Anxiety: When The Techniques Are Not Enough

Brandy

Sometimes relaxation techniques are not enough to get you through an anxiety attack.

Sometimes meditation is not for you.

Sometimes soothing music just does not calm you down.

If you have tried everything you can think of to help lessen your anxiety, maybe it is time to seek alternatives.

Someone reached out to me for help the other day via social media. They are struggling to cope with their anxiety. I tried my best to provide options for them and I hope they consider what I had to say.

After my mom passed away I began seeing a mental health counselor. I also started to attend Al-Anon meetings. If you have not heard about Al-Anon it is a great support group for family and friends of people struggling with addictions. Combined, these two supports really helped get me through a very difficult time in my life.

But the tough times were only just beginning. Life had another hill for me to climb.

Anxiety.

Now, I believe I have always suffered from anxiety. (Just ask my school friends and they can tell you how anxious I used to get before tests and exams.) I just never knew what it was until someone told me that was what I was suffering from.

Then my first big bout of anxiety hit. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I could barely function. I do not know how I was able to drive myself to and from work which was a half hour away in the next town. I sat at my desk shaking and experiencing electric shocks throughout my entire body. I went for two weeks without eating a thing. Food revolted me. I could not even watch one of my favourite channels, The Food Network.

But my family and friends were right by my side to help me through it all. My employer and co-workers suggested and supported a decision to go on stress leave for a few weeks. And my counselor at the time offered a different solution to my dilemma, medication.

Prescription Medication Anxiety

At the time I was against taking medication. I am just like my father and I dislike taking medicine of any kind. Even for a headache. (Plus, I have trouble swallowing pills in the first place.)

My counselor was aware of how I felt about taking medication. I had indicated to her throughout the couple years I had been seeing her that I did not want to go on medication. I told her that I had seen my own mother on various types of medications and how my mom had abused her medicine. I also saw the side affects of many medicines. Since addiction played a big part in our family history, I was scared that I would become too dependent on the medication to help me through.

But my counselor raised a good point that I have not forgotten. She said because I am aware of what has happened in my past, I carry that awareness into my present and future. I am fully aware that medication can be addicting and that there is chance for abuse considering what has happened in the past with my family. However, because of that awareness, I know how to be careful and can make plans to ensure that that will not happen to me.

When combined with other therapies, medication can provide that extra hand you may need to just get you through for as long as you need.

I found that once my medication started working I was able to take better care of myself and could focus on learning other techniques used for coping with anxiety (such as CBT, relaxation techniques, etc.).

When I was first prescribed meds I started on the lowest dosage and we worked up to a dosage that provided the most relief. I was also provided with options as to what type of medication I would like to try. You need to research all of your options. Look at medications that have the least side effects (and there will be a few so expect them). Search for medications that have the least likelihood of addiction. And if you are prescribed medication that can be addictive, do something similar to what I did. I was prescribed two meds at first. One was for what I call long term relief (pills I would take everyday) and another was a short term solution (one that could be taken if was experiencing an attack that would calm me in about 30 minutes time). I handed my short term medicine to someone I could trust and told them to hide it from me. The stipulation was that he/she would only bring out that medication when it was absolutely necessary. This may not work for all but it is what worked for me. I found that if I did not see it but knew it was available, I felt safe.

Medication does not have to be a long term solution either. Some of us may have to be on medication for the rest of our lives. Some of us do not have to be. Many have succeeded in weaning off. I did once. Before we conceived our first child I successfully weaned off of my medication. And I was just fine. Actually, I never felt better in my life (but maybe pregnancy played a hand in that). One of the reasons I had to go back on was because we ended up having an unwelcome visitor in our “new to us” home, a sneaky little mouse, and I became paranoid another was going to join him. With a two month old I figured that for the sake of my health, sanity and my newborn it was probably best to go back on my meds.

If you want to stop taking your medication be sure to do so under the supervision of a health professional. You do not just stop taking your medication all at once. There is a method to follow.

Taking medication is not for everyone. I know that.

But taking medication does not mean you are conceding.

It does not make you weak.

If the extra help is available, why not take it?

I know it has made a world of difference in my life.

I will not be on this medication for the rest of my life. I know I can stop when I feel strong enough. And hopefully that day will come soon.


Disclaimer – I am not a healthy professional and nor do I claim to be. The opinions stated above are my own. Please seek professional help from your current health provider whether it be your family doctor, a naturopathic doctor, etc.


Author:
Brandy Reid is a stay at home mom to two very active and hockey obsessed boys. As a former YA librarian, Brandy loves to read and is obsessed with reading everyday whether it be books or blogs. Brandy proudly admits that she is a wee bit addicted to social media, especially Twitter. She also believes that everything in life you can related to the iconic TV Show Friends. No day is complete without chocolate.

26 Comments

  1. S. Alison Beck
    October 23, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Well said; from a fellow anxiety sufferer.

