Is This The ONLY Way To Get Rid Of Anxiety?

girl-with-anxiety

This is how I feel on a regular basis.Source: Shutterstock

Y’all know I have pretty bad anxiety. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, but in the past few years, my anxiety has continued to take over my life. I was really having trouble last fall but wasn’t doing much about it.

I kept making excuses not to see a therapist or to get help. Then I went through a terrible breakup that sent me over the edge. I’m going to be honest with you guys: I was in a really bad place. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was having panic attacks on the subway. I was afraid to leave my apartment. I needed help.

I’ve had success with therapy before, but I hadn’t found a therapist here. My mom found someone for me, and I started doing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with her in February. CBT is a method that focuses on being extremely aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They’re all connected so by doing CBT, you can change the way your thoughts, feelings and behaviors impact each other.

For example, if you feel sad, you might have a bad thought and that might cause you to stay in bed and be sad. By staying in bed and being sad, you’re reinforcing that behavior, which will keep you feeling sad and thinking bad thoughts. CBT helps you navigate out of that so if I feel sad, I recognize that I feel sad, think about why I feel that way and then do a behavior that will make me feel better instead of worse.

It sounds easy enough, but it takes a lot of work and patience. Nothing changes overnight, and for someone with anxiety, it’s very difficult to break out of certain ways of thinking and behaving. I’m someone who can’t turn my brain off so I get caught in things called “thinking traps.” Everyone does this, but people with anxiety can get stuck in a trap and spiral. Thinking traps can lead to panic attacks and can actually stop you from being productive in daily life.

I fall into a few thinking traps every single day. I ask myself ridiculous “What ifs,” convince myself that people are thinking bad things about me and worry constantly about things that I have no control over. I’ve been doing this for my entire life without realizing it, and I’m now working to reverse it. It’s really hard.

girl-holding-medications

There are basically a million different medications and combinations to battle anxiety, so it takes a lot of time to find one that is right for you.Source: Shutterstock

Recently, my therapist and I discussed going on medication. Even though I’m doing everything I need to and utilizing all of my tools, I can’t turn off my brain and get out of my head. I’m open to the idea because I know medicine can truly help people, but I’m terrified because a lot of my anxiety is related to medical issues. Logically, I know that most medications are safe for me. But in my head, I think every medication will kill me because I almost died from taking something before.

Medications for mental health issues are also pretty scary because it can take a while to find the right mix of medications that work for you. I’ve seen what can happen to people when they’re on the wrong medication, and I’m afraid of what could happen to me if I am on the wrong one. These medications literally alter the way your brain works.

I’m not sure I can handle the anxiety that I would have when actually taking a pill. I get migraines, and I don’t even like to take my migraine medication.

As a huge advocate for mental health awareness, it’s really difficult for me to sit here and tell people that it’s important to get help when I’m having trouble with it myself. I am doing well in therapy, but I’m still struggling on a daily basis to get a handle on my anxiety. Medication is NOT the only way to solve mental health issues, but I think for me, it might be the only option that will work right now.

And that’s okay.

 
Do you have anxiety? Are you thinking about going on medication? Tell us in the comments!
 

Do NOT say these things to people with anxiety

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  • girlonline317

    I have pretty severe seasonal anxiety. In the winter, most days I’d rather go to the girls bathroom and cry than go to spanish class. The weird thing is that I’ve had the same spanish class with those same 30 kids since I was six, but still they make me really self conscious and anxious. I would ask my parents for therapy or medication but they don’t believe me. I’ve approached them with questions about my anxiety before, but they said I’m just shy and I’ll get over it. 🙁

  • Kelsey

    I’ve struggled with depression / anxiety ect . Actually in about 2 weeks i’m going to see a phycistrist ( how ever you speel that .!) I’m in counselling , i’ve actually switched to a better , specialized counsler . I’m starting to get better . Reaching out for help and starting to love and take care of my self .? best decision i’ve ever made .

