loved me, and I was happy in my career. These would have been lies but maybe nature would have helped me speak them!
Regardless of the lies I wanted to communicate, you need to know that every ‘simple’ question she asked, hit harder, one after another.
This was the truth.
My home life? I wanted nothing more than to desperately run away from the place I called home. I dreaded being there. My bed kept me hostage in that little purple bedroom. If you were held captive somewhere, wouldn’t you want to leave, too? So, tell me again how if I actuallyran I wouldn’t feel anxious about being in my own house?
Was I dating anyone? Yes. Did he love me? No. The reality was that I was in an abusive relationship and I called it love. I confused the bruises with passion, the harsh words with critique, and the manipulation with romance. I thought this was what I deserved. I would cry each night wondering why I wasn’t good enough. My self-hatred and anxiety were close friends. So, would I have been fine if I just stopped and smelled the roses?
My job? Well, sometimes my panic attacks would arise there. When this happened, I would lock myself in the bathroom and call anyone to come get me. Of course, when they came to the rescue, I wouldn’t unlock the door. I would hyperventilate with tears falling down my cheeks until my entire face was swollen and I could barely breathe. If I took a morning jog through a scenic route on those days, would I have been okay?
Call me foolish, but I don’t believe that.
So, back to the woman who sat several feet across from me. The woman with the degree who I needed to pay to ask me how I feel.
“I think that you should immediately see a psychiatrist who can prescribe you medication.”
I remember thinking to myself that I’m utterly psychotic. I couldn’t just be the type of crazy where you sit on a stupid suede couch once a week and cry. I was okay with being that kind of crazy. But, I wasn’t ready to meet another stranger, a stranger who would give me pills. I didn’t understand, so I asked her why.
“This is your fourth session and you have barely been capable of speaking more than a few words. I don’t usually request that my patients go on medication, but I think it’s necessary for you. We need to talk about what’s going on.”
And, I did just that. I went to the psychiatrist she recommended. We talked about anxiety and panic disorder and she explained chemically, what was going on in my brain. Still an anxious mess, she asked me one question that I answered honestly, and I will never forget her reaction.
“How many panic attacks do you experience in one day?”
I barely knew what a panic attack was when I met her. I casually told her that I suffer from approximately 30-40 panic attacks on a good day. I watched her choke on her coffee. She asked me how I have lived like that for such a long period of time. I told her I had no idea what anxiety was, or that this was not normal.
Long story short, I took the pills. Call me crazy if you want. But please, don’t tell me I just need nature.
I refuse to surround myself with people who can’t seem to understand that my medication isn’t up for discussion. I won’t let anyone play doctor and try to pick at my brain, or tell me what I need.
With that said, that friend who posted those photos has lost my trust. That’s one person I know I can’t run to when I’m feeling anxious. Don’t be that friend.