Last week was a busy week for us. I had lots of meetings and webinars, some family issues, and my husband was doing his first photographic art showing at a local venue. Actually, the majority of the events were on Thursday: my son AND father-in-law were both having medical tests, I was conducting a webinar, I had a leadership meeting, and the art show was that evening.
Wednesday arrived, and I began to feel more and more anxious. Tim said, you’ll probably feel better tomorrow when tests are over, your webinar is done, and the art show is over. Maybe.
Thursday came. Tests over. Webinar over. It’s 1:00 and we have to leave in about an hour to set up for the show. I still couldn’t shake the feeling. Now let me give you a bit of background to help explain what happened next.
You might already know that during the height of the pandemic I went back on Lexapro (to help with my anxiety) for the first time in over 20 years. I went off the medication in early 2021 but wound getting back on for a few months late 2021/early 2022. In April of this year, I went back to my doctor to talk about getting off again, but this time with another approach in mind.
I lived with an anxiety disorder for the better part of my life, culminating in the psychiatric hospital stay in 1995. During this last time on Lexapro, I had a realization: I do not have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) anymore; I have situational anxiety. What does this mean?
For me (I never want to give medical advice to you) it means I do not need to be on a daily medication to manage my anxiety. Over the past 20 years, I have grown mentally, physically, and spiritually and have developed tools to help cope when I’m anxious. So now I talk about my anxiety triggers, and it’s important that you recognize yours.
During the pandemic, it was a perfect storm during which all my triggers were trigged! That’s why I went back on the medication, not thinking I might take a different approach. That’s when I had several conversations with my mental health support team (my term for those who help me with these decisions – I just created it )
Turns out, there are a few medications for situational anxiety. I went back to my doctor, explained my situation, and we decided to take this new medication approach. She wrote me a prescription, and 3 months later I still haven’t taken one.
But, THAT day…… ugh!
On that Wednesday night, I had told my husband I might take one of those pills the next day if I wasn’t feeling better. I was short of breath, jittery, lacked focus, worried – all the things that come along with anxiety.
Thursday night came, and he asked me if I had taken the medication. Oh my gosh – I forgot!
So what did that mean?
It meant that I was right in my assessment of my own situation. My anxiety is situational, and not only that, but it also often resolves itself. It also meant that several pieces of advice that I have received and given do help. One of them is to keep busy. Now I don’t mean crazy busy – the kind of busy that gives us a stressed-out identity! I mean the kind of busy where you occupy your physical and mental self. It could be working on a project, cleaning the house, reading, watching your favorite show, shopping – anything to distract your mind and get that body going!
This takes me to the 2nd piece of advice: focus outward.
That Thursday evening wasn’t about me, it was about my husband. I had lots of tasks to do before the event started: help load the car, set up his art, greet people, take orders, etc. I was hustling to get things done, so I wouldn’t say I was relaxed, but not one time did I feel anxious. And by the time we got home I was super tired and crashed.
I tell you this to remind you of one basic principle: Be your own advocate.
If you struggle with anxiety or other mental health issues, know yourself well enough to be an active participant in your treatment. Soak in advice and find what works for you. I promise, your mental well-being will improve!
Love, Hugs, and Happy Mental Health 😘🤗