Living With Anxiety: Your Questions Answered
It’s not always easy sharing personal stories, especially when mental health is involved. Sharing my struggle with anxiety and decision to go on medication was a risk, but I’m so glad I put it all out there. Living with anxiety isn’t easy, but it can be managed. I’ve learned that a lot of you are struggling with anxiety and wanted to answer some of the questions you asked since I shared my story.
Living With Anxiety: Your Questions Answered
What’s the difference between worry or stress and anxiety?
I talked about this here.
When did you know medication was the right thing for you? Were you afraid to start?
I’ve always lived with some level of anxiety, but it wasn’t constant or consuming. I could distract myself from the worry. But then Margot got sick and it was just too much – I couldn’t shake it. The constant multitasking at work was never good for me and I felt burned out most of the time. It was my therapist that recommended going on medication, so I would recommend talking to a therapist or doctor. I saw her for years and she never recommended medication until recently. The trauma of a cancer diagnosis and complete lack of control with this pandemic were just too much for me to deal with on my own.
I was a little worried about side effects but knew I needed something to get through the harder blocks of Margot’s treatment, but everything sort of hit me this year when I stepped down from The Everygirl. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and it still feels really difficult for a number of reasons.
Did you experience any side effects from medication?
Fortunately, I did not experience any side effects when I went on or off my medication. I took it for a short time during Margot’s hardest block of treatment and then stopped. I started to feel anxious again and went back on at the advice of my therapist, but I knew it was time. I do not recommend going on or off medication without talking to your doctor. What worked for me might not work for you.
How did you find a therapist?
My therapist is actually my good friend’s therapist. She recommended her back in 2017 when I was going through some stuff, and we instantly clicked. Ask people you know for recommendations, but know it’s hard to find someone you connect with. It’s as bad/hard has dating.
How long until you felt better on medication?
The meds took the edge off. I still worry, but it’s not nearly as consuming as it was. I started to feel less anxious within a week.
Thoughts on CBD to relax?
I think it’s great. I’d recommend starting with this.
Do you get physical symptoms of anxiety?
Not really. Just anxious thoughts.
Do you suffer from panic attacks?
How do you cope with obsessive thoughts?
Therapy. Distracting myself with the girls, a show, blogging, and cleaning/organizing.
How do you cope with the unknown?
This is something I’m working on in therapy. I try to stay in the moment and most of the time, I do, but sometimes, it hits me. There are certain things I’m fine with but not knowing what side effects Margot might have down the line and even the tiniest percent chance of relapse can feel like a lot at times. I tell myself that we’ve done everything we can, I remember the messages from women who went through treatment for ALL 20+ years ago and are now happy and healthy. There is so much hope. That’s what I hold on to.
Have you been able to talk with close friends about it?
Yes. I am on open book with my friends and don’t really keep secrets from them. If I’m feeling something, they know about it. I don’t talk to most of my friends as often as I used to and everyone’s got their stuff, so some don’t really want to talk at all right now. It’s been a hard year. The ones I’m closest with I talk to but we’re in the same boat of going through a lot and not having as much time to connect. But yes, I’m able to talk with friends when I talk to them.
How do you let your significant other know what’s going on without freaking them out?
I don’t keep any of this from my husband so my advice would be to build a relationship on open and honest communication. When you’re in it for the long haul with someone, you’re going to go through all of life’s ups and downs together. You both need to be able to share how you’re feeling. I have my friends, too, and turn to the ones I’m closest with, but I’m not really worried about freaking Conor out.
Role a spouse plays in managing anxiety?
Again, open communication. Let your spouse or partner know what would be helpful. We all communicate differently, so it’s really important that your person knows what will work best for you.
How can I help someone struggling with anxiety?
When someone you care about is going through anything, the best thing you can do is show up. Let them know you’re thinking of them, say hi, offer to chat. Just be a support. If it’s someone you’re really close to, they should know you’re there to listen, and ask if there’s anything you could say or do that might help when they’re feeling anxious. I’ve never asked my friends for anything, but talking through what’s going on always helps. It’s also nice to talk about anything and everything else, too.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, please seek professional help, and know it’s ok to talk to your friends and family about what you’re going through. If you have any more questions for me, please leave them in the comments below.