Why I Take Anxiety Meds: 10 Women Speak Out
I tried medication, reluctantly, when I was much younger but it made my heart start racing and I wanted to crawl out of my skin. After that, I was never going to go on meds again. I would just deal with my anxiety the best I could. Living with severe OCD became more and more difficult. I saw how it was affecting my life and my children so, VERY reluctantly, two years later, I tried a different medication. This time, I didn’t have the same side effects–just a bad stomach for a couple of weeks. I stayed with it and am still taking the medication. My life is a thousand percent better and I know it is because of the drug I am taking. I still have a few side effects, but none as awful as constantly “spinning” as you guys call it! I don’t tell people in my life that I am on medication. It’s not that I’m so ashamed; I know I really need it. But explaining it to others is another story. It’s easier just to keep it to myself.
I was so ashamed I needed medication that I kept it in a Tylenol bottle so that nobody would see it. But guess what? It helped me so much, it gave me my life back. I was even able to date again. I’m less ashamed now. I’ve even posted a few things on this website!
My mother and father were the types that did not believe in medication. In fact, they didn’t believe in mental illness. My mother used to tell me not to air my dirty laundry in public. Even after they passed, my brother and sister and I felt the same way. I lived with depression for a long time and a lot of anxiety too but I never talked about it with anyone. Once, I tried to tell my doctor but he didn’t really seem to understand my symptoms and never mentioned getting any kind of help. Finally, I stumbled on a website about mental illness and realized that I needed to do something. I called my insurance and found a psychiatrist and I was shaking when I went in the door. Even though I was scared, we tried several different medication combinations over the course of a year until we found one that worked. I also started therapy. I kept saying I needed to get off the medication as soon as possible but my therapist pointed out that I was a better mom when I wasn’t depressed and anxious. I try to remember that whenever I freak out about taking the medication. I still have not told my family because they would judge me.
Nobody in my family seemed to have the depression and anxiety that I dealt with since high school. (Actually, my uncle clearly has some sort of issues. But nobody talks about it.) I had a loving family, a great education, I was comfortable financially, I had a great husband. I was in therapy off and on for years, but I never considered medication because that was for people who really had problems. I just thought I was overly sensitive. Then I started to get panic attacks and ended up in the emergency room thinking I was dying. They told me in the ER that anxiety disorder is a real thing and that I should see a psychiatrist about medical treatment. Getting the right medication has been quite a process and side effects have been an issue. I wish I didn’t have to be on medication, but I now see how long I suffered because my problems did not seem “real” or as serious….which was not true.
Where I’m from, there’s no such thing as anxiety. People who complain about anxiety are called “Nervous Nellies” or “Worry Warts.” You get made fun of if you have mental problems. So I never talked about it with anyone. For more than 10 years, I had “episodes” which I know now were anxiety attacks. I just thought I had a bad heart. If anyone back at home knew I was taking anti-depressants, I would never hear the end of it!
I used to think anxiety medications were the easy way out. But then my daughter started having panic attacks and it was a nightmare. She missed so much school and stopped hanging out with her friends. We tried therapy and yoga and deep breathing and all the natural treatments out there. None of them stopped the dizziness and stomach problems she had every single day. Finally, she begged us to let her take something for the anxiety. Thank goodness we did. She is a different person now!
From Emily’s daughter:
Lots of my friends have mental illness–anxiety or ADHD mostly, but a few people I know are bipolar. Some of us take meds and some don’t. It depends on your therapist, I guess. But we don’t judge each other about it like older people do. We all talk about it all the time. My mom was so upset about it, but I think she gets it now.
People gave me such a hard time about my medication that I lied and said I went off it. But I can’t really go off it because I can’t go back to living like that. I’m not being dramatic, but my life was seriously not worth living. I didn’t do anything because nothing made me feel any better. Depression is a serious illness. If I didn’t take medication, I might not be here.
It took me years to give in to Mags’ persistent suggestion that I needed meds to manage my anxiety and depression. I always thought of myself as such an upbeat and determined person–I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just exercise and meditate the anxiety away. Believe me, I tried. I thought Mags was nuts to take medication and I let her know that. I especially was hard on her when she was pregnant. I was so judgmental! But then my panic attacks started, and there was no pushing through that. The only thing that gave me any relief at all was medication, and every day I am thankful that those meds are out there for those of us with brain disorders. My only shame is how badly I must have made Mags and other Anxiety Sisters feel about taking meds before I understood that mental illness is real and often requires medical intervention.
