Looking back, I was an anxious child, sometimes shy and quiet but afraid to step out and take a chance. I thought I was unique in this, but I’ve recently read that I wasn’t. Perhaps my problem only had to do with needing encouragement, but I have learned to sometimes live without it and still prosper.
Eleven years ago, my husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and our world fell apart. We were shaken and turned upside down, it seemed. Of course, my husband had the hardest part and still does, but I’ve been right there with him.
My own health started to wane, so I asked my then doctor for something for anxiety. Contrary to what some may say, the anxiety medicine did help me – a lot. My well-being moved back to healthy; I helped make financial and physical decisions with steady reactions that continue to help us to this day. The medicine helped keep me steady at work and home.
Now, things have changed, my husband is feeling better than he did eleven years ago, and I am retired from my day job. My children are stable, and my current worries have to do with book sales and public speaking. I’m not that worried about book sales, as much as some authors are, because I have a pension. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. got a C for a speech in college but went on to give a highly regarded, well-known speech. Practice helps everyone, even me.
Recently, I went to see my doctor for my yearly checkup. I talked to her about changing my anxiety pill to one that had less side effects for seniors. She had me fill out a long check list involving depression and anxiety. After an additional conversation she helped me see that my anxiety was within normal limits and concluded that I didn’t need the medicine anymore. She cancelled the medication in my presence, saying that my medicine wasn’t meant to be used lifelong.
The weaning off the medicine can be the hard part, I understand. As directed, I went to a half dose immediately and then lesser amounts as time passed. I went to the pharmacy and bought some seasick pills to steady my stomach and the checker said, “Looks like you’re going on a cruise.” Hardly, but the seasick pills do help my stomach on occasion. A nap helps, too, and telling those that live with you what you’re doing.
At the same time, I came across an article in last April’s Family Circle magazine by Lisa Damour, PhD, titled Talking About. The psychologist said that most of the anxiety our kids experience is the healthy and normal kind. Anxiety can help kids be safe; it can help them sense if something is wrong. She says to try on worst case scenarios with your child (and yourself, I say). Also, anxiety in daughters is different than in sons. Boys may act out while girls have been known to share some of their concerns, yet I was silent and somehow survived.
The bottom line is, that over time I have learned to judge a scenario and step out and take chances. Yet, I think my belief in God and seeing the good that comes with the bad in life has helped me be more proficient at that.I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes. “If you fixate on the worst-case scenario, and it actually happens, you’ve lived it twice – Michael J. Fox