A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I was having heart flutters and when my doctor saw my test results she said I needed to cut down my stress. When I started spewing all the things I had to be stressful about and heard myself telling her about my routines, I gladly took the prescription for an anti-anxiety medication that she offered.
It changed my life.
In a few short weeks, all those voices that were in my head saying mean and spiteful things went away. My mind wasn’t replaced with silence. I don’t think I’m capable of being voice-less. As Aaron often says, “it’s how God made me.”
Once my mind did quiet down, I was able to see how obsessive compulsive I was acting. I was constantly counting. I was having a hard time leaving my house because I was afraid of what would happen if I did. I had to check the animals, the appliances, the lights over and over several times before I could leave. Often, I would get a few blocks away from home and have to turn around to re-check everything again.
The medication hasn’t been without side effects. It affects sex drive. It impedes the ability to orgasm. It’s finding the right dose that makes it bearable.
After being on the medication for awhile, I started studying Buddhism. The details are for another post, but many of the teachings are also about quieting our minds. The judgmental voices in our heads are of our own making and we have the ability to change their tone.
I am not “cured.” I still do my routines. Many times when Kelly picks me up for an outing I will have to go back inside to re-check everything before we can leave.
I was getting concerned because Aaron does the routines with me. When it’s time to go somewhere, he immediately offers, “the dryer’s off…the dogs are inside…we can go.” I told my doctor I was worried he was catching my OCD and she suggested maybe he’s just being empathetic. I still worry because he was awfully OCD when he came to live with us, although it seems to have passed as he settled into a secure environment.
Jim tries to be understanding. But I still see occasional the eye roll when he tells me everything is fine and I still have to check it out myself. The twins are accepting of everything, so I feel no judgment from them.
The anxiety seems worse when I get my period. I’m hoping maybe that when my hormones settle down after menopause I might be “cured.”
Despite having my masters degree in clinical psychology, it never occurred to me to mention my anxiety to anyone when it started out. Maybe I thought I could handle it. Maybe I was embarrassed. But that conversation with my doctor was the best one I’ve ever had. Having it sooner could have saved me years and years of needless anxiety.