After four weeks of consecutive hospital visits, countless CT scans, EKGs, and blood tests, my doctor told me that my mental health disorder was so severe that it could only be controlled through medication.
I was immediately placed on Ativan, a medication used to treat anxiety, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was finally in control of my life. Any time I felt anxious, I’d just take a pill. It seemed simple enough.
Unfortunately, my body built up a tolerance pretty quickly. All of a sudden my 0.5 milligrams twice daily turned into three per day, which then turned into two at a time, which progressed to six per day, and frequently went as high as eight pills a day.
My fears had now drastically shifted. I was no longer just afraid of having an anxiety attack but was now petrified by the idea of what my life would be like without medication. My fear and trepidation, coupled with my disorder and a drug addiction, led me down a path of alcohol abuse and a subsequent overdose. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of damaging behaviors with no sensible means of escape. Or so I thought.
Following my overdose and a few more weeks of excessive drinking, I finally committed to an entire lifestyle overhaul. My children needed their father, and if I was going to save my life, I needed to change it first.
So I stopped eating dairy, cut out red meat and processed foods, eliminated refined sugars, and even went vegan for a few weeks. I found contentment in discovering my own personal trinity of wellness: yoga, meditation, and fruit/vegetable juicing.
After about a year of consistency in this new lifestyle, I eventually had my anxiety under control and was able to get off all medication.
This process taught me that anxiety is not something that can be eradicated; it’s something that needs to be managed. It's not a weakness or anything anyone should shy away from. It is simply our body's way of communicating with us, and it’s up to us to interpret what it’s saying.
Overcoming it is not as simple as just thinking positively or pretending that it doesn’t exist. The road to recovery is one to be traveled daily, but it all starts with the belief that you are stronger than your disorder. It took me a few years to discover my strength, but once I did, anxiety became more of a distant relative rather than my greatest enemy.