What Has Helped Me… Part 1

My path to overcoming my own battles with anxiety has been a long and tough road. I’ve tried many therapies along the way. Some have worked great, some have not. I’m here to share a few of my experiences.

This past Saturday I joined a group of girls for an early morning run… something my ego wouldn’t have allowed me to do not so long ago.

Greetings. Hope everyone had a great weekend. Ours was an emotional one. Friday found us at our first Friday night football game for one of our kids. Levi and the rest of the Cuba Wildcats squad headed to Festus for their annual Jamboree facing Festus Jefferson, Crystal City, and Perryville high schools. It was awesome to see Levi out there in helmet in pads. Made me feel like my life had come full circle, as it’s been 20 years since my first Friday night experience. Levi was able to make a few tackles from his outside linebacker position, the same spot I played in my days. It’s thrilling seeing him play a game that meant so much to me growing up. I’m very excited for this year and seeing him learn and improve!

After a late night driving back from Levi’s game, Keri and I woke up Saturday morning to join some girls in town for a run. This is something Keri has been doing for quite some time now. She’s always invited me to come along, but I have never joined. I’ll be honest and say it was my ego keeping me at home on my quiet, lonely country roads on Saturday mornings while she joined her group of friends. I did not want to go to town and struggle to keep up with a group of women. My pride and ego couldn’t handle that. However, I’m proud to say that I stepped out of my familiar zone and swallowed my pride and joined the girls for a morning run. I’m so happy I did!! Even though these girls are more experienced on the roads, I did my best to keep up with them (falling behind a few times). The best part about it, in keeping up with them I was able to set a new PR for my 10K at just a minute over an hour! Goes to show when we get a little bit uncomfortable, we can do extraordinary things. Thanks to these girls for letting me tag along!!

Levi (#12) lining up from his slot receiver position. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love football. So to see one of my own under Friday Night Lights is an awesome experience to say the least!!

This weekend was not without its sad moments. On Sunday morning, while still at church, we learned of a terrible tragedy involving some local kids. A young boy lost his life in a horrific accident. Another boy is fighting for his life as a result. These were kids that have been a part of our lives since Levi has been in school They were in the same grade as him and were active in showing livestock at the county fair with us. I’ve been searching for the right way to describe how I feel about this tragedy and the only emotion I can come up with is… heartbroken. I cannot imagine how the parents of these boys are feeling today. My greatest sympathy and empathy goes out them.

I wrote last week of the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s a first line treatment in a number of behavioral health disorders, including depression and anxiety. I’ve seen the benefits from CBT in many people, including myself. I wanted to write a little bit today about some of the other methods I’ve utilized to combat my own bouts with anxiety. I’ve also written about how my journey with running and exercise has helped me with this condition.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been struggling with anxiety for about 6 years now. There have been times that the anxiety has inhibited my ability to make rational decisions. Factors such as finances, family stress, farm decisions, and work have overwhelmed me to the point of not being able to function normally. Throughout the years, I’ve found some pretty good solutions to working through this by myself and with the help of others. My hope for writing this today is that I can show that this condition, although very tough at times, is completely manageable. Also, that it is OK to be vulnerable and that one doesn’t have to keep these feelings inside. This week I’m going to spend a little bit of time on the methods I’ve found to be helpful. The first of these methods is the first I tried, medication.

Medication

The first method I utilized in my bout with anxiety was medication. This was a tough pill for me to swallow (figuratively and literally). Throughout pharmacy school and my early professional career, I felt like if there wasn’t an objective, measurable parameter to a condition, then I felt like it could not be managed. But when dealing with mental health, there are really no numbers we can refer to for a basis of treatment. I went to my PCP with these concerns and we decided that trying some medication would be a good fit for me. The medication helped me tremendously in taking the edge off. I became slower to anger and worry. I became able to think more rationally when times were tough. It seemed that the world slowed down just a bit.

This is not to say that the medication did not come with some unwanted effects. I saw my appetite increase rapidly. As a result, so did my waistline. I gained about 25 lbs within the first year of medication. To this day, I’m still working on losing this excess weight. There also was some nausea associated with taking the medication, which I often combatted with… you guessed it, food (especially starchy carbs, which obviously lead to weight gain).

Going back, I would’ve liked to first have tried CBT before medications. Now, I don’t feel like my problems were severe enough to use medications before therapy. Nevertheless, using medication truly did help me not be such an a**hole (or as big of one anyway). I’ve tried to see how I do when not taking meds by weaning off of them, only to end up back on them in a couple of weeks. I’ve also worked to managing the side effects by being more mindful of the foods I eat. Also, taking meds at bedtime allows me to sleep through the nausea I’ve experienced in the past.

Have you had any experience, good or bad, with medications for treating behavioral health disorders? What has worked? What hasn’t. Please, if you feel comfortable, share your experiences. I’d love to talk about your experiences with you, even if in private. My goal is to make sharing these stories part of our normal dialect. Please if you have something to share, reach out to me anytime

I started this blog entry today to discuss multiple ways I’ve dealt with my own anxiety. However, as I began to write, I found that each of these methods probably deserves its own post. So this week, I will be writing about all of the various methods I have used to combat my anxiety and my experiences with them. Pleased look back throughout the week and I’ll discuss these methods.

Thanks for taking the time to read today. I hope I was able to shed a little bit of light on the subject of medication use in behavioral health. If you are enjoying and want to see more of my content, please subscribe to this blog. Also, please feel free to leave some feedback on WordPress or on Facebook. If you know anyone who would enjoy this blog, please share with them.

Thanks again

Jason

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