This past weekend Stephanie and I flew to my home of Northern Virginia. We had a really lovely weekend and it was one of the best trips home I’ve had in a while. My mom turned 59 and my grandad turned 91 so there was definitely a bit to celebrate. I took Stephanie to her first Washington Nationals game (although we didn’t get to sit together) and introduced her to Maryland blue crabs (she was not impressed). All in all, an excellent Memorial Day Weekend.
While we have done the drive to DC before, that adventure is really saved for longer trips. Which meant for this particular three-day voyage we would be flying. I used to love flying. Like genuinely love it. Going through security, finding a fun airport restaurant, drinking before the flight, hoping to make friends with my seat mate…all of it felt kind of poetic (yes, I do feel like a douche bag for typing that but I stand by the sentiment). I would say up until about 2014; that’s the first time I can remember getting anxious (I got a tad anxious on a flight in 2013 coming back from London but it was in the ninth hour so honestly that seems totally reasonable. Stop judging me).
Now when I fly, I have to say over and over, “I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Nothing bad is happening.” And I check my phone repeatedly to see how much time is left. I sit in the aisle seat so I can watch the flight attendants because if they’re calm, I should be calm. Basically what I’m saying is that in the past three years I turned into the absolute worst. And I don’t understand why it happened, why I developed this sort of claustrophobia. It’s not even that I’m afraid of crashing (the very stereotypical fear), I’m afraid of being stuck in the air and not being able to go elsewhere. Like what if I get sick? Or have a heart attack? Or the air gets too thin and something happens with my lungs? Or it’s been 5 hours and I simply don’t want to be in the air anymore? And I’m just stuck. It’s irrational and I can recognize it but I literally can’t talk myself down. Or I can, but only for a couple of hours. Which means I officially determined after this weekend that I will need a xanax when we fly to Alaska. A tiny, pretty little pill and maybe also a portable DVD player to keep me distracted.
And despite everything I just said about being so anxious I threw up during take off (hmm…forgot to mention that, didn’t I?), I have some slightly exciting news. For the past 8 months (give or take a month), I have been taking Lexapro to help calm my nerves. It helped me a shit ton (as did the end of wedding planning) and made my life so much easier once I got on it. But as of a week ago, I have completely tapered myself off and, despite the flying, I feel really great. I support brain meds 100% and I know there are people in this world that cannot function without them and while I’m not looking to add anything to my mental health plate, I wouldn’t be against needing forever medication should anything new ever arise because I can absolutely recognize the benefits.
Some pills, however, come with side effects. And while I have been mostly unscathed during this time, there have been a few teeny things that have come up that I consider problematic (cough stunted libido cough cough — sorry fam). And if I can go off my meds and still feel okay, then I’d prefer to do that. And so far so good! I have an open mind, so I’m not opposed to going back on should I need to. But currently I’m feeling really proud of myself for trying to tackle my anxieties head on. Since moving to the mountains, I’m really beginning to feel like myself again. Which reminds me of a song. Next to Normal is hands down my favorite play and also happens to be incredibly relevant to this post. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out! I read the script whilst listening to the soundtrack and have now seen it twice. And at least for now, listen to “I Miss the Mountains”.
And even though I’m no longer taking daily antidepressants, I still have backup pills, because you just never know when the crazy is going to strike (I use “crazy” here to describe my own anxieties, not yours. Yours are totally normal). Which means that when I travel I usually have 4-5 pill bottles on hand. Or if I happen to be sick, like this past weekend, seven. Because seven is my lucky number. And in case you were wondering, my Synthroid is my favorite pill because it’s cute and tiny and green.
you’re so cute, my favorite ginger root
[Ginger because upset stomachs…get it? In the words of Queen Bey, “Always stay relevant.” (Just kidding, she never said that…I don’t think)]
this is a year old but new to me and I cannot stop listening