The Truth About Anxiety (Personal)

When I was prescribed an anxiety pill a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was completely unnecessary. I had gone to the doctor about a completely different problem, and the fact that he thought it was also necessary I drink an anti-anxiety, antidepressant pill for a month seemed like just another inconvenience. Initially, this pill made me really drowsy, spaced out and gave me migraines; one week in, and some of the side-effects are still pretty strong. However, I have made the rational decision to drink this medication for the next three weeks, and fight through the side-effects as much as I can. So why the sacrifice?

I know that a good percentage of my generation complains about anxiety. This is such a widespread problem that it has pretty much become a meme and a joke. It almost seems as though everyone suffers from anxiety – many self-diagnosed – and I definitely didn’t want to be part of that group. Since I wasn’t having full-blown panic attacks, I dismissed the possibility of me having this problem and just went about my daily responsibilities. Little did I know that my life would come to a point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Following a series of health complications during the last couple of years or so, I started to develop hypochondriac tendencies. Even after the doctor told me that I had nothing serious, I was convinced that I was detrimentally sick, and continued to experience symptoms of sickness even after I was supposedly “cured”. I was told that this was normal, and if I looked after myself my body would go back to the way it was in a few months. Instead of coming to terms with this, I began to feel terribly anxious that I would stay sick for the rest of my life and that there was something the doctors were missing.

Fast forward one year, and I went to get checked again. Aside from some minor imbalances in my body, the doctors didn’t find anything and basically gave me the same answer – just look after yourself, don’t worry and you will eventually feel better. There is nothing seriously wrong with you. By this point, I felt shaken up and reluctant to believe that I wasn’t heavily sick. I would experience terrible anxiousness from every minor symptom, and was convinced that I had developed all of these problems when numerous tests showed the opposite. I didn’t even have the motivation to “look after myself properly”, believing that it wouldn’t help anyway.

During my last check-up, my doctor decided to call in a neuropathologist and have him check me. It only took him a minute to figure out that I had bad anxiety, and he ended up prescribing me a medication that I was going to have to take for at least a month to calm my nervous system. I was surprised. After all, weren’t all my fears legit? How was an anxiety pill going to help with complications after a sickness? Well, I was wrong.

Anxiety pills are no joke. The side effects are sometimes unbearable, especially when you first start drinking it. However, I began to notice some positive changes, and decided to continue no matter how drowsy I felt. One week later, and it’s still a struggle not to fall asleep during the day. Sometimes I am tempted to stop, but what pushes me to carry on are the strange positive effects it has on my body. The pains and discomfort I used to experience are significantly better, and I no longer feel so anxious about never getting better. Although I am sleepy, it’s almost as if I can think more logically.

This got me thinking about whether or not this was a much deeper problem than just something I’d developed over the last couple of years due to sickness. I remember having horrible anxiety as a child, which is something I dismissed as the typical case of shyness. Now that I think back, it was definitely more than just that. However, as I entered my teen years, this anxiety began to bother me to the point that I forced myself out of my comfort zone so many times that it probably just went into “remission” on its own, and never looked back since. I didn’t want to think back to those years of my early childhood, let alone analyze them, so I just continued living normally up until a couple of years back.

I don’t want to go into too many details, but I got pretty sick in the summer of 2016. What made it worse is that it took the doctors about half a year to figure out what was wrong with me, and I was given an unpleasant (but definitely not fatal) diagnosis in December of that year. I took a couple of rounds of pills, but the symptoms just kept coming back. Every time I would feel a slight pain, fatigue or hint of nausea, I convinced myself that the sickness was back and I needed to go get checked. Moreover, I didn’t believe the doctors when they said that nothing was seriously wrong and that I would get better it time – according to my perception, I would be chronically sick for the rest of my life.

This began to take over my life, since I felt physically unwell nearly every single day. However, I had no idea that my mental state was affecting my physical one – I simply thought that I felt bad mentally BECAUSE I was not well physically, and didn’t consider that the first could cause the latter. When people told me to stay strong and positive, I looked at them as though they were crazy – how on earth was a change in attitude going to help me get out of this? My hypochondriac tendencies were completely normal in my eyes, and I felt as though nobody understood what I was going through.

