Another nervous breakdown

Once again, I wake up in a sweat. It’s the third time tonight since attempting to get a rare full eight hours of sleep. I try my best to throw out the recurring thoughts in my head, but they just won’t budge. It’s 3:45 a.m.

After constant rustling under the covers trying to get comfortable, I give up. As usual, I let my anxiety get the best of me. I turn on my lamp and reach for my notebook to begin writing another list of pros and cons based on the usual question: “What are you thinking about and what should you be thinking right now?”

The cons side of the list always towers over the pros, until I cross off those that don’t directly affect me. I look over the revised list, until I feel satisfied with what I wrote. Putting myself back in the now rather than in the future, I dry my tears, turn off my lamp and try to get some sleep.

Eventually, I wake up, get dressed and brush my teeth. When I head downstairs to make my lunch and pack my backpack, I have one extra priority in my routine: the medicine cabinet.

I reach for my Fluoxetine, three green and white pills, each about the size of a jelly bean, containing 20 milligrams of white powder and then wash it down with a glass of chocolate milk.

After six years of routinely taking my anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) medication, it’s not something I think about. It’s a habit, similar to an addiction. If I don’t take it, I feel like my whole world is upside down. I shake, I sweat, I cry.

My OCD doesn’t help with this. It’s the main reason I get these thoughts in my mind, they trigger my initial anxiety. It makes me concerned about the little things–what type of pen to use for my notes, how I organize my dresser, what time I get to class. OCD keeps me on edge and in need of structure. If I don’t have a schedule planned daily, it just opens up more time for OCD and anxiety to invade. Even when I take my pills.

Although these capsules help, they can’t solve all of my problems. With all the stress from homework and everything else in life, I’m still bound to worry. Especially when it comes to school, thanks to AP and Honors courses. On top of the hours I spend completing homework and practicing baritone, there’s always unaccounted time spent worrying. Some nights, it’s just 10 minutes and other nights, it’s over an hour. Either way, it prevents me from falling asleep at a decent time.

Before I was prescribed Fluoxetine, I was an even bigger mess. I couldn’t be away from my house for long periods of time. I could barely leave my mom. I remember waving goodbye to her as I boarded my first flight alone in sixth grade to visit family in Texas. Once the plane took off, I cried and vomited. My trip was cut a week and a half short and two days later I flew back home.

Relying on a medication scares me. What if I go on a long-term vacation and forget my medicine? What if my doctor doesn’t write me another prescription? Some days I feel like the medication is more hurtful than helpful. Despite how it does help me, it holds me back in a lot of ways.

Because I take it, I feel as if I’m a circle surrounded by squares, or a bike on a highway of cars. I know I’m not the only one (survey results), but I sense myself being this “odd one out” when I’m surrounded by confident colleagues who don’t even have to worry about their futures.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the medicine, but that’s not the only component to my changed mindset. Relying on myself and controlling my thoughts is the only way I can conquer this beast called anxiety. It is my mind and I have control over it. At least I like to think that. But I had to get help from others.

My therapist, whom I have not seen in over two years now, always aided me in recovery. When I was around her, I felt comfortable enough to express my thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, the doctor that prescribes my medication, does not give off the same vibes. Whenever I tell her something is wrong or bothering me, she has the same suggestion every time: up my dosage. But that won’t help.

Thankfully, however, my parents give me unconditional love and support, despite my personal issues. They offer a shoulder to cry on or talk with, no matter the time or place. This may seem childish, but people don’t understand anxiety is not something I can magically change. I’m tired of hearing, “Your anxiety is really aggravating,” or “Oh, just don’t worry.” If I could stop or make it less of an issue, I would. It doesn’t work that way.

Anxiety has shaped me into the person I am today. To have concern for myself and others, to think about the little things, to decide how I want my life to play out. At times these worries are like oceans, blocking my way from swimming to the other side. With the help of myself and others I can build structured bridges that get me safely across in the end.