Originally posted June 30, 2018 on the previous Little Mountains Blog website.
I started this blog a little over a year ago with the intent to write about things I’d never had the courage to write about before. Things that were both necessary and totally scary to talk about. Things like the anxiety I’d been battling for years and the stigma around mental health that needs to change and the emotions I hoped others could relate to. For awhile, I was writing consistently and I really felt the love from my community. So thank you, to anyone who has supported me and read my words thus far.
The catch-22 of mental illness is that those who suffer from it are at once needing to find community and not feel alone and share their problems with others who can relate, while also trying to get better and leave those problems behind. It’s not that easy, and healing certainly isn’t linear, and those of us with mental health challenges will experience many highs and lows throughout our lives. But we are in a sense always striving to leave those feelings behind that also happen to link us to the community we so need.
Just under a year ago, I started taking 75 milligrams of Sertraline, the generic of Zoloft, every morning. I resisted going on a daily medication for a long time. Let me be clear – I’ve always been a total and complete advocate of medication for mental health. I’ve seen it drastically improve the lives of friends and family members, and I fully believe that mental illnesses are chemical imbalances of the brain that are treatable like any other physical illness. But it’s still scary to make the leap to rely on daily medication in your own life. Especially for those of us with anxiety, because we get anxious just thinking about all the potential side effects and what it would mean to be medicated for the rest of our lives and what if it doesn’t work and what if it makes it worse and so down the rabbit hole we go.
But I had been doing worse than I thought I was, in all honesty. In the year leading up to my decision to go on daily meds, I felt nauseous constantly, the severity of which doubled upon getting into a car, attending a meeting, or after even one alcoholic drink. I was constantly dizzy, probably from forgetting to breathe because my mind was racing so quickly. And I couldn’t eat. I would feel excruciatingly hungry, take one bite of food, and feel so full I wanted to throw up. This went on for months, in varying degrees.
I thought I was managing. I thought that was just the way it was for me. I thought leaving Los Angeles would change everything. And while it was a positive change, it didn’t take away my symptoms. And then one day, as I was about to get into the car with my Mom to go thrift shopping in a little town about 45 minutes away, I had a breakdown. I couldn’t get in the car, I told my Mom through stifled tears, because I already felt nauseous and being trapped in the car for 45 minutes felt unfathomable to me. I cried and I admitted how I’d been feeling even since the move and she encouraged me, once again, to try going on daily medication. I finally said I would.
So with the support of my family and close friends, I decided to give it a try. And other than a brief period of feeling a little zoned out while my body adjusted, my meds have not caused me any problems. What they have done is make my life comfortable again. I’m still anxious – that’s who I am, that’s who I’ll always be. But it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, and it’s not nearly as crippling as I didn’t realize it truly was.
That’s the best way I can explain it. Comfortable. That’s how I feel now, and how I hadn’t felt for a very long time. I still get anxious about certain things, hell, I still get anxious for no reason sometimes. But overall, on a day-to-day basis, I’m comfortable. And to me, that’s huge.
I’m lucky, really, to have a family that has always encouraged me to get help and never once judged or shamed me for my struggles. I’m lucky to have a psychiatrist who talked through all of my options with me, started me out on the lowest dose possible, and made sure I was okay throughout the whole process. I’m lucky to be able to feel comfortable in my own life again.
But it feels as though feeling better has left me with less to write about. Maybe that’s an excuse, maybe it’s true. But at the same time, I’ve been struggling with the idea of constantly writing about myself, because I don’t want to just turn this blog into a series of life updates that probably only my Mom cares to read. I didn’t start this to become a full-time blogger, to get likes and followers and sponsorships. That was never the goal here. My freelance writing career has also really taken off, which is fantastic, but it means I’m constantly busy writing for other people and I quite honestly don’t have the energy to write anything else sometimes.
So all of those things have factored into my catch-22. I want to write about my struggles with anxiety because telling my story and cultivating that community has been amazing. But at the same time I’m finally feeling so much better, and I don’t want to write about myself too much. So I’m going to keep this blog going, because I like having the outlet. But I’m only going to post when I feel compelled, and I have no idea how predictable that is going to be.
And thank you again to those of you who have been reading and following along. I hope something I’ve written has been helpful to you, even in the smallest way. It’s certainly been helpful to me.
Until next time, JL