Monday, February 15, 2016

"You Could Try To Go Without Them"

I suffer from a few chronic maladies. I have Thyroid disease which for me means my body doesn't allow my thyroid gland to function, leaving me lethargic without daily medication. Even with medication,  my body goes through ups and downs of energy effecting my motivation and mood. Without medication, it's quite easy for me to fall into depression as a result.

I also suffer from anxiety. Think about how you might feel when you have to do something that makes you stressed, like going into a job review, or dealing with someone that you know is going to yell at you, a lot, and not in an encouraging way. Now imagine, that that feeling stays with you for days and weeks at a time, leaving you agitated, distracted, and confused because you brain won't turn off the stress, and you relive it over and over again. That's anxiety.

One of the things I've learned about middle age is that you start to think more about self preservation. When I was younger, and perhaps stronger, I willed my way through the depression and anxiety. In fact, before the thyroid disease, I'm pretty sure that exposure to constant stress exaserbated the anxiety. It was not a good way to live. I used a lot of energy just "dealing with it," and It was exhausting.

Now, that energy for me is a bit of a finite thing, I've learned to not be wasteful with the energy I have. It's changed my life. First, I extracted a lot of the stress I had before. It needed to be done, because it was literally making me sick. I started having high blood pressure, which is hereditary, but steps could be taken to lower it. For me, besides diet and excercise, which I'm working at, eliminating as much stress as possible proved to be a great strategy. I now avoid people and situations that cause me stress. And when that's not possible and that cycle begins in my brain, causing me to live it over and over again, I take medication that makes it stop, so I don't have to spend my energy for days or weeks "dealing with it." I also use a daily antidepressant, that helps me deal with the highs and lows that I go through from the thyroid disease. 

The result is I can now live a "normal," happy life. I'm not battling every day to overcome feelings of stress and anxiety. I'm doing things I enjoy and slowly but surely finding the lovely life I want. 

What prompted this entry was a recent experience I had at the pharmacy when getting a refill of my anxiety meds. I said something along the lines of being stressed and without medication and how that's a bad combo for me, and the pharmacy tech made a flippant reply of "or you could try to go without them and just deal with it." 

First, I was shocked that a health care provider could be so callouse. I doubt she would say the same thing about my thyroid medication. But then, after I was able to think about it, I realized, she doesn't get it. She doesn't get that dealing with it is not a short and easy process when your brain won't let it go. She doesn't understand that my current condition is the result of years of "just dealing with it," and it wore me down and robbed me of the person I truly am. She doesn't get that mental illness leads to physical illness, and that taking medication is dealing with it, just like making major life changes is dealing with it, and eating better is dealing with it, and avoiding stressful people and situations is dealing with it. 

I've come a long way dealing with it. And I admit, I still have hard days, but now they are just hard days, not weeks or months at a time, because I've taken a lot of steps and made a lot of effort to deal with it in a thoughtful and effective way. 

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