This one has always been a tough one for me to discuss, mostly because I’ve always grown up around old-school men who have mastered the “suck it up” type attitude. This is the way it always was, so this is the way I thought I was always supposed to think, real men don’t show emotions, real men are hard as a rock, real men don’t cry, and real men don’t discuss their problems. Sounds like a pretty shitty life, don’t you think. Now I’m not saying that men should be ultra delicate flowers, whose hearts are on their sleeves so much their shirts are caked with cholesterol plaque, I’m just saying that it is normal to have emotions and problems and to talk about them.
Over the past year or so I have learned to embrace my emotions, to talk about them, to understand that I’m not the only person who has gone through what I’m going through or what I was going through. So with that being said, I have always suffered from anxiety. Most people that know me wouldn’t guess because I come off as a pretty outgoing person. This has always been a hard subject for me to talk about because there are stigmas around things like this. I do understand that are a lot worse things from a mental spectrum than anxiety, but let me tell you, my anxiety would get to the point where it was crippling. If you have never been in a public place and had a panic attack, you wouldn’t understand. Imagine being with a large group, and suddenly your breathing picks up, it feels like someone is sitting on your chest, and your entire body starts to tingle, you go pale, and your whole body becomes a sweaty mess then for a short time you lose touch. That is a panic attack. You could have a bunch a day, or you could have one a year, then come when they feel like it, usually triggered but not always. My anxiety can go one of two ways, either social what they call SAD or general which they call GAD. I’ve recently had a pretty lousy bout that has been making me more angry than nervous, yes fantastic, I know.
The sad thing about something like anxiety, depression or any other ailment similar to these is that you don’t always realize at first what the issue is. This leads to crutches. Drinking, eating or whatever else makes you feel good. For me, I used drinking to tame the anxiety. Again, I wasn’t an alcoholic to the point of shaking when I needed a drink, but I’m pretty sure most doctors would have considered me a functional drunk. So it is what it is, you live, and you learn, but alcohol was my crutch. The sad part about booze as a crutch is it works, for the moment, until the next day when you are hungover, and your anxiety is 100% worse.
Now I want to be honest with all of you, because what’s the point in writing if you need only to tell half a story. I am a firm believer in trying to do stuff the natural way, but I am also a firm believer that if that doesn’t work, there is always medicine. I have taken an SSRI on and off for probably the past eight years, and honestly, they have been a lifesaver for me. When my anxiety is manageable without it, excellent, but when it is kicking my ass, nothing else seems to work. I currently am taking one (Lexapro), and it’s working excellent, this time though I am also working on my diet and exercise regimen as well as learning natural ways to keep myself calm and relaxed.