About this time 3 years ago, I began having mini sort of panic attacks. I didn’t ever get to the can’t catch my breath, I’m dying phase I’ve been at before. Rather, it was a constant sort of dread. I could talk myself down from it, but as time went on I spent more time talking myself off a ledge than I did living my life.
The solution was a very low dose of an anti-depressant. I stayed on it until the end of my last MBA residency. 8 months after I started, I realized that I had forgotten to take it for 5 days in a row, so I stopped. While not the ideal way to wean yourself off a drug, it turns out that when I was done writing a thesis, doing coursework, and coping with awful classmates, I was capable of working 50 hours a week and managing a divorce and a chronic disease. Indeed, I was so capable that I applied for my current master’s.
In my medicine cabinet is a bottle of Ativan. There are, let’s say about 20 pills in it. There were originally 30. It was prescribed in the dark months after Gabe’s death, so in 12.5 years, I have taken less than a pill a decade. To be honest, given that it expired a decade ago, we might say that there was a decade where I did not take any of them.
I have needed three in the last 9 days, since I became single and unemployed.
This became particularly germane because a friend called to check in yesterday. We were to have a 5 pm virtual drink. When she asked what I was drinking, I told her honestly, I wasn’t. Yesterday at 3 pm, after a few hours of trying to get my racing mind and pounding heart under control, I reached for an Ativan. In minutes the panic was not gone but sufficiently receded that I could reason myself the rest of the way back to sanity.
Honesty about where I’m at, and needing help does not come easily to me. Which I suppose makes me all the more thankful for the monstrous regiment of women who check in on me. Asking for the truth, not my dry observations. Who tell me the same things over and over again – that I am loved and not alone. Who sometimes repeat back to me what I have told them during their darkest hours.
And this – the friend last night, who when I said that I didn’t think I needed to go back on anxiety medication, told me I was wrong. I do.
She’s right. I have a telephone doctor’s appointment booked in a few hours.