I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication now for a couple years. Reticent at first, like any good anxious person about whether or not this was going to have more negative side effects than positive ones and traumatized from a brief stint with a very wrong anti-anxiety medication years ago (note: you literally have no idea which one is going to make you crazier or crazy…less). Not to mention the societal and social stigmas that come along with being a person who is “medicated for their mental illness.”
I am diligent about my meds, daily alarm, don’t go anywhere without them, make sure I eat enough so it won’t upset my stomach, carry around a small little pillbox with labeled days of the week, and ensure I’ve got them all perfectly portioned out. In this time, I have yet to miss a dose of this tiny little pill that has (along with therapy, self-care, a mindfulness practice, healthy relationships, etc.) quite literally changed my life (and my incessant gastrointestinal distress).
My alarm went off, and in my recovering from a nasty cold haze, time went by and meetings happened, and errands, and dog-mom duties and 4:30 pm rolled around and the notification was still on my phone.
Did I take it this morning?
Did I forget to remove the notification on my phone?
I really don’t remember taking them but it’s so automatic now, maybe…I did?
Do I take one now that I’ve remembered?
What if I took double my dosage?
What if I miss today?
And so on and so forth, I ultimately decide to forgo the potentially additional pill and just hope that I have enough in my body to sustain me in case I did, in fact, skip a dose, and because I’m anxious at the thought of overdosing an anti-anxiety medication (irony!).
I’m here to tell you – I definitely missed a dose. How do I know?
Because the roar of that mighty anxiety monster who needs the kitchen sick thrown at it to keep it contained in its cage, threw its head back tonight and went full MGM studios in my brain.
In fact, I started to catastrophize that I will never get over my head/chest cold and I’ll be stuck in a never ending cycle of being sick week after week. I began to spiral with possible solutions or obstacles that may arise in the next 24 hours about the most mundane things. I started to relive, replay, re-evaluate conversations that in the moment felt completely sane — and in the cold night of a missed dosage have twisted into a lot of “I can’t believe I said that.” I have questioned my every move today, my every breath, my every word. I have created a list of to-do’s for the next 24 hours that will give your latest CVS pharmacy receipt a run for its money. And also, impossible to accomplish.
I am, in fact, so wired and so amped up that “calm” doesn’t feel like a word I’ve ever heard before. I mean really, what does that even mean?! Everything is heightened, everything is grating, everything is making me crawl out of my skin, everything feels like it’s coming at me.
And though I know that this is temporary and I’ll be back to my anxiety-managed self in a few short hours, I am reminded so vividly what my life was like before this better living through chemistry. And even so, this moment is so much less extreme than where I started.
My doctor told me before getting on anti-anxiety meds: “Of course, you’re anxious about taking medication, you have anxiety.”
Because that IS the thing about anxiety — it can (and will) permeate everything.
So, PSA for all my lovely anxiety compatriots — take your meds and go to therapy. And for goodness sake – pay attention to your “time to take your meds” reminders!