Follow me on my journey to stay fit and healthy while dealing with ataxic cerebral palsy.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Big Solution For My Fear And My Panic Attacks
Ok, so I know you’re all dying to know what this solution is. Here it is: Xanax. There you go. It’s an anti-anxiety medication, and take it from a big skeptic...it works. My mother in-law has a prescription for Xanax, and she’s offered me a pill here and there for years. Mostly when we fly back east. I’m not a huge fan of flying and I tend to get anxious. I’ve always turned her down though. Until January.
In January, my husband and I started to work on my balance and walking without any support at all. This is how I came to my realization that my balance was actually fine, and it was my fear getting in the way. So, one day, we were out in the living room. No one else was around, so it was a good day for it. I didn’t have to worry about doors opening and closing, people sneezing, or other noises that cause me to jump (darn that jump reflex).
I was anxious during my practice, and my body was so tense I could barely move. One thing that helps that is if I close my eyes. So I closed my eyes and kept doing what I was doing, which was walking with my husband behind me. Then he had me keep my eyes closed and he spun me in circles so I didn’t know what direction I was facing. I didn’t know where the couch or chairs were. No clue. Then he let go and had me stand there with my eyes close. I got a bit more anxious, but not horrible. Then, the whammy. He told me open my eyes. I opened them, and it was instant panic.
I was in the middle of the room, nothing around to grab onto, and my husband was several feet away (still close enough to catch me if I fell). My entire body froze and I lost it. My breathing got out of control, my heart started racing, and I felt like I was going to die. But, I didn’t fall. So, now, we had a big clue as to what we had to work on. Balance is fine, mental state is not. So we kept trying this, and it ended up the same way each time. As I was sitting in the chair trying to regain control, my in-laws came back from wherever they were. They knew something was up, because I was trying hard not to cry.
We told them what was going was going on, and my mother in-law offered me a Xanax. I finally relented and said ok. However, I did not take one that day. I waited a few days. I wanted to take one before we did this “balance practice” again. I took one, and waited for 25 minutes. Honestly, I did not think these pills were going to do a darn thing. So we worked on walking and balance again, and it worked. I still felt anxious, but nowhere near as bad as before. I also avoided a panic attack after I was spun around in circles with my eyes closed. I opened them, and was in the middle of the room again with nothing around me. I stayed somewhat calm and never lost it.
It didn’t hit me until the next day just how effective it was. The next day we did the same thing, only without a pill. Same as before, I was spun around with my eyes closed. Opened them, and instant panic. I was also a lot more tense in my legs than I was when I used the pill. I had no clue Xanax did as much as it did for me. It relaxed my muscles (nice bonus I wasn’t expecting), kept my mind calm, and let me work through what anxiety I did have. I’d have to say that it cut out about 85% of the anxiety. It was still there, don’t get me wrong, but it was manageable at least.
Since January, I think I’ve taken 5 pills. I do take one when I go to the chiropractor, not just to avoid panic, but to loosen everything up. It really surprised me how much it relaxed my body. I don’t know if that’s because of the medication itself, or the fact that my mind was calm. I don’t think Xanax is used primarily for relaxing muscles (it’s mostly for anxiety), but it does have that side benefit.
I don’t plan on taking it forever, although you never know. Xanax can be addictive, but only if you take it every day. That’s not my plan. I only plan to take it when I know for sure I’ll have to walk by myself or with the help of someone I’m not used to. Remember my incident with the chiropractor’s assistant? Since then, she’s helped me out a few times, and thanks to Xanax, I’ve been able to handle it. As a matter of fact at one appointment, she helped me out to the waiting room when I was done, and she actually let go and walked behind me. I didn’t freak out. I just kept walking calmly. I was a bit more unsteady, but I didn’t panic. That was a big woohoo moment.
When we get back from vacation, I’ll be talking with my doctor about getting my own prescription. I feel bad for using my mother in-law’s. She doesn’t need them very often either, which is good, but I do want my own.
I lasted 38 and a half years without taking any medication for my cerebral palsy. For the record, this technically isn’t for my cerebral palsy, but for my anxiety. So I guess my streak can continue. My mental issues finally got the better of me, hehe. I say, if it works, do it!