I’ve been experiencing severe anxiety on and off for a few years now. It is something I work hard to manage on my own but adding on 16-going-on-17 years of Persistent Depression Disorder, sometimes I need help. This help consists of therapy (when I can afford it), support from friends and family (if I make them aware or allow them to help), and sometimes medication.
My anxiety has been acting up over the past few months and recently it begun affecting my sleep. I'm familiar with the trends from years of seeing the same cycle repeat – first it’s anxiety, then it’s insomnia; and eventually the exhaustion leaves me with no energy to keep fighting and I lose months. Given all my Circumstances of Life right now, I wanted to be prepared and take advantage of all the tools I know are available to a willing person.
I called into my GP and asked for the first available appointment. I went in and we talked, we talked a bit more, I asked for some anti-anxiety medication to help when I experience severe anxiety or help me sleep if the sleepless nights continue. Then the inquisition began.
Have I tried this medication before?
Did it help?
Do I feel like I really need it?
And so on. The questions didn’t really bother me initially. I get that they have their protocols and due diligence that they need to meet.
My doctor then tried to push melatonin instead, and I had to explain again that while my anxiety is currently at its worst when I try to sleep, it is not isolated to the night.
My doctor tried to tell me that she didn’t want to give me anti-anxiety medication because she feared it could create bad habits. She believed I should not rely on medication (specifically for the anxiety) and would not want me to rely on "a crutch".
What’s Wrong with a Crutch
That comment bugged me a lot, and it stuck with me for the next two days because what’s wrong with a crutch?
If someone broke their leg, they would secure it in a cast and ask them which crutch they would like best? An underarm crutch? Elbow Crutch? You get the idea.
Mental Illness is real. My mental Illness is real. I want to be given a crutch to keep nearby to be ready if / when the time comes. I know it’s best to master ways to self-regulate, because that way you’re always prepared. But if / when I find myself falling, I want to know that I have second parachute packed. I want to know that if I fail, I won’t crash.
So, my 15-minute consultation drew out to 45 minutes and I was eventually given the prescription I asked for. Before I left, because I am an open-minded person, I said I’d be willing to try the melatonin specifically to help with sleep before using the relaxant.
It was at this point she said that she doesn’t think that melatonin would help me slep at all. She explained that my lack of sleep is being caused by my anxiety and so melatonin wouldn’t help dull the anxiety, and it wouldn't help me to relax, and so it’s unlikely to assist with sleep.
I don’t know what I was supposed to say at that moment, but I’m sure my face showed everything I was thinking. Blurg.