Anxiety and panic attacks meant that I spent a lot of my 20’s, (the time when I wanted to develop my career and enjoy life) stuck in my house dry-heaving and shaking. My family members would always encourage me to eat “healthy” and exercise. But it became clear to all of us that this was not a viable solution because everything I ate (when I could get anything down) when right through me. It’s also pretty hard to exercise when you are dizzy, shaking, and can’t eat or even leave the house. My therapist believed strongly in trying to muscle through and not letting your anxiety stop you from doing anything. However, when it got to the point when I was unable to take a shower and get to work, she said “Enough. You are being tortured. You obviously need medication.” My one regret is that I tried to push through for too long….I suffered a lot…
Founding the Anxiety Sisterhood is my way of helping others relieve their suffering. I would never push meds on anyone (except for Abs–she so desperately needed them!), and I don’t think medication is always the best treatment for mental illness. I just want people to stop judging those of us who for whom medication is the best treatment. We all deserve to live our lives fully, don’t we?
I think anxiety meds have helped me a lot. I have taken them for years. The one thing nobody tells you is that they are harder to get off than opiates.
Some meds are harder to get off than others. It depends on the medication and the person. But it would be helpful for psychiatrists and internists to make sure patients understand this before they start taking them.
Taking medication is nothing to be ashamed of.
Anxiety and panic is A Real medical condition . I Have felt with it for 28 yrs.
Being Happy is a part of Healing.
I’m a much happier Person without anxiety.
Merry Christmas to All❤️
Absolutely, it is wonderful that we have ways to help those of us with mental illness. Medication can change the quality of our lives (as can therapy). Thanks for helping us to fight the stigma.
Mags and Abs
In my experience medication works for anxiety but again there is a kind of dependency. We depend on the medication to be anxiety free. CBT and Exposure are the ultimate treatment options that help a lot.
Thanks for your input. Many people need both (at least for a time). I did a lot of exposure therapy and CBT and I could not have managed it without medication.
what is CBT???
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
I am so happy to find your site, I have suffered with anxiety my whole life, panic started at age 23, am now 64. I managed well with Xanax and Valium, but now still on the Xanax and it isn’t working anymore. Been on a zillion antidepressants that made the anxiety worse. Been thru ECT twice with no help. I can barely drive, can’t go in stores, yet petrified to be alone. I can’t find anyone to help me, been to many psychiatrists and counselors. I need help desperately but can’t find it. Go to the ER constantly thinking I’m having a heart attack. So scared and so ashamed, can anyone please help me.
We are so sorry to hear that you are having a hard time. Have you been diagnosed with depression as well as anxiety (you mentioned ECT). It sounds like you need a very comprehensive exam….especially if you could find a psychiatrist that is part of a larger team or in an inpatient facility specializing in hard to treat anxiety or depression (not a psychiatric hospital from the ER for short-term emergency). We know it feels shameful but it is like any other illness, not a matter of will but a brain malfunction and you deserve to feel better. Let us know how you are doing, mags and abs
Is it true that you can get alot from psychedelic mushroom? I’ve been reading this article about magic mushrooms and im fascinated about its medicinal properties but it has psychedelic effect that can make you hallucinate. The thing is it can help you cope with depression and gives you a relaxing vibe but im not pretty sure because i haven’t really tried it myself yet. Can you give me some more information regarding about psychedelic mushroom? Thank You!!
Recently a few interesting books and studies have come out on psychedelic drugs for PTSD, depression, and a number of other mental illnesses. (Although it is counter indicated for schizophrenia and bipolar issues.). Here’s the thing, it has to be done with a guide that understands what she/he is doing, and with drugs that are of good quality. Michael Pollen (the food writer) has been investigating this a lot and has interesting things to say. We have not tried this but are interested in the work being done in this area. Best of luck, Mags and Abs
Can some share which medicines they are taking that have worked for them? I have tried buspar but it has made me feel more anxious, dizzy and fatigued/tired. I take Xanax when I’m actively having an attack which helps but I never feel good. I’m working with my doctor and a counselor just not getting any results. I am 51 and have dealt with anxiety for about 15 years.