Mental distress is a hell of a thing, isn’t it?

I have lived with major anxiety issues my entire life. I was a very fearful child. If I heard about any scenario that was dangerous or terrifying, I was 100% convinced it would happen to me. I’m not sure where that kind of anxiety begins, because outside of growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s when we could run free without the fear of being snatched off the street by a stranger, I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of dangerous scenarios. All things considered, my parents did a pretty good job of keeping me out of harm’s way. However, I still somehow managed to grow accustomed to feeling as though the worst possible outcome was always headed my way. And today, I realized that ugly feeling was still there. Lurking just under the surface and waiting for the most inopportune moment to say hello.

You see, the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving, I had a feeling that I can only technically describe as “wonky.” I had long moments of lightheadedness, I was getting frequent headaches, I tossed and turned because I couldn’t get comfortable when I slept. I couldn’t concentrate on different projects that I wanted to work on in my free time. I wound up spending a majority of my Thanksgiving break from both work and school in front of a television watching episodes of This Is Us instead of turning the extra garage room into my home office like I had wanted to. Quite simply because I just didn’t have the energy to do much else. I’ve suffered from headaches often but the lightheadedness and inability to sleep or concentrate seemed like recent developments that are listed as possible issues related to the anxiety medication that I’ve been taking for about a year now. And while I do feel like the medication helped me remain calm and collected in work and social situations that would otherwise make me a bundle of nerves, I wasn’t convinced that I was getting a lot of benefit from it otherwise.

So over this last weekend, I made the very stupid decision to completely stop taking it. I wanted to see if my headaches and sleeplessness would go away. And sure enough, they did! I was blessed with an incredibly long and comfortable REM cycle on Tuesday night that I didn’t even want to wake up from in order to go to work. But today at work, I felt that mental distress all over again in a very real way. It took just one, off-handed comment that wasn’t even meant the way I took it to set everything in motion in my brain. It practically woke me up with feelings of dread, discomfort, worthlessness, and general sadness. A short while after lunch this afternoon, I even had to excuse myself to go to the restroom in order to lock myself in a bathroom stall and cry. I don’t recall having cried in a public place since I was a child! What was happening to me???

This is why I had been engaging in the passive act of popping a pill every night before bed. This is the demon I’ve been silently battling. The demon that sits in my brain and tricks and deceives me into believing lies. He makes me believe that I’ll fail, that I’m worthless, and that everything is in vain. He makes me think I’m weak and ugly and annoying. That I’m too “extra” or that people perceive me in a light that I don’t want to be seen. He makes all of us that he attacks think that everyone’s talking badly about us or that everything would be better if we were gone. We doubt ourselves and we doubt our relationships to others. It divides and conquers us. We wonder if we should run away and start a new and different life. For those this evil impacts the most, they even contemplate ending life.

I’ve started my medication again and won’t be stopping it without consulting my doctor first. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m back on the road to recovery this weekend. With a memorial that I’ll be attending tomorrow, it’ll be a rough one to get through. Thankfully, I was grounded enough to at least realize what was happening to me and how I needed to fix it. There are so many others who never make it out of this. For whom these feelings are 24/7. If you know someone that might apply to, please be kind to them and help them. Understand that they aren’t looking for attention or trying to make things about them.

Your support just might mean the world to them.

Author: Joseph Black

According to Wikipedia, I discovered magnesium and carbon dioxide, so that's something.

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