I promise that I am working on the next installment of my story, The Nietzsche Files. But, I wanted to share that I have been going through a weaning period off my medication. Two years ago I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is a very real problem and many people in the world suffer from some variety of anxiety. And to be honest, this is one of the major reasons I’ve never done a public appearance to promote my books. Whenever focus is on me in a large group, I shut down. I also prefer to text with people rather than talk on the phone. It takes me a long time to get up the courage to actually meet someone face to face, or talk to them on the phone. Once I feel comfortable, then I can talk your ear off.
Unfortunately, the medication I take has a high addiction rate, even though I’m not taking a high dosage — Klonopin. This particular benzodiazepine — street name “benzos” — has nasty side-effects. This is also becoming a serious problem for people who take it as recreational drug. It is quickly becoming a new form of heroin. And, like heroin, it takes its toll on the body and some damage can become permanent.
When I started to notice side effects, I went to my doctor and we both decided that it was time to wean myself off of them — more drugs was not an option for me. You can’t just quit them cold turkey because there can be dire effects — seizures, sickness, severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Luckily, the only effects I am suffering from are hand tremors, anxiety episodes and lack of energy. I will be off the pills in 75 days.
So this has caused me to be erratic with my social media and interactions with people. Some days I just lay on the couch and stare at nothing. But as the days go by I’ve learned other coping mechanisms — breathing, meditation, cutting out things that incite anxiety. I am finally getting to a place where I can deal with it.
But this post is not about my personal struggle, I say it as a warning to anyone else who falls into the clutches of this drug, or any of its many siblings. While it allows one to function, it eventually will require more of your soul to continue to “help you cope”. Unfortunately, there are people who have disorders far worse than me. I know too many people who have been subjected to terrible things. I know too many people with PTSD and they’ve either chosen to medicate with alcohol or with drugs such as the one I am leaving behind. Some are so medicated, they can’t function daily. I know people, despite the drugs, that still can’t overcome their anxiety.
Another aspect to consider is that we are constantly bombarded with commercials for drugs. We are being taught that better living can only be achieved through chemistry. We are even being told that its okay to medicate our children, rather than face the problems head on. Now this is not to say that all drugs are bad, some are absolutely necessary. People do have maladies that require medication so that they can survive. However, in my humble opinion, when it comes to maladies of the brain, we really need to be careful jumping right to drugs. As I’m finding, the anxiety I was experiencing just required me to be more mindful of my surroundings and knowing myself. I can overcome it, and I know that those who are suffering as I am, can also overcome. It takes an understanding from the people around you, believing in yourself, and just taking every day as it comes.
My advice, and it is only from my own personal experience, is this; Identify what causes your anxiety and is it really worth worrying about? Once you identify what causes your anxiety, you just have to work on dealing with it in a productive way. That may require counseling or a support network. There are ways to deal with anxiety without having to resort to pills. The first step is simply learning to breathe and remind yourself that its okay. The second step is to focus on the good and not the bad. One way I did this is I don’t watch anything other than the weather. I have found that the nightly news is geared to negativity. We are subjected to story after story of horrible things in the world. I’m here to tell you that the world is not nearly as terrible as it is depicted every night. The final step is to recognize that none of us are perfect — you can’t be, what would be the fun in that? People stress about keeping up with everyone else. Be you. And if people don’t like you for who you are, then they are not worth another thought.
Yes, I had anxiety putting this out there, but I have many friends on social media and on twitter, and I don’t want anyone to think I am ignoring them, or have forgotten about them.
I hope those of you going through the same issues as I am are able to find peace. I just wanted to share this with you so you know you’re not alone.
Thank you as always for listening to me ramble.