    • Brandy
      October 23, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Thank you so much Alison. It was a difficult post to publish.

  2. Stacey
    October 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Hi Brandy….thanks for posting. This topic is never far from my mind either…the more I learn about it, the more I realize that it affects a lot of people. When I was first digesting a diagnosis of anxiety, I felt almost ashamed…but the more I talk about it, the more I realize that it’s more common than we think. Kudos to you for writing about it :-)

    • Brandy
      October 23, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      It is amazing how things have changed since my mom dealt with it until the time I was diagnosed. When I told people what I was suffering there was instant connections made and people shared their own story of struggling with mental illness. It’s great that people are openly talking about it. Back when my mom had it, it was so hush hush.

  3. Alisia
    October 23, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Great post Brandy as always – taking medication for Anxiety for the first time is always the hardest. I appreciate your openess on the topic, as a fellow anxiety ridden lady, who has taken the “medication leap” twice now, I find exactly what you say – it slows my reactions down, so I can put into place the other coping techniques.

    • Brandy
      October 23, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      Thank you so much Alisia for reading and sharing your own personal story. We are in this together!

  4. JEn
    October 23, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Great post! I love how it came from the heart. My story is similar but instead of anxiety, my struggle is depression.

  5. Lori N
    October 23, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Good on you for have the guts to post this Brandy. I am proud to call you my friend. It is brave people like you who open up the dialogue and let other sufferers know 1) they are not alone and 2) there doesn’t have to be only darkness.
    I shared this with my brother who is struggling with having to use meds to deal with his depression. Thank you it means way more coming from someone who “knows and gets it”.

    • Brandy
      October 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Thank you so much Lori! I am so glad to have met you and have you in my life. I know how difficult the decision to go on meds is. It’s not something you decide lightly, or at least I did not. But if they are there to help, why not at least try. They could make a world of difference.

  6. Stephanie
    October 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    I had terrible depression after my son was born. I tried to struggle through it for so long before finally conceding that I needed medication. It was the best thing I could have done for my life and my son’s life. Why is ponderous to me know is that if I had been diagnosed with anything else I would have immediately gotten the prescription filled.

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      I am glad to hear you are doing so much better today. Thank you for sharing your story here with me.

  7. Dawn
    October 25, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Great post Brandy, so open and honest :) Thank you for sharing your story, I am sure you are helping people realize they are not the only one to suffer anxiety. I had when I was younger, I seem to have out grown it, thankfully.

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      If I can help just one person, then my job is done. I hope people realize that they aren’t alone.

  8. Kathleen
    October 25, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    You make a great point. So many people are so busy adamantly refusing any medicating, they don’t stop to think it might be the right way to go. I don’t think everyone with anxiety needs medication but like you said, sometimes you need something to make life more manageable so you CAN learn and practice other techniques. This goes for depression too. I have medication that I take as needed, it goes under my tongue and dissolves which is great for people like you who have trouble swallowing pills. (I couldn’t do it till I was 16!)

    • Brandy
      October 30, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Those dissolvable pills are awesome. I have used a few over the years.

      And I am not saying that everyone should go on meds. I just wanted people to remember that it could be a just for now option until other techniques are learned.

  9. Jenna Em
    October 28, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    This is a very informative piece for those who do not suffer from anxiety. I think that many people have a hard time getting their heads around an illness that cannot be “seen”. This helps put it into perspective.

  10. Jordana
    November 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    So brave of you to share and so so relatable. Be proud of yourself for doing what’s best for you!

  11. Michele Carlon MD
    January 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    As a primary care specialist and depression sufferer, I can relate.
    The medications allow one to feel well enough to concentrate more and absorb the techniques better. Studies show that people who take the medications and THEN do Cognitive Behavioral therapy, are more successful at getting off and staying off the medications long term.

    • Brandy
      January 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my post. It was a tough one to write but I hope it can help those who need it.

  12. AlwaysARedhead
    January 28, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Middle child suffered (suffers) from depression and for the longest time fought against taking medication because then she had to admit something was wrong and no matter how much she wanted me, her mother to help her, I couldn’t. When she finally agreed to medication, healing began. I’m sure it may be a lifelong battle for her, but she took the first step, accepting that there is no shame in needing help. I’m glad that you sought and accepted help Brandy.

    • Brandy
      January 30, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      I am so glad to hear that she is on her way to healing. Mental illness is no laughing matter. And some people still think we can just “snap out of it.” So not true. There is a lot of work involved.

  13. MultiTestingMom
    MultiTestingMomReply
    January 28, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It really helps when people talk about mental health problems – it makes us all feel more comfortable talking about it! I have anxiety too – it is tough!

    • Brandy
      February 25, 2015 at 10:13 PM

      It is really tough and the stigma of mental illness needs to end. Thank you for reading my post. :)

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