Full Disclosure

I decided it was time to just let you all know, before I continue to explore the stigma that accompanies mental health diseases, that it is many years past my first experience with an anxiety episode, and I am doing quite well.  Almost twenty to be exact.  After getting myself on the right track (with the help of professionals and friends), I had 16 years symptom free, handling many difficult situations without so much as a blip. (In the interest of full disclosure, during this time period I was taking an anti-anxiety drug every day, and it was working.)  Then I ran headlong into a speed bump, which caused a second episode of the anxiety to rear its head.  I was absolutely shocked to be going through the same drill all over again.  However, I knew where to go for help, and did so quickly.  The necessary work to get strong again is still hard, and I have been working hard to get through this blip as fast as possible,  and I am working on getting stronger every day.  NO – I am stronger every day.  One unexpected issue that has resulted from this go-round is the recalibration of the correct dosage of medicine that will work for me at this point in my life, the need for which initially upset me.  I looked at this situation as though the failure of my original dosage to no longer work reflected negatively on me.  But I came to understand that my medicine is no different than other medicines given for any number of chronic issues.  Those medicines have to be recalibrated quite often.  I got 16 years out of mine.  That’s a pretty good stat.

The stigma that I felt about my disorder kept me from trying good old fashioned western medication for three years.  I get a little annoyed now when I realize how much time I used up being stubborn and scared of stigma.  I am more comfortable with the words “anxiety disorder” and “mental health issues,” and I have come to accept this disorder in part as a chemical imbalance that causes an anxiety disorder, and I need meds to help me, just like a diabetic needs insulin or someone with high cholesterol needs a statin.  I am not a crazy lady.  In fact, I am quite the opposite.  I am happy with my life and all it brings to my table.

One thing that I have come to understand is that overcoming an anxiety disorder is a lifetime commitment.  I am doing well now, and I do not want to take that for granted.  It is constant work, each and every day.  Each day I say a prayer that I am well today, that I am strong today, that I am productive today, and that there are medications that can help me today.  I am grateful for every day that my prayer is answered.


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