A love letter to my anti-anxiety medication

When I was 27, I felt bad all the time.

Every morning I woke up with hot flushes of anxiety, as if I was drinking boiling tea. I had a feeling of panic during the day: if a car honked, I jumped; if my boss screamed, I would cry in the bathroom. The friends still seemed vaguely mad at me, although they insisted they weren’t. I was convinced that my boyfriend would suddenly stop loving me and leave. Even simple decisions – to go for a walk, when to call my mother – overwhelmed me. At night, I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, my mind a big scribble.

“You should talk to a doctor about anti-anxiety medication, my colleague Quinn once suggested, as we were having lunch at a cafe near our Soho office. “You are so excited.” She witnessed it daily. My colleagues called me “Princess and the Beep” because I jumped when a phone rang or someone coughed. And I had just confessed to her that the night before, on my way to see my boyfriend for a movie, my nerves were so high that I had walked into a bar, ordered a glass of white wine and had it. swallowed.

“It doesn’t have to be like that,” she said, laying her hand on mine. I nodded but remained uncertain. Would taking mediation mean I was officially insane? What if I took medication and I was no longer myself? What if I fell into a zombie fog? What if it dulls my creativity? After all, haven’t all good writers been tortured?

However, a few weeks later, I met a psychiatrist whom I had found through my work insurance. When we met, I explained that I ate well, drank water, saw friends, walked and cycled every day – but for the past few years I couldn’t not get rid of the constant grip of stress and anxiety. She suggested I take 20 milligrams of Celexa, an anti-anxiety drug, and see how I felt.

This moment changed my life.

Anxiolytics, for me, made all the difference. My mind is now clear, instead of being loud and buzzing. Instead of spending all my energy dealing with my emotions, I can just to be myself. Sure, I still worry about my kids, my job, my relationships, and the world in general — but now I’m no longer obsessed or catastrophic. Instead of robbing me of creativity, the drugs allowed me to think easily, without having to fight anxious thoughts. And I no longer spiral at bedtime. I have just read my book and I fall asleep.

“Anxiolytics and antidepressants aren’t a magic button, and they’re not for everyone,” my friend says Lina Pearl, who is a clinical therapist in Manhattan. “But if your nervous system is over-vigilant and hits 11, medication can lessen the effects. It can help you get to the point where you can take better care of yourself – with sleep, exercise and a broader self-care regimen – and then it’s a snowball rolling down a hill.

Medications have side effects in some people, although in my friends they have been mild or non-existent. For me, the only one I noticed is sexual: it takes me longer to have an orgasm. It can be frustrating sometimes, and other times it’s fine. “If you have side effects, you can switch and try something different,” says Lina. “You should feel encouraged to talk to your psychiatrist about this, and he should listen to you. It’s an ongoing conversation.

Some people need medication for a short time, others for life. My friend Claire Mazur, for example, had success on antidepressants, but then took up running, which helped keep her mood stable. But I (Samin Nosrat) plan to take medication for the long term, the same way another person might take insulin or cholesterol medication daily. “A lot of people should and do take drugs forever,” says Lina. “They may be needed even with all the other stabilizers in place.”

I’ve been on and off meds over the years, like when I was pregnant and breastfeeding the boys (although I’ve since learned that many people continue to take low-risk meds throughout the pregnancy). And I’ve been through three depressions – two postpartum and one year laterbut Celexa helped me out.

So! T1; dr: It’s the face of a happy, healthy woman who loves her family, watches TV and reads books, and who would marry her anxiety medication if she could. If you think you might benefit, but are only holding yourself back because of nerves or stigma, maybe consider talking to a doctor. All my love, as always, and feel free to ask questions in the comments. XOXO

PS The hardest two months of my life, and why suicide isn’t selfish.

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