Michael’s “normal” but really wishes he could be better.


Yesterday, my mental health med doctor and I arrived at the conclusion that at least for the next six months how I am normally is how I’ll be until we check in again in January. My med cocktail will stay the same. I am encouraged to continue seeing my therapist as needed. And, how I feel on a daily basis is (hopefully) not going to change much.

I say this with some hesitation. I still suffer on a regular basis from Anxiety. It does not feel good to have a panic attack (and all the emotional and physical pain that accompanies it) every couple of weeks … to say nothing of the daily (for the most part short-lived and predictable) anxious moments when I fear the day ahead or I internalize “how stupid Michael was” each night as I spend a few minutes blowing everything out of proportion.

So why is this acceptable? Because most of my day I am not haunted by Anxiety. I go about my home and work life normally (whatever that means). And I am not depressed. Thankfully, (say it again) “I am not depressed.”

And so, I feel lucky. I should feel lucky. Tweaking with meds for a year and a half and then verifying with my med doctor every couple of months that this is acceptable — not optimal, but acceptable — is a good thing.

But I’ll admit it. After a panic attack or sometimes when my daily fears subside, I get really angry and all “Why me!?” about this all. I hate that I have this cost – benefit analysis of “what can I live with” that on a few days now and then fells more like “what can I endure.”

And so let me be frank about just a little bit more. I hate that my drugs make me tired most of the time? My god, I feel like going to bed each night at 7:30 pm and struggle to make it to 8:30 or 9 pm on most nights.

And one last thing. Oh, I hate this. My drugs S … L … O … W things down. It takes me a minute for my thoughts to catch up sometimes. I want to be sharp. I want to be in command of my thoughts immediately.

Of course, my doctor says, “You know, it’s good to mull over most things before you (in the universal “you” sense), blurt something out your mouth. Which is true. But we’re more of a society that blurts things out and interrupts others when we speak. It’s hard to get attention holding up my hand when I am finally ready to speak.

I’m sorry. This post is much more negative than it should be. I just agreed with my med doctor that my meds are working. I’m at an acceptable place. For most of the day, I control my emotions rather than them controlling me. I’m happy. I rarely use the word “snazzy” in vain. Sometimes I whistle when I walk. I’m good. Okay. I’m okay. On the “what’s my mood on a daily basis scale” that my med doctor asks me about each time I visit, I’m a 6.5. The “2s” of a panic attack are rare. What do you want, Michael?

What do I want? I want to feel more normal than my current normal is. But sometimes we have to accept the illness that’s been thrown at us. Sometimes you can’t win it all … you just have to live the life you can achieve and appreciate it.

Easier said than done … at least as I’m typing these words.

(Sorry for the poor writing in this post. I just had to get the words out as they came to me.)



  1. Tom Sampson 30 July 2017 at 9:03 pm

    I try to follow Jesus Christ, so I ask myself, what would he do to help you get rid of your panic attacks? I believe he would tell me to ask God to make them stop, and to thank him in advance for listening. More likely than not he will use the medical profession to cure you. About 40 years ago my wife checked herself into the hospital because of severe anxiety and obsessive thoughts about harming someone. After visiting three or four psychiatrists, she finally found one that specialized in her illness. He had an associate who counseled a group that helped people with phobias and obsessive thoughts. So a combination of anti-depressant medication, group therapy, and individual cognitive behavioral therapy, helped her to the point where she hasn’t seen a doctor or therapist for many, many years, except to get her prescription for Paxil renewed each year. She says now her garden is her therapy.

    Why am I saying all this? Because I want you to know that you can live better with less anxiety and fewer panic attacks. I have to believe that the medical profession has made great strides in the last forty years, and there are doctors out there that can make your life much better.

    I can only imagine how much pain and suffering you’re enduring, and I hope and pray you get the help you need. Call me anytime, day or night, if you need a friend.

  2. Tom Sampson 30 July 2017 at 9:14 pm

    P.s. I like the title of your blog, Prone to Hope. My definition of hope is the confident expectation that something good will happen. Emphasis on the word “confident”.

    • Michael Dahl 31 July 2017 at 7:48 am

      I often say that hope is an active verb. If you hope for something, you must do something to make it possible. “Hoping to win the lottery” is ridiculous. “Hoping for better health” is something you can actually strive for.

      Thank you for your friendship, Tom.

  3. Cori 26 August 2017 at 6:19 pm

    My therapyst and I have been talking about “In the moment”.
    When I check in with myself at any given “moment”, most of the time I`m doing pretty decient. Suprizing
    If The air in my enviroment smells good. If not, I change the oil in my defuser. If I want to taste something, and I`m not hungry, make some tasty tea. If my shoulder hurts, stretch out the pain.
    You get the idea…
    I`m not giving advise. I`m just sharing what new thing I`m trying to do to improve my “normal” or what my idea of what I WANT my “normal” to be.


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