My Quest for Happiness
Even though this blog is still pretty new, it isn’t really a new thought. I have been thinking and trying to get started with Sparkley Ass Bitch for almost two years now. Now that I am going, it seems crazy that it took me so long just to START. I always worried about the perfect launch and the ideal design, and while I would like to blame my procrastination on fear, there was something much more sinister holding me back. Not just holding me back, choking me by the neck. For the last three years, I have pretty much lived in a constant anxiety attack.
Every day, without fail, I would wake up and already be anxious. It was like walking around with weights shackled to my ankles. Some days I could get going but would fall flat by the afternoon. Other days I wouldn’t even get as far as getting out of bed. Then, the motherload hit - my dad died. After that happened my anxiety only got worse. My dad was always the voice of reason, especially being that he suffered from the same anxiety as I did though he was better at powering through. The things that triggered an attack could be somewhat avoided, if not at least lessened, with a quick phone call to my dad who always could talk me through and distract me from whatever was causing me anxiety. He was always the best at answering his phone or calling back immediately, almost to a fault. Now, I don’t have that luxury, and it has been hard. It has been worse than hard. Aside from the emotional pain of losing my dad, I've been carrying the exhaustion from a three-year anxiety attack that was going untreated, ignored and was reaching a point of festering that it felt like it was right below my skin. Gone were the days of actually being productive and for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was going crazy and I still think I was even though my kind doctor would never flat out say that.
A few months after my dad passing, I took on a brand new trigger that manifested itself in a way I would never think could alter my mind so much. I started to obsess over my own death. When it would hit, what would it be, would it be a car accident? Should I stop driving now? I felt as if I was going to die soon, so I stayed in bed. All day. Every day. It used to be with an anxiety attack it was unmotivating, but now it had reached a new height, I was paralyzed. I wasn’t that I didn’t want to get something done, I was so preoccupied but this self-induced notion that I was going to die soon that I forgot to get anything done. I had blinders on, and the only thing I could see was death. Then it started to seep into my surroundings. My dog is old, is he going to die soon? My mom didn’t answer her phone for a day, why isn’t she answering her phone? I became so obsessed deaths presence in my life it consumed me and invaded every possible form of consciousness I could conjure. I started dreaming about it which only made things worse because I was spiraling so far down this dark hole I began to think maybe I was psychic and was seeing my death take place shortly.
That's right. I whipped myself up into such a frenzy I thought I was psychic.
Not only was all of this happening I couldn't verbalize it because whenever I tried, I choked. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk about it but I knew how it sounded and it didn’t sound good. In one of my broken efforts to try to convey what I was going through, my dear friend Kira at GoodLuxeVintage finally offered some honest advice and questioning. “Have you looked into antidepressants?” Not for depression, but for anxiety. I always wanted to stay away from anything prescription based, but I finally reached a point of desperation (or maybe even rock bottom) I was willing to try anything. I called my doctors office and broke down sobbing while explaining why I wanted an appointment (thankfully the operator on the phone was the sweetest and helped me immediately). Flash forward to a week later and tiptoeing around my anxiety. The nurse gave me a written test to try to evaluate my anxiety and put a numeral score on it, so I could get a better understanding of where I was mentally from more of a visual standpoint (at least that is how I interpreted it). After filling out the sheet, the doctor came back in and talked with me awhile. I explained how I had handled my anxiety before my dad and how it had been after. I even told him about my newest trigger with death and how it was impacting me, and I was able to do all of this with minimal tears (though obvious emotion and frustration were present). Then came the scores! Apparently, on this scale, a 10 was the indicating score for anxiety, and I was at a 19. We both decided it would be worth it to try a low (the lowest) dose of sertraline, otherwise known as Zoloft, and some much-needed therapy. While my doctor wrote up the notes from the appointment, he kindly turned and reassured me that I wasn’t going to die soon and I just had anxiety attacks. I will admit to thinking “what do you know? I could walk out that door and get hit by a car.” Real healthy and open.
I talked to my therapist friends and my partner, and we all agreed that antidepressants have the potential to be scary, but as long as I was open about it with my doctors and Grant, it was worth a shot.
A couple of days after being on the medicine I woke up with the nagging sensation that something was missing. Everything felt airy and clear. I couldn't put my finger on it, and then it hit me. For the first time in years, I woke up without feeling anxiety. It was my first day that I could remember that didn't start immediately with a panic attack. In fact, it came later in the day, about the afternoon. About a week after that the small, mid-afternoon anxiety attacks melted away too.
Anti-depressants changed my life. They didn’t make me happier, but they changed my life. The feeling of being weighted by anxiety has been gone since I started my low doses and when I get up in the morning, I can get work done. I can see the goals I want to accomplish and can take steps to do it. I can do ANYTHING now because I'm not afraid and anxious. Don’t get me wrong, this medicine hasn’t and will never fix all my problems, and I don’t put that pressure on it. What it has done however is given me the ability to get up and out of bed fearless. When I do that, I can do yoga every day. After that, I can go for a walk. When I get home, I'll take a shower and get to work on whatever I need to accomplish that day. I don’t look at my use of anti-depressants as the ability to be happy but an aide to take steps to be happy. I hope that one day I won’t need this crutch, but for the first time in years, I feel like I can see a path in my quest for happiness that actually will lead me towards a fruitful discovery.