I finally had the time, money, and energy to visit my doctor a couple of days ago. It was a super late follow-up consult since February of last year. But that first consult was a life changer for me. It was my first time being prescribed an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. Oh, the difference they made!
I call the effect the thin wall. I still have anxiety and depression but they are on the other side of that wall. I can see them, even feel them to an extent, but they cannot overcome me the way they used to. I have not had a panic attack (fingers crossed) for almost a year now. Even my insomnia was significantly lessened. I'm still not getting enough sleep due to the sheer amount of things I need to get done but when I do settle in for the night I can literally go to sleep. Before, I'd be awake until about 3-4 am, gnawed at by horrible thoughts, until pure exhaustion puts me to sleep for a couple of hours, and then the thoughts would wake me up again.
On this side of the thin wall, I can have clarity and focus to the extent that I can function more fully. I used to be frequently paralyzed by an endless battering of terror, doubt, confusion, and despair. Those things are on the other side now, still menacing, but as long as I take that half-pill in the morning I can keep them on that side.
My day job has extremely benefited from my medicated state. The thin wall helped me compartmentalize -- not rigidly but permeably -- so that I can reconcile what I do with how I live and what I believe in. It cleared my thinking just enough for me to find a balance between logic and faith, between survival and meaning, and between one kind of responsibility and another kind of responsibility.
The thin wall gives me distance and perspective, a way to separate, a safe space from which to think and act without the overwhelm. It's a shield but it is not a blinder. The reality is as it is but I am given a ground to stand on and the ability to stand my ground.
So I am really grateful for the medication, and how I finally got to it was a tough event in itself when my body just gave out from all the stress and refused to function. I had felt both thankful and terrified that I might just die. Couldn't eat, drink, sleep, or get up. Constant pain from hunger and exhaustion. I was in limbo between life and oblivion for two weeks.
My piece of advice: don't wait for your body to shut down as I did. There's only so much that will and positive thinking can do. It's ok to seek help. It's ok to accept help. Listen to your body because it tells you things in very clear terms. Gut-feeling is real. Trust yourself.