Look up images for anxiety and three basic images appear: grabbing ones head, biting nails, or running away. And although those behaviors can be associated with anxiety, gasping for air is far more prevalent in the patients I’ve seen with severe anxiety and is the symptom I grapple with the most with C/PTSD. Like, I have to stop right now, bend over wherever I am — and suck in as much air as I can get, as I struggle to calm my heart palpitations.
I switched to a new doctor recently who doesn’t understand anxiety, let alone C/PTSD no matter my trying to explain it to him. He didn’t care to look at my dosage and frequency. All he was concerned with was my being on anti-anxiety meds over a six month period and telling me that I was addicted now and would need to go to a clinic to get off of them. I was like, “No, I’m not, and I don’t think so!”
I cried on the way home. I told my husband how furious I was that a lifetime of abuse/trauma creates illnesses from anxiety to gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune disorders to cancer in survivors, and yet perpetrators could not care less and are out living their best lives. That we get traumatized once again as we look for help and a doctor that gets it. And I was absolutely furious that I was referred to as “addicted.”
I vented in my art journal and wept some more. I wrote a letter to the pharmaceutical company for creating something with side- effects so bad that you can’t take it long term, to my original prescribing doctor who didn’t take me off it sooner, to the pharmacist who kept filling it and said nothing, and to my current doctor for being so dismissive of me. I peeled the label from its bottle and plastered it on the page and wrote, “Addicted” “Addict” across the page. I also wrote the words: accountable, balance, authentic, stable, consistent, secure, integrity, responsible, connected, solid. All the things I am and have been to myself and those I care about regardless of my anxiety-C/PTSD diagnosis.
Then, I set about weaning myself off my very, teeny, tiny dose of anti-anxiety med and I even included my anti-depressants for good measure. I’m on Day 55 of no medication and because my dose was so small, I really don’t see a difference without them; especially since I only took them at bedtime.
I didn’t like the way the doctor was dismissive of me considering his lack of knowledge about my condition and his inability to try to understand or even learn. But, I was happy to find my old self who is just bitchy, bold, and ballsy enough to want to prove this douchebag wrong and come off my meds. Without the debilitating side-effects he said I’d have and without a clinic. And even more meds to get off those meds! – What a vicious cycle they want to keep you in! No thanks!
I am writing this because I am short of breath today. I’m not doing much of anything that would cause me to be short-of-breath but I know it’s anxiety sneaking up and clobbering me with its fists, like it has my entire life. And, I will just have to stop, and draw in a breath as deeply as I can and then keep going, like I did for over four decades prior to getting anti-anxiety meds.
And, this whole thing got me thinking of the word, “addicted.” The only thing I’ve ever been addicted to was creating a loving family of my own and being the best I could be for them. Having everybody be happy and healthy. To laugh and have fun. To get along. That’s it. Not too much to ask? 🤷🏻♀️
My sense of humor reminds me that shortness-of-breath is abbreviated S.O.B. in nursing documentation. I giggle and remind myself that I can’t let the SOB’s get me down as I once again stop. And try to breathe.