Anxiety Is No Longer The Boss Of Me: My Story

6
4 min read

My job gave me anxiety

When it emerged that Carrie Fisher’s ashes had been laid to rest in a giant Prozac pill urn, the Star Wars actress’ ‘favourite possession’, my supercharged heart was fit to burst. As tribute to Fisher’s searing humour and mental health advocacy it could not have been a more fitting pro-mental health statement. It’s one I’ll always carry close.
For one-and-a-half years I’ve taken a daily dose of Prozac (a.k.a. Fluoxetine). And I can’t see me ever stopping in this lifetime.
This is just me

Two Aprils ago my doctor signed me off with stress, anxiety and depression, triggered by … well, everything. Underpinning it all was the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) a psychologist had diagnosed me with a few years before. This crumble of mine was just the latest in a pattern of crumbles I was dealing with which I thought were just how I was, and how I would always feel.

My positive, creative self was stuck in a vice

I felt a deep injustice too that the positive, grateful, creative, bright person I felt at my core, that others saw and who came out in my good peaks, was in a vice-like grip. I’d not known any different since I was very young. I’d never considered there might be something physiologically awry that could be eased up. My GAD was just a fact of me.

“I’d never considered there might be something physiologically awry that could be eased up.”

What does anxiety look like at work?

When GAD goes unchecked, which for me it did for a good decade at least, it does what it says on the tin. It exhausts the day-to-day with a leeching, chilling dread, fearful whirring thoughts and deep blue troughs of feeling that leave me immobilised, teary, hopeless, afraid to open letters, drained and wanting to retreat.

My job gave me anxiety and the stress was getting out of hand

In April 2015 I was working as a press officer, having hit a brick wall with journalism, my childhood passion. I was blue at having to pack in reporting. I was still fairly new in the press office role, and I felt an overbearing weight of responsibility and panic that had nothing to do with my managers. They knew from my record and from seeing me in action that I was capable.

The sleepless nights

Of course what they couldn’t see was the ice chill that swept over me every time we received an enquiry; the panic attacks. The sleepless nights I had worrying about getting statements signed off in time, or the complexities of that interview I’d arranged for the following week. All of which would have me biting my nails down to the bone, on high alert, obsessively checking work emails and wiping off my weekends to this intense, suffocating worry, manifest in crying, fury and doom-laden outpourings. In short, my job gave me anxiety.

“I felt an overbearing weight of responsibility and panic.”

Exercise, meditation and counselling no longer worked

Sweating it out through exercise, mindful activity and being outside had helped in the past, but at that point, two years ago I was too run-down to run, too tired to engage, afraid I’d only make myself worse. So when my doctor prescribed a daily pop of Prozac/Fluoxetine, I went for it. I’d always been open to trying whatever potential remedy was in reach to see if it could help. Counselling had been transformative in the past, so I sought that out too. I’d tried Citalopram for a day, but the effects – speech slurring, nausea, total body heaviness – freaked me out so much I packed it in right away.

My new life, the real ‘me’ & long-awaited relief

I turn 30 this year. Since taking this little-fingernail-sized green-and-white pill as part of my daily routine I’ve been granted mental space from myself, for the first time I can remember. I’ve not carried that intense dread I’ve had with me for more of my life than not. It has brought a calm, control; a novel even-ness. I feel, but I’m not thrown around by polarised, extreme feeling. I can check my work emails without holding my breath. I rarely cry, where two Aprils ago I’d burst into tears daily. I had shied from taking any pill before that threatened to dampen me down, remove my ‘magical’ creative powers and ‘make me feel wonderfully bland’.  But that’s not been the case. It’s been a revolution.

“I’ve been granted mental space from myself, for the first time I can remember.”

Carrie Fisher’s giant pill urn is not just an homage to Prozac

That colossus Carrie felt strongly enough about Prozac’s effects to cherish a human face-sized replica, is testament to just how much it means to finally find something that helps you calm the internal trauma and chaos, if like me, you need that extra help.

To me, Fisher’s giant pill urn is far from being an ultimate homage to Prozac. Carrie’s pill is a symbol of the fight it takes to win your version of mental peace, whatever that means. That fight is who we are.

Daisy x

If you would like to chat to me further about my journey, head over to the Iris Lillian Squad. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom, a national campaign to help shed stigma around the topic. If you feel you are developing a mental health issue, please seek support using the links below.
Meet Daisy

Daisy lives in Bristol UK where she writes for themessyrunner.com, runs and hunts live music shows and pizza. She shares a teal 18th century flat with a kitten called Bees and Harry who has Robert Plant hair.

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My job gave me anxiety

6 Comments
  1. Bonnie Gardiner says

    This is so perfect! Thank you for your honesty Daisy and for such a beautifully accurate description of anxiety, I’ve read many attempts at this and none come close to this ?? #myhero

    1. Daisy Bee says

      You know what, I held my breath when I decided to share this publicly, but I’m so glad I did. Striving for mental health is a constant battle, and it’s a battle that’s unique to everyone. And it’s a huge, life-long learning curve. I’m glad to now be someone who refuses to give up my health for the sake of work demands. Who benefits in the long-run when we get burnt out? Not us; not our loved ones. We’ve got to fight for our souls, and what feeds them! Thank you so much for your lovely words Bonnie 🙂

  2. Debra says

    This is such a beautifully written article. I know people who have suffered for years with anxiety before taking action and getting solutions. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Daisy Bee says

      Thank you for your kind words Debra, I think the turning point for me was to have a professional identify that there was something that could be treated – I’d always just felt that I was an anxious person, and that was that. I guess it was also when my anxiety stopped being something that purely fueled high-performing behaviour I had to pay attention. As I say in the article, it’s been a learning curve.

  3. Melinda Lindor says

    I’m a registered nurse and my job was sucking all of the life out of me. My patients needed me, I’m no quitter and I needed health insurance as well. Not to mention, bills!!! So I hung in there. I “hung in there” so long that I became anxious and depressed until I hit rock bottom! Once I hit rock bottom, my lowest point, my soul just couldnt take it anymore so I did what I had to do. I planned on taking a LOA in a few months for some headspace and to begin pursuing my dream business but God had sooner & bigger and better plans. Now I look back in hindsight & realize, that whole time I was being stretched. Stretched for the next level in my journey. Literally the moment after I let my manager know that I would be going out on leave effective immediately, I literally felt that negative energy I had been producing lift from my space and wont you know it, the blessings began to pour in. I mean blessing after blessing! I watched God open up the gates of heaven for me. I’ve been blessed many times before, but this blessing taught me many powerful lessons. I’ve never been the same since then. I refuse to ever again sacrifice my health for a paycheck. Enjoy your Day!!!

    1. Daisy Bee says

      Hi Melinda, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! It’s an experience it seems many people I know have had to go through to figure out what works/ doesn’t work for us and what we need, and I’m glad to hear you’re feeling all the better for it. 🙂

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