It’s been about a year since I sought professional help for my latest bout with Anxiety and Depression. As I’ve noted many times as the year has progressed (after a med-change-induced plunge into a deep Depression and acute Anxiety), I’ve gotten much better.
But life is complicated. I’ll admit with some sadness I have not reached (yet?) the “better” that I had hoped for. Anxiety still plagues me — albeit at a much more tolerable state than I’ve been for years.
It’s just sad because while It’s not as pronounced, Anxiety is a more frequent presence in my life.
Sunday’s can still suck. And pretty much every morning includes some fear of the day ahead.
I have (for the most part) found ways to cope with each.
On Sunday afternoons, when Anxiety would really like to drag me down, I employ many tactics to minimize the state of fear and doubt regarding the week ahead. I plunge into the question of “Why am I feeling this way?” … which is the most successful approach I’ve found other than medicating myself with a doctor approved “chill pill.” I work to find gratitude in the world around me (e.g. for my wife, my puppy, my garden, photography etc). And most Sunday evenings I find temporary distraction in searching YouTube for good live performances of music I love, which I then post on Facebook because sharing music is good.
Weekday Anxiety is a tougher nut to crack. It usually hits me about an hour after waking up / an hour before heading out to work. As I am getting ready for the day, it’s hard to make time to just sit with Anxiety and let It pass. So most mornings I just endure It as if one unpredictable breath allows Anxiety to invade my lungs. Instant fear invades my mind. And I work to tell myself, “This will pass.”
Sometimes It does. Sometimes It doesn’t.
And when It doesn’t, I am at a lesser capacity than I usually am.
It is in these moments / on these days when I feel as if I have not achieved the “better” I’ve been striving for for since the latest bout with Anxiety and Depression hit me in March of 2015.
I don’t want to complain. I am so much better than when the descent began. And I seem to get incrementally better even now, months after I felt I’ve achieved “an okay place to be.” That is, I would say that since last September or October I’ve been in a place where I can positively interact with the world and feel that most of the time I am alright and a contributing member to society.
But, thankfully, my doctor has seen that even better might be possible. We’ve tweaked my meds ever so slightly a few times and each time for the better. My therapist has taught me tactics to cope with Anxiety and help it pass more smoothly.
So I know that “better” can be possible. But I also know that the current state of “better” may also simply what I need to accept and work with.
The questions are “Have now I reached where I can expect to be for the foreseeable future?” “Have I gotten to the place where tweaking meds will no longer show noticeably more healthy results?” “Is my mind in the place where I can get better at coping mechanisms for when Anxiety will descend on me, but I shouldn’t fool myself. Anxiety will still descend on me … probably at the frequency It currently does.”
I am asking these questions for three reasons. First, asking these questions is just what I do … if I can achieve an even better form of “better,” I want to do so. Second, sometimes the Anxiety gets really bad (for a short period of time) and bleeds into my outward self. Others see It happening, and I am definitely at a lesser place, a less capable Michael. And third, I am visiting my mental health doctor later this week. I want to ask if there’s any need / hope in tweaking my meds just the slightest amount again?
Regarding the third point — if acceptance of my current med cocktail is where I need to be — I need to then come to terms with that while I continue to practice and perfect (as much as I can) cognitive behavioral therapies.
Acceptance is something I think I can arrive at. But if so, I must admit that for now that makes me sad. I want to be the best Michael possible. I want to feel as much joy as I can. And I want to contribute a great deal to the world.
Perhaps I am at that place: the best Michael possible … the place where I must actively pursue joy because sometimes that joy won’t just come naturally … the Michael I am now may be the one whose contributions I need to be satisfied with.
… Life is complicated.