I thought for YEARS that the goal of recovery was to learn how to manage anxiety. So naturally, I tried everything to manage it! All the coping skills, all the mindfulness techniques, literally anything that promised anxiety relief. And believe me, I tried ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to manage anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia!
And then 10 years ago I walked into a psychiatrist's office to talk about going on medication because I was at one of the lowest points in my recovery journey, and she said to me, "F*** managing anxiety! You don't have to learn to manage anxiety." And this was one of the most pivotal points of my recovery journey, and of my life!
Trying to Manage Anxiety Might Be a Big Reason Why You're Still Struggling
Why I Chose To See A Psychiatrist To Talk About Trying Medication
During one of the lowest points of my anxiety recovery journey, I chose to visit a psychiatrist to talk about medication. This was the first time I felt like I couldn't keep doing what I was doing, and I felt like I was struggling to be functional and do day-to-day things. And, of course, this was absolutely terrifying. Despite struggling with panic and agoraphobia for years, I was always functional, and I always did the things. And ultimately, I decided to give medication another shot.
My conversation with the psychiatrist made me feel incredibly seen and validated. For so long, I told myself that this wasn't a big deal, that I should be able to do more, and all sorts of unhelpful stuff! But when she told me that she was amazed that I was still able to work and function despite my severe panic and agoraphobia, I felt like I could acknowledge how strong I was for the first time.
Why Trying To Manage Anxiety Causes More Problems
When the psychiatrist told me that I didn't need to manage anxiety, I was confused at first. Because, after all, I thought managing anxiety was how you recovered! And during that visit, she told me that she thought a big reason why I had been struggling for so long was because I was trying to do everything to manage (aka fix) the anxiety. She helped me learn to recognize that recovery was truly a possibility for me, too. I left that visit feeling so free from the things I had been convincing myself of for so long!
And when the psychiatrist told me all of this, I knew that I had to stop trying to manage anxiety. Instead, I had to start facing the uncomfortable feelings head-on! Ultimately, I needed to stop trying so hard. At that moment, I realized that anxiety wasn't the problem all along. It was the way I had been responding to anxiety for so long. I had to do lots of hard work, but the small steps eventually led me to anxiety recovery.
My Thoughts On Medication and some helpful advice
Although medication didn't end up working for me, I want to emphasize something that's really important. Medication is just another tool for you to utilize throughout the anxiety recovery process. And it's okay if you're on medication! It's also okay if you feel hesitant about medication like I did. And just because my experience with medication wasn't great, doesn't mean that it won't be helpful for you!
Don't forget to tune in and listen to the full episode for all the goodness! And until next time, friend, keep taking healthy action!