I need to start by saying there are so many ways I manage my anxiety. There is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach - and I have learnt to be patient, flexible and adaptable to what I need at any particular time. This has taken practice and a commitment to discovering all parts of me - the light and shadow aspects.
Over the years, I have realised how much strength is required to see a therapist and work through confronting aspects about life. I have been in and out of therapy for almost eight years - and my personal growth and self awareness has been exponential. My empathy and capacity to understand humanity has increased tenfold. I am strong, resilient and emotionally intelligent.
Self-care has become integral in my life. I have many activities, resources and avenues that I use to look after myself and I have developed this knowledge over time. I have picked up tools, tips and techniques from multiple sources and experimented with ideas until I found the methods that work best for me and the particular point in life I find myself.
Spiritual practice has also become a huge and amazing part of my perspective. Meditating, yoga, chakra cleansing, energy healing, channelling, connecting with nature and mother earth, sacred women’s circles, deepening my intuition, seeking knowledge and understanding of spirit through podcasts, books, lectures, workshops and teachers.
But there is another way I manage my anxiety on a day to day basis - I take a mild SSRI.
Is this a big deal? Does it need an announcement?
For me - the answer is yes and no.
The concept of taking medication troubled me for a long time. I was so resistant to the idea and so against it, that even at my worst - I would not even contemplate taking tablets. It felt like defeat, like I was giving up and not working hard enough to make myself better. I wasn’t good enough as I couldn’t heal myself - I was a perfectionist about fixing myself - like I was a project that could reach particular milestones if I worked hard enough. Like I could get better if I could just uncover one more issue, if I could just understand why I reacted negatively to one additional situation, if I could heal myself just that little bit more.
There are many sectors in the online community that echoed my fears and made it difficult for me to accept the need for western medicine in dealing with anxiety and depression. I found that there is an undercurrent of shame, and also a feeling that you are ‘not really that spiritual’ if everything is not organic, based on energy or nature. Of course, these were all projections of my own feelings about the ‘weakness’ of taking tablets to ease my suffering.
In a similar way, I started to attract some spiritual friends and mentors, as well as holistic health advocates who advised me of the dangers of taking tablets and how it would influence my energy field, my health, my growth and my perceptions - however mild. The thought of taking tablets caused me a mountain of shame and resistance. To even consider taking tablets felt inauthentic and inadequate.
I took all of these ‘warnings’ and opinions on board and I rejected tablets in favour of upping my self care routine. I wholeheartedly embraced daily meditation, yoga and bush walking. I gave up coffee, did a 6 week liver cleanse, continued eating a low fructose diet and took a daily probiotic. I saw a psychologist, had massages and acupuncture regularly. I journaled, listened to podcasts about health and wellness and scheduled alone time to rest and recharge. I had energy healings, set boundaries, read, spent time with loved ones, focused on positive aspects and was open and connected with friends. I prioritised self-care, planned events and activities that I enjoy, took regular breaks to connect back to myself and with nature as well pursuing a career that I love.
I could not see anything else that I could do to ease symptoms that were becoming increasingly more debilitating.
The truth is - while all of these practices are beneficial, deeply helpful, and healing - it was only when I started taking tablets, that I felt consistently better. The tablets were a last resort that when combined with consistent self-care practices have brought me back to myself.
I have not given up any of my self-care pursuits. I do not see medication as the ‘fixer’ and I will not be on them forever. I know that tablets are not for everyone - and I truly respect each person’s views about what is best for them. I do believe there is some truth to the detrimental aspects of taking medication - and that this needs to be weighed carefully with the benefits.
However, combined with my self-care practices, anti-depressants help me to live a life that is full and rich and mostly happy. And for now I am calm, centred and at peace.
It does take strength to admit you need help.
It takes courage to see a psychologist, counsellor or other therapist to confront your past and work through your fears.
It takes commitment, focus and openness to truly examine your present and explore what you want for your future.
The most important thing, I believe, is to look deep within and make a decision about what is best for us as individuals, to stay open and flexible when circumstances shift in order to make new decisions when they are needed, and to commit to living with grace, authenticity and kindness.
Amanda is a (reformed) lawyer turned holistic life coach, self-care advocate, workshop facilitator, writer, speaker, avid reader, nature lover, chai tea drinker and mother to a curious, active toddler. A spirit seeker who loves connecting with others on journeys of self-discovery, Amanda believes we can all find our own version of success and live an empowered life.