When I was in the deepest throws of my battle with anxiety and depression, inside a bad relationship, dealing with mentally imbalanced parents, and just living a crappy life, I was sure that if I just worked really hard all by myself, eventually, I would win this war I was calling life. I would practice meditation, read The Books, exercise, eat right, and do All the Things and I would fix it. And my Anxiety was right there beside me cheering me on, encouraging anything that didn’t feel threatening to it’s continual existence. And that didn’t include any help from anyone and certainly not medication of any sort.
Do you feel the weight and power of the socially accepted message that medicinal help will make you less in control and less sharp? Or drugs are unnatural and taking them is a sign of defeat? Drug companies are to be untrusted. You’re a loser if you don’t make it through on your own. These are the messages I believed.
There is something suspiciously macho about the concept of battling through. Man up, muscle my way through, and tough it out. Never let them see you sweat because asking for help is a sign of weakness and someone will overtake your village the moment you do. Except, there is no village if we’re all going it alone. And there’s truly no shame if we share our loads.
I finally stop resisting asking for help when my menopausal hormones caused me to suffer a panic attack. I said “Uncle”, or should that be Aunt. I went straight to my doctor and said help me please. He said yes and do yourself a favor, don’t stop when you think you’re better. I said, I promise, when I decide something, I’m done. Why did it take me so long, I asked. He said Stigma. Asking for the pharmaceutical help that has revolutionized neuropsychology in the past 40 years is apparently a stain on your character.
Everyone is anxious. Generalized anxiety is the number one disorder in society. The small amount of people who aren’t are either extremely well adjusted or medicated. And then there’s the rest of us. And when the pandemic added just that little bit on our plates, I wished there was a larger societal understanding born that we all need to be listened to and sometimes that’s just not enough. I’ve been in therapy for over 25 years and it’s been a tremendous help, but it wasn’t enough.
If this helps you or can help someone you know, please share it. Whatever it takes to make us collectively heal, that’s what we need no matter what our prejudices. If your fear is sparked when you hear of someone else trying to handle theirs, stop and ask yourself why. Our anxiety has way more control over us than it ever deserved. And the benefits to overcoming it outweigh any of that other nonsense we tell ourselves to avoid getting the help it provides,
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