The first time I took an anti-anxiety medication was years ago when I had my first MRI to check for some neurological symptoms I was having. I had never experienced an MRI before and was extremely anxious about the thought of being in an enclosed space for such a long time. The doctor asked me if I needed to take something for anxiety and I was offered some choices of benzodiazepines.
I chose valium and while it made me feel spaced out, it didn’t take away my fear completely. It was a strange experience. My mind was still cognitively wired to feel anxiety but my body was relaxed. In memory, I felt the valium took some of the edge off but unless I was totally knocked out, it didn’t take away the fear. But it did take away some of the bodily symptoms of my anxiety.
I have always suffered from anxiety but I have never fully explored any particular remedy. I also suffer from depression and my mood disorder has always taken precedence over my anxiety. There are times, however, when anxiety seems a worse battle to fight. It is such a horrible feeling to have and it takes such a toll on your body.
Since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis my anxiety symptoms seem to have gotten worse. I am not sure if it is because of the stress over dealing with a chronic life-long medical condition or whether I am more biologically and structurally wired to be sensitive to stress. I think it may be a little of both.
It seems that nowadays my triggers for anxiety or a full blown panic attack involve a greater sensitivity to certain sensory experiences. For example, repetitive sounds or visuals can jolt my fragile wiring into the flight or fright response. Flashing lights such as car blinkers or emergency vehicles can cause my body to react with seizure like shaking and jerking on the right side of my body. I once had a bad attack when I was in a store and a fluorescent light was flickering. I felt like I was in a trance as my body reacted violently. I was fortunate to be with my family who could help me. This greater sensitivity to certain environmental stimuli has also created great anxiety for me. I now live in some fear that I will have these attacks. It is a vicious cycle because the more I fear a physical reaction, the more panic I feel. And the more panic I feel, the more I am apt to experience bodily symptoms.
Then too, my usual triggers of anxiety still remain a part of my life including my various phobias. So during one visit to my neurologist I asked about medication for anxiety. It always seems to be a difficult topic to bring up. I explained how I was feeling more anxiety lately and that it seemed to be getting worse. In addition, I would be facing a month of plane travel (one of my phobias) and speaking at conferences (yet another phobia to contend with-the fear of public speaking.) After presenting my rationale I paused before quietly asking,
“So do you have a little something I could take?”