Among my friends and loved ones, it’s no secret that I suffer from OCD– you know, that anxiety disorder that people without it use to make excuses for being controlling and anal (Which drives me up the wall, by the way). The thing that not many people know of, is the struggle that I’ve had in coming to terms with the fact that I’m medicated.
Zoloft is a pretty neat little pill. You take it every day, and eventually there’s enough in your system so that dealing with the anxiety that sometimes makes it hard to go into public places is a whole lot easier. In the beginning, I was okay that I was medicated. By the end of the year, I was not.
Evil little bastard, you are. (Even though you do good things)
I didn’t like having to check certain cough meds to make sure that they were okay to take when I had a cold (most of them weren’t).
I didn’t like not being able to take Advil when I had a headache.
I’m not much of a drinker, but I hated having to explain to people why I had turned down their offers with an “I can’t” instead of a”no thank you” (Which I realize I didn’t have to do, but people stop asking faster when you tell them that there’s a reason you can’t drink– welcome to the world of the university student).
I hated having to listen to people– sometimes close friends– talk to me about all of the different options and how sometimes people with medication were weak–butnotmeofcoursenotI’mthestrongestgirltheyknew they are always quick to add.
But most of all, I hated the fact that I had to rely on a little pill to make my brain and body function enough so that I could live a normal life. And they didn’t even work all that well.
By the end of the year, especially in moments of high stress, I discovered that on top of the anxiety every student gets around exam time, the one thing that was causing me the grief that the pills couldn’t counteract was my OCD itself.
The pills were treating the symptom, not the cause.
You see, then I felt silly. Of course they weren’t working all the time. I was taking a pill to calm the anxiety so that I could more easily ignore the issues that were causing it. After a few weeks of being out of school and feeling myself calm down enough to start rationalizing my way through things, I went to the doctor and explained my theory. He seemed to agree, and suggested, now that I was living in a different province, that I waited until I went back to school to go see a councilor who would help me work on attacking the root of my problem. Then, the moment I had been waiting for for months arrived: he agreed to lower my dosage so that I could begin the process of weaning off of the Zoloft.
I was proud. I was strong. I hadn’t quite beaten it, but I was getting better, and that was a total plus. Good for me.
Except it’s been about two weeks since then, and I’m back to pre-medication anxiety levels–in some cases, not all. I’ve found success in dealing with it by using exercise, and I have to be open with my family a whole lot more so they can reassure me of things that my OCD twists around and makes abnormal (which is perhaps the most frustrating part, because I feel silly and irrational and dumb). It’s exhausting, and sometimes I’m very discouraged, but I will work through this doing the best that I can.
After I excitedly informed my parents that I was coming off of the Zoloft, my mum smiled, and gently told me that if I couldn’t take it, then I could always be put back on a regular course. I laughed, because there was no way I’d do that again.
Now, I’m not so sure.
There are a variety of environmental factors I’m taking into account that could be causing the sudden surge in anxiety, and I’m going to ride out the storm for awhile longer, but some days I want to quit and call the doctor. It is on those days where I feel that I’m at my weakest. I’m embarrassed, yet again, that I may have to admit to myself that I may need medication to function. I get frustrated and beg God to take it away, to make me better so that I don’t have to deal with anything anymore. If there is one thing that’s kept me sane since my diagnosis, it’s Him. Except, he rarely ever gives me exactly what I want. That’s the thing about the Big Man Upstairs. He answers your prayers, always, but most of the time they’re in ways that you don’t expect.
Or, you know, we can just stay the way we are. That’s fine. We’ve evolved enough. At least we walk on land now.
Today, I was reading through a feed on Reddit that John Green was using to talk to fans. One of them asked about his past with anxiety, and he began to talk about his use of medication–daily and for years– combined with the exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy that I will be seeking in the next few months.
John Green. Nerdfighter, Vlog Brother, Author of some of the coolest books for young adults on the market, and on top of being active and talking to experts, he has to use medication to deal with anxiety.
It’s not because he’s weak.
And evidently, it does nothing to hamper his creative genius.
And, he’s not embarassed to talk about it.
To be honest, I’m not ready to accept the fact that I may need a little yellow pill to keep me running. But maybe there’s something okay about having to admit that I wasn’t ready in the first place. Maybe it isn’t admitting defeat.
Part of getting better is learning to listen to what your body needs. I am sick, after all. It’s not a cold– though my allergies have me wheezing up a storm, over here–but it is a brain-sickness. And sometimes, in order to cure or lessen the symptoms of a disease, or a virus, or a disorder, you need medicine.
If John Green can take his medicine, then so can I.
(If I have to admit that I need it, of course).