Posted on 1 October 2016 by Michael Dahl

lack of joy and scared of the future

The title of this post may seem weird if you’ve read many of my posts declaring how I’ve been getting better in my struggle with Depression and Anxiety. Those posts were and are telling the truth.

Depression has been in my rearview mirror for over a year now — although I still do have depressive thoughts (more on that later).

And, as for Anxiety, yes I’ve been getting better. But in that case, “better” is not, “yay, everything is hunky dory.”

Without anti Anxiety meds, I would really, really be in a terrible place. And without the help my therapist, I would have fewer healthy coping mechanisms to help me weather and shorten periods of Anxiety and panic attacks.

But I’m in a period of transition.

About a month ago my mental health med doctor decided it was time to stop tinkering with my meds — which for each time of tinkering was bringing me incrementally to a place of less Anxiety. She thought the med-tweak increments were becoming too small, and that the greatest benefits would now come from lessons my therapist could teach me.

That surprised me. I was convinced we were a tweak or two away from achieving “better” through meds. I told her that her decision made me sad. But in another surprise — as readers of this blog already know — she said that for a transitory period (like two or three months) I could switch from taking my use only as needed extra chill pills from only as needed to morning, noon, and night.

Her caveat: while I was allowed to do this, she wanted me to use the transitory period to test myself. Perhaps one day I wouldn’t take the noontime pill. Or maybe on another day I would take half pills rather than full ones. Or … well, you can see how I could / can test many variants.

I believe she honestly wants me to do this testing for the value of doing so in and of itself. But she also wants me to employ more of the tactics my therapist was / is teaching me.

In a sense, I feel like I’ve been given a set of training wheels — taking the only as needed pills morning, noon, and night. But someday soon I will only be able to use the training wheels “only as needed” in a very real sense — when Anxiety is about to ruin a whole day or when I need the “only as needed” pill to “be on” for a stressful important task later in the day.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I have been testing different concoctions. And each stray away from the full-pill, morning, noon, and night level of medication has brought on either Anxiety or the hint of Anxiety. In both cases I feel a mental and physical pain — the level of which for each depends what’s going on that day.

For those who don’t suffer from Anxiety, it may be hard to understand the whys and the hows of the very real physical pain. If you care to read more about this in its most intense sense (from my perspective), read “brick-brain, frayed nerves, drenched shirts”. (I will note that I rarely reach these levels of physical pain. But as my post on a fairly recent panic attack noted, it’s not like the experience is completely in my past.

Oh, but I’ve notice I’ve strayed from explaining the title of this post — I am a guy who constantly veers into tangents.

The fact that I may have to live in acceptance of a certain level of Anxiety much of the time makes me very sad. I don’t want to feel that pain; I don’t want to frequently feel Anxiety as regularly ready to pounce. And so, for now, simply knowing this may become my regular reality steals joy from much of my life. With each day that passes, I know the training wheels will / must (?) be removed.

And that is why I am scared of the future.

I noted above that I am no longer Depressed but I frequently have depressive thoughts. By this I mean that I’m not without hope. The depressive thoughts — and associated feelings — pass.  Also, my therapist has taught me many tactics to deal with and / or escape Anxiety. I just need to become better at employing them … I hope I can become better at employing them.

Perhaps, then, I will have the tools to escape Anxiety on a regular basis.

And so, in a series of future posts, I am going to write about how I see employing the tactics my therapist has taught me. My hope is, firstly, that in writing about it I will internalize the tactics more … I currently suck at remembering what to do once Anxiety pounces on me.

Secondly, I hope that in sharing these posts I can help others who struggle with Anxiety.