Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "rest of your life"...

I am not big on measuring things in absolute terms. I am 34 and have never been married. I do not yet have any children. I love changing my hair color, but will NOT get any tattoos...too permanent!

It's not a fear of commitment...I'm actually often very dedicated and tenacious in projects and relationships. I just don't see the point, generally, in making declarations about "the rest of your life". Until earlier this week.

I went to visit my prescriber and he made a comment about how I probably will need to take a stimulant medication for the rest of my life, but can choose to taper off of the anti-depressant that I take for anxiety at any time I wish. Obviously, the truth of the matter is that I don't HAVE to take either of them, I just feel that I am more effective and happy and calm in my life when I do.

I actually insisted, however, that I had NO interest in discontinuing use of the anti-anxiety med. And I can't even imagine wanting to. Before I started taking it, I knew that I had persistent, ambient anxiety floating around in my body. I was aware of its existence, and frustrated enough that I wanted to "do" something about it, as a side project of my ADHD diagnosis. Only once in my life had I sought treatment specifically for anxiety (ridiculous panic to the point that I thought I might die). Did NOT use meds at that time...I was so used to feeling the nag of a lesser anxiety, all the time, that I did not see it as a problem. Oh I knew other people didn't always feel that way...but to me it was normal, and I was even proud at times that I had learned to work around it. Note that I said around...not with...never with...because that kind of anxiety is never working for you, only always against.

If you are "normal" and do not have constant chemical anxiety, when you DO feel anxious, you can acknowledge it as a real, valid feeling and can learn to explore it and find out what it's trying to tell you. I was proud to walk around ignoring if this was a victory over if it wasn't still slowly killing me. Nothing I did ever made it go away. Yes, practicing ignoring it made me able to function. I self-CBTed myself.

It was killing me with the strain on my physical body, and it was killing me in the sense that, when you spend your life ignoring one emotion, you begin to question them all, even when your logical mind knows that your other emotions are right on the money.

My prescriber wanted me to know my options, and I appreciate that, of course...and I know the uselessness of making declarations that speak to the entire rest of one's life. But I don't want to live like that anymore. Now that I know what relaxation feels like, I really get how bad the anxiety was and I don't want to live like that anymore, ever. I LIKE being able to relax and I like being able to trust my own emotions. I don't have to fight my SELF for emotional validation anymore.

I have no hesitation announcing that I would happily take the drugs for the rest of my life, as directed, if they will continue to give me those two precious things. I said to my prescriber, and it's true, that I do not ever remember a time in my life where I felt relaxed...I was always tense...even as a child. And I have always been very proactive about learning new things about myself. I got to 34 and almost all of the way through a grad degree without medications...but I had to work SO hard to fight my way past ADHD and anxiety to get here, and now I realize even MORE how hard. I don't want to fight that hard anymore. I'm a resourceful person, and I had gotten as far as I was ever going to get on my own with no medication, period. And I don't want to have to fight like that anymore, I just want to feel good, and not like I have to fight myself at every decision or situation from choosing a meal (which makes me VERY anxious) to taking the LSAT.

I could not totally fix this on my own, OR with a good therapist in my corner. That's not to say that I would just roll over and die if meds disappeared and were no longer an option. I would simply have to adjust, but it would not be easy, knowing what I know now.

I have never been happier to acknowledge my own limitations.

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