Like many of you, just a few short years ago, my life was defined by anxiety. Anxiety had become for me a constant companion. It was there when I woke, followed me through my day, and kept me from going to sleep at night. I had been on high doses of a benzodiazepine for many years and had gotten to a point where even the highest recommended dose did not help anymore.
It was during this time that my life was changing drastically. I had been working very hard on the other elements of my combined mental illnesses, and so far, my depression and psychosis had been improving, and, this is important, how I defined “abnormal” was also changing.
I’ve always had an active and busy mind, even as a child. I started writing when I was young, so I had a place for all the ideas my brain was constantly churning out to live. When the anxiety and depression got to be too much for me, I eventually got the help of a psychiatrist. During the years, I talked to many of my doctors about my non-stop mind, and eventually, as doctors are known to do, several of them decided my thoughts needed to be medicated away. You see, the people who talked to me in my mind were bad, and I had “racing thoughts.” I had never thought of the voices in my head as bad, but these were doctors, so they must know what they were talking about and what they were doing.
I was medicated many decades before I realised what this medication was doing to my creativity and cognitive ability. I eventually convinced myself that hearing voices was not always abnormal, and an active mind was a sign of intelligence and not something that should be muffled. With the help of my doctors, after presenting my research and case, I dropped the levels of antipsychotic to almost nothing. Soon, I will quit them altogether.
I did the same thing with my depression. I suffered many years on antidepressants until I looked at what I did with my “psychosis” and decided with a drastic change at how I looked at my depression, I could change it. It took longer to convince my doctor that I could survive on a lower dosage, but I did and proved that I could lessen the effects of my depression with a combination of self-care, positive thinking, and change in how I looked at depression. I no longer feared the onset of depression but instead told myself that it was the workings of a normal mind. The more I framed it that way, the less it had a hold on my whole life. I did what I could to ease my depression and let my busy brain work to take my mind off the horror I was feeling. I still had depression, but it never lasted long, and it stayed away longer.
With these successes, I felt like I could do the same with my anxiety, but, as any of you who have been treated with benzos knows, they were never meant as a long-term solution. I had been on them for over 15 years. I was addicted. Badly.
Any attempt no matter how small to lessen my dosages sent me into a spiral of panic attacks, severe anxiety, and flu-like symptoms. Despite it, I have over a long time gotten myself to a very low dosage. Again, I practice self-care, deep breathing and have lowered the stress level in my everyday life. I have changed my diet and taken advice from functional medicine advocates and practitioners. I have followed much of what I read here on AnxietyBoss from my very good friend Dr. Carlo.
I still have not taken the leap to being medication-free, but I will. But, because I did does not mean it is the best choice for everyone. I did stupid things many times over, like trying to cold-turkey my pills. I finally saw the error of my ways and decided I needed professional helped backed by my own research. Never try anything without first researching it because it will end in a bad way, especially when you are dealing with your mental health.
I am saying nothing more than this: you are only limited by what you believe. I chose to believe that I was NOT limited and lived my life that way. Plus, I didn’t do it on my own. I had a great support system with my wife and parents, and my friends in the mental health community I belong to and advocate for regularly.
Do some research on your own and start thinking more positively. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have a magic pill. It takes hard work, in body and mind. It takes support. And, what I’ve found is it takes YOU to change the way you think.
Visit me at JasonWeiland.net to learn more about my journey.