Yoga, with a Side of Prozac, Please

I have anxiety, and when I forget my medicine, I don’t feel jumpy or nervous. I don’t get worked up talking to strangers, and I don’t feel like everyone is watching me. I don’t feel like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown or like I’m sitting on the edge of tears and no tears (although I do cry sometimes, especially when I forget my medicine.)

What I really feel is like the real me is asleep and someone else has taken up residency inside of me.

Some days, it is a very angry demon. I get easily frustrated. Traffic on the highway brings out every cuss word I know, and then some that I invented. Rain makes me scream and roll my eyes, as if the heavens have personally decided to thwart my day with their humidity. If my boyfriend doesn’t call when he says he will, I burst into tears and curse him out, vowing never to let another person take advantage of me like this ever again.

Other days, the demon is asleep, but only napping. On those days, I feel like a skittish child. The real me has to tiptoe around the sleeping demon. If I wake him–well, I don’t know what happens, but probably something terrible. On those days, I apologize for everything, even if I have done nothing wrong. Any time someone gets angry at me–a stranger on the road when I slowed down in front of a green light, or my boyfriend, for texting him too many times in a rowI sob, begging for forgiveness, even if it is completely unnecessary.

Sometimes, the real me wakes up while the demons are around. I’m not strong enough to force them out, not without my medicine. It’s an exhausting fight, the one between you and your brain.

I try to run to escape him, when I’m feeling up to it. My theory is this: if I can exhaust my body, the demon will have no place to stay. Or if he stays, maybe I will be too tired to hear him.

I drive sometimes, too; too fast with my music too loud, chainsmoking cigarettes until I can’t feel my legs. Nicotine calms me down, as it’s designed to, but it leaves a taste in my mouth that I can’t stand. Although, if I sing along to the music, screaming the words into the space of my car, I can’t really pay attention to the demons, so it works sometimes.

Other days, I get high. These are the worst days, the days when I am too tired to run or drive or go outside to smoke. These are the days where everything seems dark, the days when I can’t stop crying.

The pills are prescription and my prescription, but they work nonetheless. If I take two and wait for the sleepiness to pass, I feel mellow and calm. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience–if I can’t drown out the demon inside of me, at least I can leave the room.
It just sucks that the room is my body.
These days, I take my saving-grace pill and climb into bed, armed with my laptop and some pretzels, and I munch on pretzels with Nutella and watch Netflix until I finally, mercifully, fall asleep.

I am trying to just breathe as my world collapses around me. Sometimes, it works.

Later, I know I have to apologize, and I do. I shower, washing the terrible thoughts away, watch them swirl down the drain with the shampoo suds at my feet. I thank God for keeping me safe. I drag my feet over to the couch where my boyfriend is waiting for me, and I curl up under his arm, and whisper my apologies, feeling like I am broken.

There is always the feeling that I am broken.

I remember the horrible days when I was gone for days on end, even with my medicine. I remember the days when my boyfriend laid beside me and begged me to come back to him. I wept while my demons laughed. But the next day, I woke up in my own body, all by myself.

Oftentimes, anxiety isn’t just jittery, painful shyness. It is not holding onto an apple core the entire class period just because you are afraid people will stare at you when you stand to throw it away. A lot of the time, anxiety is angry and scared and despondent. It’s ugly. It’s the crippling feeling that you are not yourself, and you no longer have control over yourself anymore.

Time and time again, I have had people ask why I never tried the holistic methods of healing–essential oils and yoga and lots of water.

The truth is, I have tried them. I do yoga every morning and drink plenty of water throughout the day. But without my little pink pills, I am not myself.

I am not taking medicine to “cheat my way through life.” It does not turn me into someone else. Without the medicine, I am not the same person I was before I needed the medicine. I am not a happy, well-adjusted adult. I am a child, a devil, a ghost–I am anything but myself, nothing but a shell, being controlled by my demons.

Without my medicine, I close myself off. I yell at the people I love. I become codependent, unresponsive, accusatory. I feel worthless, reckless, and indestructible, and you don’t need me to tell you that it’s a toxic mix.

This barely begins to explain the wretched hopelessness, the total loss of control that comes with anxiety. Be patient with me. I have a lot going on in my head; sometimes, it gets crowded up there.

By Rachel Pfeffer
Visual by Lauren Gilleland

1 comment

  1. Amazing look into someone else's mind. It feels like everyone is quick to judge people taking medication daily for mental health reasons, or think that they "don't need it forever." Maybe that's the case for some, but it's nice to hear from a smart young woman in that situation, like yourself, that some of us do need it to function at our best, and that it's okay!

    Thank you for your story Rachel!