This morning I read an article entitled “How I Treated My Panic Attacks and Anxiety– Without Pills”. Being that I’m currently weaning off of my medication, I was curious to see what wisdom this nervous sage could bestow upon me. Unfortunately the 552 word article was basically a tale of “I had two big panic attacks over the course of several months. I fought the stigma and sought therapy. I don’t want to be on pills, so I eat clean and exercise rigorously.
Okay… and…? Wait, what? That was it?! Right…
I couldn’t help but feel a little sour towards this author who suffered all of two panic attacks and suddenly found the light and feels he’s qualified to give half-cocked advice at $10/article. I didn’t consider medication when I could count the number of panic attacks I had in a year on one hand, either. I did my best to eat a balanced diet, and made it to the gym or through my workouts about 80% of the time. Sure, it helped– then. When I started Lamictal in Janurary, I was having 2 to 5 panic attacks a week!
Now, 7 months later, it isn’t doing much of anything, except riddle me with side effects, most of which were symptoms I was trying to treat! So this past Friday I decided to have an eval. to discuss discontinuing my medication. I explained to my psychiatrist’s nurse that I was actively learning ways to grow more in tune and aware of my body- mentally, physically, and emotionally, and felt that I would be most comfortable managing my symptoms naturally. She told me that I seemed to be doing so well on the Lamictal, adding that, “while it’s not a guarantee, it does work very well in preventing a relapse into depression” and warned me that coming off of the medication could cause me to become more anxious. “If you don’t feel that it’s working for you, we can always increase your dose.”
Normally I would have folded. I would have nodded, thanked her, and left with my tail between my legs. But I was done with that. I was already depressed and anxious! This is my body and it’s my fucking choice, I told myself. And finally, I listened. I told the nurse I was going to be off the medication completely before my appointment with Dr. Z in a month’s time
or else. She suggested different dose decrease schedules that all left me on the medication to some extent, so that I could talk to the psychiatrist and have him “re-evaluate” whether this was the right choice. I told her that this was my choice, therefore it was the right one.
I don’t know why the better part of this week has been the best handful of days I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know how long it will last. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have an answer as to how to treat anxiety (or depression, or bipolar) without medication. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Because it doesn’t just depend on the person– it depends on the day. Some days it’s eating an entire batch of polvorones. Some days it’s helping build a deck in a thunderstorm during a tornado watch. Some days it’s learning how to change the brakes on your car. Some days it’s just curling up with a good book. It’s a lot of exploring new things- of doing something each day that scares you, but making sure to build a safe place both inside and around you.
Because this isn’t just recovery. This is your life. And it’s yours to take control of.
*What the fuck, this post had nothing to do with boobs?! Well actually, the other day Brandon tripped over a bra I’d left lying on the floor. I shouted “Oh shit! Oh shit! It’s a booby trap!” and proceeded to giggle hysterically for the entire time it took to share it on Facebook. The comments started coming in, all of which praising him for his cleverness. No, you fuckers! I said it was a booby trap! How dare you take away my boob joke, I scolded. The general consensus remained that “All your boobs are belong to him”. But fuck that. They’re my boobs, and I’m taking them back. Just like my life. Full circle. Boom.