Question: Jill, I was curious if you don’t mind my asking. Do you take any medications? I do not but sometimes I wonder if it would help. I did take Paxil 17 years ago & I would say that is when I gained a lot of ground. Medication or not….that is the question. lol… I’d love your thoughts.
Answer: Yes I do. But only on an as needed basis. A 30 day supply of of Klonopin lasts me 6 months or more. Taking medication for anxiety is highly personal- meaning, there is no “one size fits all” solution. I know that a lot of doctors prescribe antidepressants (SSRI’s) for long term chronic anxiety. I have taken Prozac and then Celexa in the past. I am not currently taking an antidepressant.
Despite going through a lot of family and personal drama last summer, I am in a surprisingly good space, anxiety- wise. I attribute that to my consistency in sitting down to meditate for 6 minutes every morning, going to the gym a few times a week for exercise, and showing up to work every day (where I interact with my friends, coworkers and patients). I also make sure to get out and socialize at least once every month or two.
In other words, I strive to have balance in my life. I know I am someone for whom a resurgence of anxiety is possible at any time. I am hard wired to be a nervous person. I accept that about myself and know that practicing self care doing the things mentioned above are essential for my well-being.
But I know there are good and bad seasons in life. And when the next bad season comes- as it inevitably will- life is always changing- if I feel I need to take more medication or add an antidepressant – then I certainly will.
The fact that you say you “gained a lot of ground” when you took Paxil is something. But today is today. Are you in a similar situation now, and are your symptoms similar as when you decided to take the Paxil back then?
How are Things Going in Your Life?
Are you feeling good overall? Can you function with a level of anxiety and still go about your daily activities without too much angst (because you know from experience that once you are out and about it naturally goes away)? Or do you feel limited and like your world is closing in? These are questions you may want to ask yourself in deciding whether to take anxiety medication.
Nature is Anti Anxiety Medicine
Do you like to spend a little time in nature? Today is my day off. This morning it was 40 degrees, cloudy and drizzling. And my right hip and right big toe were aching. But I still went for my morning walk. Exercise is too important to be missed and nice Spring weather is just around the corner! I found a little trail in the middle of one of the local parks where I can let Buddy go off leash. It was wonderful- I loved hearing the mucky muck sounds of my feet on the wet trail, and the sound of the little babbling brooks from all the melted snow. We saw some majestic hawks and a squirrel or 2.
Here is the little path- it goes uphill for a good half mile to a cell phone tower. The steady uphill felt so good. I know it looks dreary but it was actually beautiful. I love being alone with Buddy in the woods!
And here’s my Buddy boy smiling and happy to be out. He is limping a little but he still needs his exercise. He’s going to be 10 in a few months!
Being out in nature is one of the best balms for anxiety. I am going to go out again later when it warms up and do a little yard clean up. I just love the fresh air and hearing those spring birds. And being with Buddy too, he just loves every minute outside.
My job entails being around people and interacting constantly. So I absolutely love my solitude and alone time. I use it to restore and re-energize me.
How well do you take care of yourself?
With regards to taking medication for anxiety- or not– only you know how you feel. I don’t think most of us are trained very well to take care of ourselves. Taking care of others now that’s a different story, right? lol! I am a natural care taker. But learning to tune into my feelings and learn to recognize when I am in distress- now that was something I had to teach myself.
So when you are on the fence and thinking about medications for anxiety- it helps to look within. How are your thoughts- are you mostly ok, or are you in one of life’s darker times? Really evaluate how you are feeling and how you are functioning.
If you are in anxious distress- where you can no longer work, drive, or do your normal activities of daily life, that is a red flag. There is nothing to be gained by trying to muscle through feeling overwhelmed like that, or watching your world close in and feeling terrible about it. It’s not something you can just snap yourself out of, in my opinion.
So be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for having anxiety. Instead, take action: read a good anxiety resource book or work a program that you know will help you. Take good care of yourself and if you need to see a doctor to ask about medication, then do so.
No guilt, no drama. Just take care of yourself.
I wish you peace,