Fast forward to now, and I am a hundred percent sure that I will finish drinking the whole monthly prescription of this unpleasant medication. Maybe I feel drowsy and get nasty migraines from time to time, but for the first time in my life I can acknowledge that I definitely experience symptoms of anxiety and probably have for my whole entire life. This pill is supposed to help me feel better and give my body a chance to cure itself without all of the nervousness that stopped it from doing so before; once I’m off it, I’ll be much more aware of whether my fears are logical or just something stemming from anxiety.

A lot of the time, we do not see the link between physical and mental health, but there is actually a really strong connection between the two; positive, passionate and mentally strong people are always the ones to get out of health problems the quickest, and is something I dismissed up until now.



From The Heart

I haven’t posted anything for over a month – a result of several factors, I guess. In terms of significance, the two main reasons would be that I spent three quarters of this time lying on a beach in Greece, and the fact that I didn’t really know what to write about. You see, I’ve been pretty busy, but not necessarily in the best way. Apart from my (not-so) little vacation, things have been slightly…tricky?

The saying “not everything will go according to plan” is a popular one, yet we don’t always fully acknowledge it every time we make those plans. In our mind, everything seems logical and perfect – you take the following steps to obtain the following goals. But life is a messy, messy thing – for some more than others.

As far as I know, the majority of us have things we don’t wish to talk about, especially in detail, which is why we prefer to hide them from the world and build a much happier image of ourselves. However, this can be pretty detrimental since we end up feeling like only we are the ones who are going through some sort of mess, when in reality, very few people are as happy as they look in their Instagram pictures. Promise.

I’m less tolerant to discomfort; when things go wrong, I complain. No, it’s not because I’m ungrateful, but because I don’t think it’s necessary to try and hide normal human reactions. Listening to others’ advice can be good, but when my mum occasionally mentions that “things could be much worse” I can’t help but get slightly irritated. Following the logic, you should also consider that things could be much better, which is something I strive for. However, I also continue doing what I initially planned to do, since the universe is not about to wait for some 20-year-old female from a small country to sort her issues.

Life is hard, life is messy, and life loves to fuck you over sometimes. And the funniest part is that, until we die and see (or not) what the last several decades have been all about, we will never know why some individuals tend to get luckier, and some don’t. In my culture, it is a social sin to refer to yourself as “unlucky”, since there are always people who have it way worse. Also, many people are scared to refer to themselves as such, mainly because they think they will genuinely become unlucky.

If luck could be measured on a scale, I honestly don’t know where I would place myself. Since this is purely subjective, I don’t know whether it is an accurate assessment of the current state of affairs. I know that one’s quality of life depends on how much effort they put in, and I know for a fact that I put in a lot of effort. But there are also a lot of things that keep going sideways: from work, to health, to people, to general little unpleasant surprises. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very far from depressed, since I’ve got a lot to appreciate and a lot to look forward to. Not depressed or sad, just slightly tired. In fact, the problems I mentioned above are somewhat manageable; they just require dedication and patience. I guess I’m in the process of accepting that everything is always much more picturesque in our head; we see an empty highway instead of what is actually there – a long, winded maze.


I Know That I Don’t

Most people come to a point in their lives where they are no longer sure of who they are, what they want and what the future holds. I like to refer to it as the 20-something crisis; a more optimistic version of the mid-life crisis, during which people seem to forget “how to life” for a period of time. In spite of the fact that being unsure is a perfectly natural state of mind, our society is very unforgiving towards those who express reasonable doubt.

Not knowing what to do is somehow unacceptable in the 21st century. I mean, how can one NOT KNOW what they are striving towards? So many resources! So much support! So much good (although standardized) education! So when successful stockbroker Jordan’s teenage daughter comes home from school one day and says “Dad, I’m not sure what I want to study at college”, it is likely that she will receive the following answer: “Don’t be silly honey, you’ve always wanted to study finance!” (cheers to anyone who got the reference)

However, doubting earlier ideas is definitely not silly – it’s a sign of a healthy rational thought process. The problem lies in how we see the concept of knowledge itself, and how that affects the way in which we perceive the sentence “I don’t know”. Theoretically, knowledge is a very factual concept, based on information which can be tested for validity. We know that the earth revolves around the sun; that a year has 365 days; that plants photosynthesize and so on. So when we are unaware of certain facts, we perceive it as a gap in our knowledge.

But here’s the problem – not all knowledge is factual and unchanging (not to mention that “facts” often change throughout the years themselves). So what we think we “know” concerning who we are, what we want and what the future holds is, in fact, a vague idea. It’s okay to “not know”, because you never really knew in the first place anyway.