I wanted to hop on here and update everyone about my mental healthcare.
I truly believe that being open about this stuff helps us all. It helps me stay in tune with the treatment I want and any changes that I may need, and I think it helps those who are ready to get treatment but aren’t sure what to expect.
I know for me, I was VERY hesitant to get conventional therapy. One reason was the feeling that I had failed at keeping myself healthy and that going to therapy and/or taking medication was admitting defeat. The other reason was that in my highly anxious (previously my NATURAL state day to day, let’s be honest) I was fearful of medication and the possible side effects. I was also scared that if I took something I would cease being Amanda, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that idea.
I have to say, those first 4-6 weeks, I was noticing every little thing, and probably psyching myself out, so to speak. Now, I did have some tough days when I first started my meds. I will tell you now what I’m taking, only to give some insight, but PLEASE TALK TO YOUR THERAPIST AND DOCTOR OR MEDS MANAGER BEFORE YOU CHOOSE A DRUG, we are all chemically and energetically different and what works for me may not work for you.
I am on a 10mg once daily dose of Lexapro. It is a very mild anti depressant/anti anxiety medication. I have been on this for five months now, so I can look back and give you some insight as to how it has helped me.
The very first month I was on medication, I noticed that I had fewer migraine headaches. Prior to this I was having them at least once a week, sometimes more. And these were not just ‘bad headaches’, they were sending me to bed in tears, and stealing so much time from my life. I still will get them if the air pressure changes rapidly, for example when a storm front is moving through, but I absolutely have none related to my stress level. Thank God.
Also, my PMS symptoms have diminished greatly, as has the pain I used to experience the first two days of my cycle. I also bleed much less than I used to.
I had no idea that my anxiety level was affecting me directly with all the physical pain I used to experience, but the only changes I had made those few months ago were therapy and medication. So I am thankful to be in a less painful place now.
Physically speaking, I am also less lethargic (unless I am in a depressive episode, which still happens sometimes, I will get to that in a bit.) and I have more physical and mental energy to LIVE my life. I am making more art, and not wasting every day I have off work sleeping and hiding in my bed.
Emotionally, I have seen a drastic change in how I handle my anxiety. The first couple of months I was on Lexapro, I had a couple of panic attacks, at the grocery store of all places, and was worried that I’d made a mistake in getting medicated. But after talking with my therapist, we pinpointed the events that triggered that high anxiety and figured out what was going on. I’ve had no panic attacks since then.
I have come close, but I was able to breathe and talk myself through it. Which brings me to some of the bigger changes I have made lately.
One, I am practicing morning prayer and journaling every day. (I miss a day here and there, but I try!). I am doing yoga most days as well, at my home. No classes yet.
I am doing breathwork each day and in the moment when I need to calm myself.
I am working on learning new things, and working on growing myself spiritually. It’s something I was missing when I was too depressed to make the effort.
I am taking responsibility for my own life choices, I am walking in forgiveness for anyone and everyone that has hurt me, and that alone has been so freeing and opened my heart to give and receive more joy and peace than anything else. I was never a victim, but my anxious brain was in the habit of throwing intrusive thoughts at me, over things in the past that really hurt me. I’ve since learned to let it all go, and if a thought tries to break in, I know how to talk to it now, and let it pass without rolling it over and over in my mind and letting it bring up hurtful emotions that I frankly do not have time for.
Meditation and prayer have helped me have a positive and encouraging spirit, which is a huge piece of the puzzle for my past mental anguish.
In this new mindset of militant optimism (I have alway been a Pollyanna, but now its to the 1,000th degree, haha) I have had no more suicidal thoughts, my depressive episodes are shorter, and not nearly as dark or as deep as before.
I am re-evaluating how I eat now as well, and am eating cleaner. I still have some work to do here, but I’m getting there.
I have decided to stay on Lexapro for at least 7 more months. My medication manager said she would like to see me feeling better for about a year, to give my brain the chance to learn the right way to function, before I get off of my meds. So I am trusting her judgement, even though I feel really good right now. Plus we have some big life changes coming up in the next few months (all good) but I think my anxious baby brain will do better navigating those while I am still on medicine.
So that is the long and short of it.
If you are on the fence about getting therapy, or starting medication, talk to your doctor, and ask a million questions. ( I did, annoyingly so. I said no to three other drugs before settling on the one I take now.)
Take charge of your own well being, be open to solutions you may have been closed off to before. Most of all, love yourself enough to get the help you need.
YOU ARE WORTH THE WORK TO GET WELL.