For years I was medicated for a condition I didn’t have; anxiety. What went undetected was two things; a sleeping disorder and the fact that I react very badly to psychiatric medications. This didn’t come out until later when I was put on Clonazapam for the sleeping disorder and began seeing shadows moving toward me (think of the movie “Ghost”). The logical part of my brain made the connection that the Clonazapam was bad for me. The other half of my brain enjoyed the trip.

After I was taken off the medications and put on Melatonin (thank the gods for herbals) I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole. Nothing was as it should be. I didn’t get random anxiety attacks anymore. I didn’t feel like throwing up when I went grocery shopping. The sheer terror of day to day life was gone. When you live with something like that long enough, it becomes normal, even expected. Then when it’s gone, suddenly as in my case, there’s a gaping hole where your life used to be. Don’t get me wrong. Life is far better this way, but the lack of anxiety has presented me with a problem.

When you have anxiety, or any other psychiatric disorder, you learn to cope with day to day life using certain tricks and behaviours. Take away the anxiety and the behaviours remain. They don’t go away easily. So, when I was coping with anxiety the behaviours helped and even made sense. Being shy when you’re dealing with heart-stopping terror on a moment-to-moment basis makes sense. Being shy when you don’t, doesn’t. I’m normally a gregarious person. I actually like people and like being around people. However, I have learned a behaviour; being shy. So that behaviour and my gregarious nature collide. The result is frustration for me and the people I deal with and then I get cranky.

I’ve been told to “just get over it”. “Move on”. Okay. How? I’d like to make an interjection here. If you’re one of those people who give unsolicited advice, no matter how well-meaning, I’d like to make a request. Stop it. Your advice could be the best, most sound advice in the world. It may have come to you directly from the divine. Stop it. Those of us who are victims of your well-meaning intentions get confused when we need to do things our own way. You aren’t helping, you’re confusing. So unless someone has asked you for advice directly, just shut up.

Back to the topic at hand. So how do you live a life where you have anxiety behaviours but not the anxiety? How do you unlearn years of damage? One step at a time, usually, but it’s not easy. I have friends who are willing to stand silently by and let me struggle. They offer their support and know how important it is that I do this on my own. It’s hard for them sometimes to watch and do nothing but they understand.

A large part of my life was stolen from me when the doctor decided to medicate me and not listen to everything I was telling him. Anxiety needs medication. That’s a fact. Or is it? Is medication right for everyone? Is it okay to blanket everyone with the same medication knowing our individual biologies are different and what may work for one person may be a horrific mistake for another? I don’t think so.

I’m still re-learning how to live. How to be a whole human being in this new world without anxiety. Yes, stress brings a certain amount of anxiety, but I’m learning to cope with that. I want my life back. My life before the medication and the madness. I can’t have it. It’s gone. So what now?