Its January 25th today, the day we are supposed to open our mouths and ears and hearts and acknowledge the millions of people who live with mental illness.
I am one of those people.
Don’t answer that.
About 16 years ago I started getting these crazy dizzy spells combined with a racing heart. I would feel cold and tingly in my fingers. And then I would need to go and lie down after. I felt like I was short of breath all the time, and my heart rate would go so high at the gym that I felt like it might explode out of my chest.
I was convinced I had a heart condition. I was afraid to go to sleep at night. The insomnia compounded everything. I couldn’t concentrate at work, or absorb any new information. My memory ( which is my ride or die skill) was almost non existent.
I was pretty sure I was going insane at the same time as developing a heart condition.
So I went to my doctor and told him plainly ” I think I’m going nuts” and he said plain as day to me: Crazy people don’t think they’re crazy. I think you have an anxiety disorder with panic attacks. When you start to feel nuts, take a lorazepam and if it makes it go away we’ll know I’m right. See what happens over the next week or so and come back to see me so we can get you on some medication.”
He also said that the first thing they usually prescribe is regular exercise, but seeing as I was already hitting the gym 5 days a week at the time, we decided I needed more help than that. So all those “exercise is the cure for everything” memes can just fuck right off. It helps yes, and today helps me manage my stress, but not always.
So I stayed on medication for about 18 months and was able to gradually wean off of it. I learned some great coping mechanisms and learned how not to feed my anxious mind. I learned to take the physical cues my body was giving me like sore muscles, insomnia, dizzy spells, headaches and use them as cues to take it easy and focus on self care.
And here’s the thing about mental illness: You’re never cured.
Although my symptoms are manageable and I function normally most days, some days, my anxiety is a real asshole. And I have to just let it be, and slow down, and use all the tools I know to keep things in check.
But it will always be there. So sometimes, when I cancel plans because I don’t feel well, it’s actually because I am feeling kinda nuts and just not able to deal with you or your shit, because my own shit is too heavy a burden that day.
And that’s ok too.
What do you want to talk about today, Bitches? I’m listening.