Day 3: What treatment or coping skills are most effective for you?
I started originally with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a fantastic psychologist between my home and work. I didn’t want to do medication because I’ve been on a few other drugs when I was on a quest to rid myself of migraines and I always felt so awful when I was on them. I was afraid that going on something that would have an effect on my brain function like the other drugs did, would put me back in that place again. However, after about 7 months of making progress but struggling, I decided that I needed to give myself the option of medication. I discussed it with my therapist and she was on board. I went to my general practitioner, armed with my records from my therapist, and we decided to start with Zoloft. I started it on August 1st (easy to remember) and have increased the dosage only once so far. It has really been helping in keeping my anxiety lower so that I can work through my issues. When I’m not battling my brain all day long, I can focus on other, more important things. It’s been a lifesaver. She also gave me Ativan for when I have panic attacks or when I know I’m going to be in a highly stressful situation that might trigger my OCD. So far, I’ve only taken it when I really truly needed it and it has helped in bringing me back down much more quickly than I could on my own. (Just a sidebar, panic attacks are terrifying. If you’ve never had one, hope you never have to experience the absolute terror of your own mind.) I still see my therapist every two weeks, faithfully, and I have been working through issues much more calmly.
In addition to my CBT and medication, I find that awareness is really key. Knowing that I’m going into a situation that might trigger me, like a new restaurant, helps me to focus on staying calm. And during those times when I do get myself worked up into a heightened anxious state, I’ve gotten better at finding ways to deal. For example, Jimmy Buffett is one of my favorite artists (I am what you call a “Parrothead”) and his music has this strange calming effect on me. I can get lost in the familiar lyrics and laid-back island tune and it helps to bring me back down. I also find that taking a walk to remove myself from the situation helps immensely. And of course, breathing like I’m the big bad wolf trying to blow down the houses of the 3 little pigs.
Obviously, these things work for me and may not work for everyone else. I think that’s the hardest part – if you knew what worked, everyone would easily follow the directions to feel better. But since the experience is individual to each person, you have to find those answers and unfortunately, the search can be long and arduous. I have been very lucky to have as much success as I’ve had in just 9 short months. People can suffer for years and years before they find a treatment plan that works for them.
Feel free to comment below on what works for you. Thanks!