Happy Wednesday to you all! I hope everyone had a great day!
I mentioned in my previous blog about sharing some of my experiences that helped me get to a better, more stable place mentally, emotionally, and physically. So in this blog, I’d like to spend time immediately talking about one of these experiences: ANXIETY.
Ever since beginning graduate school in August 2011, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced consistently was, and still is, anxiety. To be more specific, anxiety was brought on in a few different ways: a) interacting with my professors and supervisors, b) knowing that I was being observed, and watched over via a video camera, by my supervisors while I conducted therapy sessions with my clients, and c) when I had an insane amount of schoolwork to do, all of which had to be done within a rather short time frame. All these situations usually occurred simultaneously, which made me completely batty. I felt like everything was spinning out of control. My heart would beat fast. My breathing would feel short. My mind would keep racing. My shoulders and facial muscles would feel immensely tense. It was nightmarish and it sucked.
What worse, as all the aforementioned symptoms were occurring, I would be trying to have conversations with either a supervisor, or professor, or classmate and whatever they’d be saying to me would fly over my head. The result would be me missing important information, such as important tips or facts that I’d have to remember for the immediate future. This happened on way too many occasions. It was beyond frustrating. My colleagues would probably think, “Man, this guy is an idiot! What’s wrong with him?” Well, it’s not the fact that I’m an idiot because I know very well that I’m not. It’s the fact that anxiety caused me to focus too much on how I was feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally and not on the people that are talking to me.
I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating this was. I was beginning to think a lot of negative thoughts about myself. Maybe I am an idiot. Maybe I am abnormal for having this much anxiety when doing something. How come other people don’t have these issues, and if they do, how are they handling it so well? Moreover, I did not have this kind of problem before I entered graduate school, and if I did, it certainly wasn’t this severe.
I was thinking that it was something that would just go away on its own and that I’d find a way to manage it constructively. The more time went on, the more I felt the physical symptoms take over, and the more I missed information that people were telling me. It even boiled over outside of school and into my personal life where I would be feeling the same way when talking with my friends.
I spent the next three-plus years battling this anxiety issue. It wasn’t until October 2014 that I finally decided to deal with my anxiety another way. I had spoken to a very trust-worthy friend about my problems. This person has been taking anxiety medication for a number of years, and what better person to speak to than he. He gave me valuable information about medication, and afterward I did a lot of research on it. My biggest concern was that I was going to be addicted to the medication and that I wouldn’t be able to kick the habit. I didn’t want to end up being the guy who is addicted and reliant on pills to function every day. I just needed something to take the edge off, something that would last me until I finished graduate school, and something that could relax me during horrible anxious moments.
I took my questions and concerns to the nurse practitioner on my college campus. After about an hour’s worth of consultation, he alleviated my concerns and said that there are medications in which you don’t have to worry about being addicted to. Consequently, he provided me with a prescription of 0.5 mg of Xanax.
A couple of days later, I took my first Xanax pill. The nurse practitioner told me that the effects of it would take about 20-30 minutes after taking it. I took it about 30 minutes before I conducted therapy with my client. After about 15 minutes, I felt very mellow, very calm, and very happy. Nothing was spinning out of control. My heart rate was reduced. My breathing was normal. My mind stopped racing. My shoulders and facials muscles were relaxed. It was a fantastic feeling. Additionally, I was able to retain information from my professors, supervisors, and classmates. Nothing went over my head. I would be able to hold a conversation with them without feeling rushed. I felt like everything was going in slow motion and I was able to keep up with everything and everyone. Also, I didn’t have much anxiety when it came to taking exams. Not that I had bad anxiety before exams, but it helped me focus more when writing in answers.
To this day, I still take Xanax. I don’t find anything wrong with it either. I don’t take it every day, like I originally feared. Instead, I take it when I have to take it. My nurse practitioner advised me to not let everyone know that I take it for fear of people casting judgment on me. That is true, as I have told only a select few people about this. But I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of really. I mean, who cares what other people’s judgments are? But I wanted to share this on my blog, especially to people who have had anxiety issues just like me. As time has gone on, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who has anxiety issues and that I’m not the only one who takes medication for it. Hey, some people might need it while others don’t, and that’s fine. Everyone is different.
I encourage anyone that has anxiety issues to the point where it affects your daily functioning to seek help for it, whether if it’s medication or seeing a psychologist or whatever else there is. Anxiety can be VERY debilitating, and no one needs to suffer with it. To not do something about it is foolish and will only hinder you further. I also encourage anyone to share their experiences as well regarding this blog. I’d love to hear other’s perspectives about anxiety and how they’ve dealt with it.
So that’s my story… next time, I will share another experience that I’ve struggled with: FEAR. Lots to talk about regarding this topic. Until then, stay classy WordPress peeps! :o)