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Anxiety Part II: The Stigma

Written by: Jenny

Not too long ago, I shared about my daily, nearly lifelong battle with anxiety here on sheKC. Click here to read, if you missed it.

I was completely blown away by how many of you read it, shared it, messaged me about it, related to it. I always knew I wasn't totally alone in my struggle. But, I can't quite tell you how comforted I felt knowing that a) you didn't think I was crazy b) you didn't judge and c) you were brave enough to discuss it. 

Anxiety has a stigma attached to it. I feel we've come a long way with depression (we still have a long way to go), but I do think progress has been made. People are talking about it more and more, bringing awareness and getting help.

Anxiety, in my opinion, needs that same kind of attention.

I'll use myself as an example. I am healthy, I have a career (or two), I am a wife and mother. I get up and live every single day.

That's what people see.

Here's what people don't see. 

I wake up every morning feeling like someone has used defibrillators to get my heart started... literally going from a nice, even, steady pace as I slept to overdrive, racing 100 miles per minute. That makes my hands sweat. That makes my head spin. That makes me unable to breathe correctly. That makes me feel like if I put my feet on the floor, I'll just fall right down to the ground. That makes my head spin with crazy thoughts. What if I faint? What if I just die right here on the spot? What if... what if... what if...

Some days, once I'm up and moving around, it fizzles out and I am able to go about my routine relatively unaffected. Some days, it is like a wicked curse that just goes around and around, giving me a 'detached feeling' and leaving me completely unable to focus.

I carry an anti-anxiety drug in my purse. I rarely take it. I try to 'handle' it without medication. Sometimes, I don't have a choice. I so rarely take the medication that it often expires with nearly a full bottle remaining. When that happens, I get anxious because I fear not having it on-hand in an emergency situation.

This scenario happened to me last week. 

I called the pharmacy first to see if I could get a refill, it required authorization. I knew that. They tried to get it approved. It was rejected. The sweet girl from CVS apologized. It wasn't her fault.

Five minutes later, a nurse from my doctor's office called me. She was abrupt and unpleasant from the moment I answered. Very accusatory. Very suspicious. Look, I'm no dummy or stranger to addiction (my brother died of a drug overdose just a few years ago). I get it. I know there are people out there with motives. I am not one of them. This woman thought I was up to no good asking for a refill without coming in for an appointment first.

I tried to explain to her in my most professional voice, one that I felt I really had to exaggerate to assure her that I wasn't looking for a 'fix' of any kind, that I hardly ever even take the stupid pills, I just take comfort in having them. (Is that so wrong? Please lady, understand where I'm coming from. You're giving me anxiety by having to defend my anxiety! Here we go again.)

Bottom line, she informed me I wasn't getting a refill of my lowest-dosage-humanly-possible anti-anxiety meds without a check-up. I made an appointment. Not a big deal. A physical isn't a horrible idea, anyway.

My point in telling this story isn't just to gripe. Just to share some of the difficulties of having this disorder that doesn't really look as ugly as it feels sometimes. 

It's the same way I feel when I tell my husband my anxiety woes. I love him with every ounce of my heart, but oh my gosh, he has NO idea about anxiety. He just doesn't get it. In fact, anyone who is lucky enough to have never had a run-in with this devil has no clue. I probably wouldn't understand it either if it wasn't lurking around in the corner of my mind every single solitary day.

I have periods of time (sometimes sort of long stretches!) where I'm ok. But, there are times when it is constant and completely annoying with no end in sight. That was me for the last two weeks. However, yesterday morning? I woke up feeling 'normal'. Today? Another great day. 

No rhyme or reason.

I am going to keep this conversation going. I would love for all of us dealing with anxiety to keep the conversation going! Again, depression is talked about. Many, many times it goes hand-in-hand with anxiety. But, in some cases - it stands alone. That's how it is for me, anyway.

I hope for a society that starts to understand that sometimes it IS situational. Sometimes? It's not. I believe for me, it's biological. Something in my chemical make-up that is just THERE. As I said in my last article -- a part of me. My least favorite part.





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