Taking Medication Does Not Make Me Weak

I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication at three different points in my life. The first time was after the birth of our first child. The second was after the birth of our second child. And the third time, is now.

I’ve always been an anxious person. As a child, I remember feeling stressed by my parent’s spontaneity. I wanted to know where we were going every time we left the house — my mind raced ahead, planning and preparing. I didn’t like surprises, which was ironic considering I was the only child of two people who have always enjoyed “winging it.”

When I was 6, I began chewing my fingernails. At 9, I started pulling out my hair. I marveled at the strands, each one a different color. Blonde, brown, red—all of them glinted in the sun. One day, I stepped out of the shower and noticed the wide, bald strip running all the way down the middle of my head.

I remember my mom telling me it was okay, that she could cover it up with a side part. I was home-schooled that year, which fortunately spared me from whatever happens to kids who bald themselves in the 3rd grade. It took the remainder of the year for my hair to grow back.

I switched to chewing my cuticles.

At 12, I turned to food. During one particularly stressful Christmas break, I spent all day, every day, at my Grandma’s house eating cheese sandwiches and homemade fudge. I ate until I felt sick. I ate to feel better.

It didn’t work.

I have never been a medicine taker. My mom used to make poultices and tinctures out of tea bags to cure whatever ailed me; we avoided the doctor unless it was absolutely necessary. In fact, until I had my first child and experienced the kind of irrational desperation that made me want to drive my car into a building just to make the pain stop, I was judgmental of people who turned to medication to help them cope. I thought they were weak.

I was wrong.

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The funny thing about people with anxiety is that the mere idea of obtaining a prescription for medication is anxiety-inducing. What if the doctor thinks I’m lying? What if she thinks I’m one of those people who fill the prescription and then sell the meds on the black market? I better dress nicely for my appointment, so I don’t look like the kind of person who engages in criminal activity…but not too nice, because I don’t want to look like I run the crime ring.

Other worries included a paralyzing fear that the apocalypse would arrive and I would not only be unable to see (because I wouldn’t be able to obtain new contact lenses), but I would also lose my fucking mind because I wouldn’t be able to get the anti-anxiety medication that I WOULD CLEARLY NEED TO TAKE IF THE WORLD WAS COMING TO AN END.

I worried about one of my kids getting their hands on my pills and eating them. I worried about turning into a unemotional shell of a person. I worried about which was worse: slowly slipping into alcoholism, or taking medication for stress. Which one would I be judged more harshly for if people found out? Why did it matter?

For a long time, I fought it: I exercised and coped as best I could, but the day finally came when too many things were stacked too high, and they all came crashing down in one fell swoop.

It was time to get help.

My doctor didn’t treat me like a liar. She didn’t judge me. She affirmed, validated and assured me that my emotions were warranted. She patted my arm kindly, a gesture that I assume meant that she didn’t think I was there to con her.

She told me I wasn’t weak. To my surprise, I believed her.

I still read the entire warning label that accompanied the drug prescribed to me, and worried that I would be one of the 1% to experience numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet. I was still concerned that I was losing my mind, but decided that I no longer cared because the tightness in my chest was finally gone.

Medication freed me. I can breathe again, big gulps of air.

People say that it takes courage to ask for help, but I believe that it takes courage to admit that you needed it in the first place.

© 2015 Harmony Hobbs, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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Focusing On What Is Good.

I haven’t written much lately because the things I have to say aren’t fun or happy and that’s a real drag.

I don’t like to be a downer. I like to be an upper. I said this recently to a very wise woman who replied, “Well, sometimes you can’t choose.”

That’s true. Sometimes, you can’t.

If I’m being honest — and I am, because my writing is based on honesty — this has been a tough year for my family. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and then my uncle was murdered in my childhood home. If that sounds crazy, it’s because IT IS. Every dysfunctional facet of my extended family that I was dimly aware of, but mostly shielded from, rained down on me in the span of about three days. If there was ever a time that I COULD NOT EVEN, IT’S NOW.

I keep waiting for things to get less difficult, but they don’t — in fact, they continue to get harder. That doesn’t seem right. Life shouldn’t get harder the older you get, but it does.