  • G

    Hi Caitlin: You’re right. Having anxiety and dealing with it is a lifetime thing for a lot of people. I’m only 26 but I’ve had really bad episodes of social anxiety since I was 16. I went to see a lot of therapists but neither really helped me. I kind of gave up. But slowly, through the years, my condition got better. The bad thing is that I unconsciously prevented myself from having a romantic relationship. I shut down to love and any kind of risks. By the time I was 24 my episodes were fading remarkably but I wanted them gone altogether. I consulted a psychiatrist and he prescribed me fluoxetine. I was very scared of taking it but decided to do it anyway. On the third day of taking it, my blood pressure dropped, I almost fainted on a bus on my way home and I became nauseous. It was horrible and I was so scared. Besides, I lived alone in a city where I didn’t have any relatives to help me. My parents didn’t know about my condition. Anyway, I stopped taking the pills and decided to come clean to my parents. They were supportive, even though I know they don’t fully understand what it’s like to have anxiety and feel like you`ll never be in peace, you’ll always be uncomfortable. I decided to give therapy one last try and asked my mom to look for a psychotherapist. She found one. He’s a psychoanalyst and didn’t send me to a doctor to get medication. He even said that my biggest problem wasn’t my anxiety. The biggest hurdle was the reason I had the episodes: the pain within me that was manifesting in my angst. I still see my therapist and my succeses have been incredible. I speak for myself, no longer have symptoms (I used to suffer from erythrophobia), discovered that I’m not really a shy person, I have a relationship… so many accomplishments. It changed my life and I didn’t need the meds, I only needed to go deeper into my pain, to face my fears and fight back. It worked. Therapy and hard and consistent work did the trick. I know that I still deal with anxiety but in such a mild way that I hardly even notice. Maybe someday it will go away for good, maybe it won’t. But I have a pretty good life right now and that’s enough for me. I feel in peace and if I got here, to this place of peace and strenght, I know you and everyone that suffers from anxiety, will get here too. I know that every case is different but I had severe anxiety for years, probably since I was a child and I didn’t need meds or surgeries or anything like that. I just needed to be brave and talk and work very very hard. I did that and here I am. I hope my story helps you in any way.

  • Bee

    I have OCD. I’ve been going to therapists for years and it was only in the past year I was correctly diagnosed. I’ve been on tons of different medications. A lot of them made me feel physically terrible and one made me suicidal. They sucky thing is the one good medicine that has really improved my mental health has this really annoying side effect for jaw clenching. It’s gotten so painful I’ve deceased my dosage by 150 mg. some days I wish I never had to take any medicine but really the medicine along with therapy has allowed me to do things a couple of years ago I didn’t think I would be able to. My suggestion would be to try the medicine on a low dosage for a few weeks and see how you feel.

  • Bridgette

    I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder my entire life, but just kind of dealt with it. It really went over the edge when I graduated college and began my first job. I was living in a city with no friends (only my boyfriend who was going to grad school and had friends). I was starting my life completely over it felt like. Everything I knew about life (going to school and doing homework) was gone. I had to change how I lived my life…working 8-9 hours a day and figuring out what to do in the evening. I want to be the best at everything I do, and without grades or someone telling me “good job” after everything I did, I had no way of knowing if I was doing well. My boyfriend really helped keep me grounded.

    After a trip to the hospital for an asthma attack that turned into an anxiety attack, I went to the doctor. He put me on Lexipro daily and Lorezepam for emergencies. They really helped stabilize my thinking and calm me down.

    But of course my boyfriend graduated and got a job in the city where my family and friends live. Months later, I found a job and moved to join everyone.

    Here are the negatives:
    The medicine helped with my anxiety so much, but it completely turned off my emotions. My boyfriend of 5 years that I lived with and planned on marrying became a stranger to me because I couldn’t get myself to care so much anymore. We eventually broke up, and while it was ultimately for the better, I can’t help but think the medicine had something to do with it. I also had trouble showing emotion even for my family.

    I’m off it now…I only took them for a year. I see a counselor doing CBT, and feel good about where I am with my anxiety.

    I think the medicine is great to help get you over a hump (like me), but I don’t think people should take it long term.

  • Jo

    Hi Caitlin,
    I have social anxiety disorder, and it’s pretty bad. For a long time, I resisted going to therapy, even though the problem has prevented me from leading anything resembling a normal life. I didn’t want to take medication either, but finally, I had no choice but to see a therapist and go on meds, and I’ll tell you, it’s made all the difference in the world. It is scary when you aren’t on the right stuff (I had a reaction to the first drug I was on; it made my anxiety even worse), but once you’re on the best combination for your individual brain chemistry, you’ll feel like a whole new person. For example, before I was on medication, I couldn’t even make a purchase because I was so scared of interacting with the cashier, but now I do it without thinking twice!
    I hope everything works out for you!