Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taking My Own Advice

When Dr. Jim was diagnosed, he became obsessed.  He woke early, he stayed up late. He read and researched and pondered and worried and thought about nothing else.

He could be distracted, but only momentarily.  His brain refused to think about anything else.  His psyche kept him in lock step.  The result was anxiety.

He was never present, in the moment, unless the moment was centered on the disease.  This became tiresome to his wife, and, ultimately, to himself.  Even so, he was stuck in the sludge.  He saw no way out.

That's the charm of anxiety, a close friend of PTSD.  They are gifts which keep on giving, tossing the victim into a tumbling stew for which there seems to be no ladle.

I offered a ladle, of sorts.  To this 68 year old who was on no medication at all, I suggested an anti-anxiety medication.  Ativan has been a close companion of mine for years; I was happy to share her with a friend.

He was surprised at me.  I presented such a strong face.  He had no idea that I'd needed that kind of help.

And so I explained to him what had been explained to me:  Rage, Anger, Fury, Sorrow, Fear... these are all things we can work with.  They have weight, potency, are packed with valuable insights and help is possible.

Anxiety just gets in the way.  It muddles the waters, or thickens the stew, to avoid mixing metaphors, even those separated by paragraphs.  It's useless.  It keeps you stuck.  There are times when you need to feel the pain; I took no pills when Daddoooooo and G'ma died.  But that was sorrow and loss and bone deep emptiness.  There was no anxious edginess involved.

Flying home, in the snow, with delays and a sore hip and a dead mother, I took an Ativan to ease the trip.  There was nothing I could so to remedy the situation.  It was what it was.  I could do something to remove the anxiety, though, after yogic breathing and a swift, pulse raising walk through the airport failed to move my endorphins.  We were just as delayed; I was more relaxed.

We think nothing of taking an aspirin for a headache or a strained muscle.  I'm not sure why there is such a stigma about taking a pill for a strained psyche.

8 comments:

  1. Having anxiety attacks from my mid-40s, I found a close relative of Ativan, Lorazepam from my doctor and it is still a friend of mine, surprisingly without increasing the dosage. I don't take it to feel relaxed. I take it to feel normal. Theoretically it should have lost effectiveness and gotten me into addiction but it hasn't so far and that's been over 25 years. I think we make too much of toughing it out. If something helps without damaging quality of life, then it's no different than for cholesterol or any physical need. I wouldn't want something that made me feel tranquil-- just normal works for me.

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    1. Lorazepam is the generic I take too, Rain. (I knew we were separated at birth!) Yes, I feel normal. It's relaxing not to be anxious, but I am not loopy. The worry and the knot in my gut are gone, and there are no side effects (at least for me).

      Mental Health is my focus for this year. I'm trying to clear away the mysteries and open the subject for discussion. As you say, no one would question your medication for cholesterol.
      a/b

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  2. I have frozen-gut syndrome. the doctor believes it's caused by anxiety. She has given me the most wonderful little pill, (Metoclopram) the only one of its class okayed for the US, that I can take any time I know I will be in anxious situations. I need not take it daily, nor does it hurt me to take it here and there. It's made my life and my gut better.

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    1. Isn't that wonderful?!?!?! Why should you suffer because "it's all in your head"???
      a/b

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  3. I have not been given more than I can handle without medication. So far. I am fortunate.

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    1. Yes, you are. I hope it helps to know that there is medication, should you need it. I'm trying to do away with stigma, so I'm opening myself up out here.
      a/b

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  4. This is something I know a fair amount about, as you know. I am bipolar. There was a time that just to admit such a thing would have been the stuff of social stigma and isolation. We have come a long way, but we have a long way yet to go. Mental illnesses are still not fully understood, but the same can be said for cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, Crohn's Disease, or dozens of others. For all the other diseases we leap at the chance to try the newest promising treatment. We are doing the same, thankfully, to provide relief from mental illnesses. New drug therapies are being introduced all the time that are showing great promise. Receiving support from family, friends, and the community in terms of understanding conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, etc. without stigma is crucial.

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    1. You handle it beautifully, SC <3 The stigma is still such a problem...
      a/b

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