Posted on 31 July 2016 by Michael Dahl

Should I be satisfied with my current level of mental health?

I’m a little hesitant to report on my mental health of late. I don’t want to jinx my progress.

I teeter totter between “I’m just an anxious guy” (albeit considerably less so than where I’ve been) and “I could possibly be headed toward an ‘acceptable’ that is really worth celebrating.”

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a having a very public panic attack. I told my mental health doctor about the incident and about my still present fears on many a morning. She and I agreed that a continued tweaking of my meds was warranted.

Post tweak, I haven’t had a panic attack. And my anxiety levels in regular, everyday life have also decreased — although only incrementally so. Still, it’s been an improvement.

My wife reports that I seem normal from her perspective (although she feels for my reported inward struggle). But I guess I’m wondering if how people perceive me is the gauge I want to go by and tell my doctor “success.”

So what would claiming that success mean? It would mean that my meds have brought me to a place where sometimes I feel a calm confidence I haven’t felt for years. Often, I don’t notice it’s where I am at. It is just how I am, operating in regular, everyday activities from a much better place. If I do notice it, I perceive that my forehead is extremely relaxed and I feel that my thoughts are strong and confident.

But claiming success would not mean that everything is rosy. Again, I teeter totter. Many mornings I still have a fear of the day ahead. But as I posted in an earlier essay, the negative thoughts and feelings don’t have a stressful reality to attach to, so those morning fears disappear before I go public with my day.

“Success” would also mean taking a chill pill before situations I know will be highly stressful (for me). I have a low threshold for which situations deserve that label of “highly stressful.” But thankfully — if I take the chill pill with enough advance time — I navigate those situations as a “normal” that others would consider normal.

So have I reached my my end goal? Is this what I settle for? Perhaps. But I also know — from my doctor’s sharing — more tweaking is possible.

I would like to not have my morning fear time. I would also like to have my threshold for “highly stressful” situations taken up a bit — okay, considerably. In other words, I’d rather not have to rely on chill pills so often.

I still have a couple of weeks until I visit with my mental health med doctor again. So there’s more time to weigh pros and cons of life as I currently am.

Here’s the rub. And this may seem trivial. When people used to ask how I was doing … you know, in that greeting sense: “Hi. How you doin’” sense. I used to answer “Snazzy.” I don’t do that anymore. (I am not about to use the word snazzy in vain.)

I want the return of snazzy. I don’t know if that’s an impossible ask.

So there you have it. Onward? Of course. Satisfied? I don’t know.