After being terrified to go on a tour with the higher ups in my company (like the CEO), I made a discovery. I have anxiety. Like big, shitball anxiety. And I need professional help. I get claustrophobic, I want total control over situations.
I forgot that once upon a time, I did things like sat in a classroom ALL DAY, did field trips, rode a bus every day, spent hour around people, did things I didn’t want to do, and was OK.
Sometime after becoming an adult I slowly made my world smaller. I cocooned into more of what was comfortable, but I forgot all that I used to know how to do. I used to do LOTS of things.
I flew on an airplane alone when I was ten. I traveled around Europe with a girl I barely knew (who became my best friend) in college. Those things have felt virtually impossible the last couple years.
Going on a tour with the CEO and friends also felt impossible. I was so worried about having a panic attack in front of them. It’s like some part of me wants to expose that I am actually a phony, that I am incompetent and not good enough. So I’m afraid I might panic when I’m put in situations that bring those feelings up.
I HAD to go on the tour, or basically consider quitting my job. I’ve also been told they might want me to travel and talk to more CEOs in other states. To which I thought “I guess I’ll wait and quit then.” All of this caused me so much anxiety I did something I haven’t done before.
I took half a Xanax. I’ve had it since 2011, but only took 1/2 a pill one time while in bed. This time IT WAS AMAZING. I can’t believe that stuff is legal.
I took it last night while at my boyfriend’s parents house first to see how I’d feel on it. I did it totally as an experiment. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever been around them. I made conversation, was loud and funny, and even said a social faux pas to my boyfriend’s step dad about a particular football player. This actually turned the night into a very silly event with some great conversations.
I WASN’T WORRYING about anything. Instead of stopping myself from doing or saying things, I let them out. It felt so freeing. I didn’t realize how much I worry. It is CRAZY! I didn’t care if I was late to get to bed. I was fine turning the car around to get something we forgot. I was just in the present moment. With NO anxiety.
I got into bed and fell asleep, still in this bliss. Then I woke up and it kind of felt like I’d been punched in the gut. The emotions in the pit of my stomach were back — kind of a dull ache. It was like coming down from a high or something. I didn’t realize how much that dull ache is my normal.
The reason I did the experiment was because today was the tour with the CEO and friends. So I loaded up my car to drive to the tour site and decided I should definitely take a Xanax for it. I was really glad I did. Otherwise, I would have been a wreck trying to hold myself together.
But it’s like I forgot. I forgot what it’s like to feel normal –– without feeling overwhelmed by the world. I forgot what it’s like to not be anxious all the time. I forgot what it’s like to just learn something, enjoy the day, and have lunch with people (what a concept). I felt NO overwhelm. It was astounding. I didn’t realize that this is probably how many people feel every day. I honestly can’t believe it. It was like spending the day in someone else’s body.
This stuff would have been a game changer on trips I’ve taken over the years, hesitation to go on airplane rides to visit family, and so much more… I just never wanted to take it. I never thought I needed something like it. Instead, it has opened my eyes. It has helped.
Taking a deep breath… it makes me realize why I’ve felt again like, “oh I should just kill myself” when I start feeling hopeless because this is a HEAVY emotional load. Lots of other people don’t have that or even understand it. They don’t live with that. They feel anxious, and let it go. When I feel anxious I blow it up. And it feeds on itself and gets bigger. I wonder if maybe that is how I felt when I was a kid. Just able to cope with whatever was put in front of me. I didn’t have a choice back then. There wasn’t an exit strategy other than my bedroom.
You can get used to anything. I know this. If I had to go on a tour with the CEO and friends every day I would get used to it and comfortable with it. But right now everything is new and hard. I’m not able to spend my day at coffee shops or lying in bed.
As I drove away from the tour , about six hours had passed and the Xanax was soon to wear off. I was still feeling amazing and baffled that I had spent that much time around people and I could easily have done another tour. I had NO FEAR. No overwhelm. No exhaustion (by the way, this is just my personal experience — I’ve heard Xanax can make you tired AND it can be addictive).
As I drove I noticed my emotional center — my stomach — start to wake up again. I felt a little sad. Honestly, it was like coming off a major drug. I felt more sad and cried and then felt OK again. This stuff is hard core.
So here’s the thing with Xanax. Because it helped me so profoundly, I probably needed it. I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t tried it. The right thing to do with it is use it occasionally to learn how to cope with new situations. To gain confidence and get through difficult or scary situations.
I wrote this a few weeks ago. I haven’t had a Xanax since, but I used how it felt to help me feel more confident in social situations — and it has helped remembering how I felt on it. I’m also taking a slightly higher dose of another SSRI drug (the generic for Celexa, which is $4 at Walmart). I’m totally OK with doing this because I realize now that having extreme anxiety and feeling depressed isn’t normal or healthy.
I would encourage anyone to try things out and be open. You never know what can help. You never know what is out there. You never know…. don’t give up.