Anxious? Who me?

Anyone who knows me well will know that I battle with anxiety. I always have. I had trauma in my early years and then a chaotic childhood. Apparently this contributes a great deal to anxiety disorders. Over the years, I did much counselling and much healing but it was never enough to eradicate the anxiety and hyper-vigilance in my life. I have always been incredibily observant and I rarely ‘miss a beat.’ In fact, it is quite annoying to lots of people. I meticulously plan everything out and I rarely deviate from routines. I have knots in my shoulders and neck and I have even developed tendonitis as a result. I have always been able to manage my stress and anxiety with a small supply of ativan – not anymore.

Since my really bad bout with colitis, I have not been the same. My anxiety has escalated to the point where I am having muscle spasms, knots in my shoulders that can’t be removed and my jaw has been so sore because I keep it tensed. And then there is the fatigue – it has been so hard to work everyday with this level of stress and anxiety. Apparently chronic and serious illness also contributes to the development of an anxiety disorder.

Finally I went to my doctor a couple of weeks ago and she diagnosed a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She started me on medication. One medication for a short time to get me through until the other one kicks in. I am now on 3 meds for anxiety. The good news is I am steadily feeling better. They symptoms of stress and anxiety are slowly melting away and I have actually ‘missed a few beats.’ What has really surprised me is the actual physical manifestations of mental illness.

Now, some of you may wonder why I would blog about this. I believe there is no shame in mental illness. I will blog openly about it as I have about my colitis. The more of us who come out and say we have these illnesses the less power there is in the stigma. I really don’t care who knows and I will talk openly about it to whoever wants to hear. Maybe someone else will get treatment as a result.

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Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm  Comments (13)  

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  1. I work in a drug and alcohol detox and also worked for a number of years in a maximum security institution. What never ceased to amaze me is the number of people with addictions to illicit drugs and alcohol who would not take antidpressants or anti anxiety medication. It was usually shame-based because of the stigma mental health issues have. I address it with them this way both when I was a correctional officer and now as a healthcare worker… I ask them if they had diabetes or an ulcer, would they take medication for this? I explain that diabetes is the result of the body not producing enough insulin to control sugar levels in the blood. Then I would explain the chemicals of the brain and that sometimes those chemicals can also be out of balance and sometimes medication is needed to make sure those chemicals are where they are supposed to be and in the right amounts. I assured them that there was nothing wrong with taking care of themselves body and mind. More often than not they got it. It doesn’t mean they went on to take their meds properly or even at all, but I believe the seeds were planted.

    I too suffered from anxiety and was on medication for a number of years.

  2. Hurray for no shame! We should all be so open.

    I wonder if the anxiety and colitis are related? I know when I get IBS flare-ups it’s 95% stress and only 5% food.

    Anyways, I hope you get relief from the head and the stomach.

    • I don’t think the anxiety is linked to the colitis except that it is a very serious illness and I was very sick. Every time I am in pain it triggers the anxiety of being sick and (subconsciously) wondering if this is the beginning of the downward spiral.

      I also have IBS and it is definitely stress related.

      IBS and colitis are completely different things (except that they both hit the bowel). The pain is also completely different. I can almost always differentiate between them. Luckily, both don’t often strike at the same time.

  3. Thank you so much for your strong stance on reducing stigma! I’m so glad you wrote this post and appreciate your honesty. I am also very glad that you sought treatment – and that it appears to be working for you! Go you!

    • Thanks! There is so much crap around mental illness and I think it makes seeking treatment and getting better much more difficult.

  4. Thanks so much for talking about this. It is so important. I’m glad you are feeling better, and I hope your treatments make living life less painful. Life can be so enjoyable.

  5. I feel, from reading your blog, that I have gotten to know you a little. I am glad you post honestly. I love reading your blog and I commend your posts… all of them.
    I would be very proud to call you friend…
    *hugs*
    N

    • Thanks Nancy.

  6. I think mental health issues are really creeping out of the closet. More slowly in some circles, like any social change, but we’re getting there.

    People with mental health issues who are unafraid to talk about it are leading the way & their neighbours/friends/family/readers are following.

    I imagine the research on mental illness/drugs & then publicizing of it in news articles is helping people make the connection & realize that it’s a chemical issue.

  7. No shame at all. Good on you for being open!

    Are you getting some kind of desensitization treatment to go with the meds? A cognitive-behavioural approach? I’m amazed how many times I hear of people who aren’t getting therapy for problems like this.

  8. I have done signicant counselling in the past and now that I have the chemicals corrected all of my tools and techniques are working again. We are also doing some counselling for another issue and that is about all I can take at this point.

    Right now I need to come to terms with health issues being chronic and pain being an issue. My doc prescribed cymbalta which may have some effects for chronic pain. I just had 7 days of no pain but that may be due to the other temp med that I start weaning off of tomorrow. I am prepared for the pain to return as I know it will eventually anyway. It is a fact of my life. My doc has said we can re-assess the pain issues in a bit to see if there is more we can do – so in a bit of a holding pattern with that at the moment.

  9. I’m really curious to see how the Cymbalta works out for you. It’s such a new drug in Canada that it isn’t covered for me and it’s too expensive to pay out of pocket. I’d like to try it to see how it works for me, but it’ll be a while yet.

    • I will keep you posted. I feel better than I did when it just started and I was getting the zen from the clonazapam. I start to wean off of that tomorrow. I will let you know! I am not concerned about weaning off the clonazapam at all so I think the cymbalta is working well and fairly quickly as these things go.


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