However, as our difficulties increase we get better at navigating the bullshit. We put up boundaries and become more comfortable saying “I’m not okay with that,” or “You are not allowed to do that to me,” or “You are not welcome in my home.” As life gets harder, WE GET BETTER.

We get better.

It’s like parenting. We don’t give birth to a child in the throes of the terrible two’s — we start out with a mewling newborn and it feels like the hardest thing we have ever done. But then they start crawling and running and fighting back when you’re desperately trying to cram them into car seats and grocery carts, and again you think to yourself: this is the hardest thing I have ever done.

You find yourself thinking that every time you face down a new problem or situation that taxes your spirit. But remembering all of the other hard things you have surmounted — the colic, the endless nights, the tantrums, the failures made right — gets you through it.

That is how I am looking at my life right now. I will get through it, because I have made it through a lot of other hard things.

But it’s still really hard.

When life outside of these four walls becomes overwhelming, I turn inward and focus my attention on my people. They make me forget the bad and focus on the good.

There’s a lot of both, but I’d rather focus on the good. And there is so, so much of it.

my people

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Just Be You.

My cousin Jackie came over the other day with her son, who is Maverick’s age. We tried unsuccessfully to hide from our children so we could have adult conversation while they beat the hell out of each other with action figures. I lost track of how many times I shouted “JUST GO PLAY!!!”

What is it that makes them want to crowd around the grownups? We have no candy. We’re talking about pulled chest muscles. Nothing fun is happening over here, and I’m sick of spelling out s-e-x.

Just. Go. Play.

Jackie — and I’m not just saying this because she’s my cousin — truly inspires me. With what she has been through in her life, she should have been a statistic. But she’s not. She’s amazing, and I AM SO STINKIN’ PROUD OF HER.

The fact that she is extremely successful in her business has nothing to do with luck; she has a deep, unstoppable drive to succeed. When the zombie apocalypse hits, I’m going to Jackie’s house. I don’t know how or why, but she could talk the zombies into leaving us alone … and I fear I do not possess that skill. Robbie does, but what if they got him first? I feel better knowing that she’s my backup plan.

I confessed to her that sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing by writing so honestly and putting everything out there. Will my kids one day grow up to read that they drove me batshit fucking crazy and get irrevocably screwed up, even though I also write about how much I love them? Because … I really do love them. But also … I really do feel batshit crazy.

The other morning I was talking to Robbie about a post I’m working on for Scary Mommy, and Maverick looked up from his breakfast — I didn’t even think he was paying attention — and very seriously said to me “Mommy, I believe in you and I think that you’re the best.” GAH. Will that same kid one day read my words and be warped by them?! These are all the questions I posed to Jackie.

She listened to everything I had to say, and shook her head before speaking. “You won’t regret any of it,” she said, “Because you’re being YOU. You’re not trying to sound a certain way or act a certain way … this is WHO YOU ARE. How can you ever regret just being yourself?! Your family loves and knows you, just how you are, and the rest of the world will love you too. Just do your thing, girl.”

I seriously almost ugly cried.

Sometimes it’s nice for a person who is close to you, who really knows you, to bring it all back into focus. I am not pretending to be a certain way. I just am. And even though I don’t personally know everyone who will read these words today, I’m still going to tell you this: JUST BE WHO YOU ARE AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT. It is truly the best way to live.

And also? If you want to wear sunglasses like these when you’re about 15 years too old for them, that’s totally fine. Rock that shit.

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This is how women in their 40’s and 50’s end up walking around in sweats with sparkly words emblazoned across the ass, isn’t it? I can see my future very clearly right now.

Today’s Dose.

You know what this world is lacking? Authenticity. So I’m going to put out some unapologetic honesty in the hopes that it will counteract all the people who are trying to be something that they aren’t. I’m a big believer in balance. You take a vitamin, you eat a cookie. You drink a beer, you drink some water. You eat cake, you go for a walk.

The Earth is full of women who are not willing to be authentic, and as a result, almost all of us are lonely. The authentic ones have trouble finding other authentic ones, and the ones who are faking it just end up with a bunch of other equally fake friends. Womanhood can be incredibly isolating, which is why the handful of friends I’ve got who really know and understand me are stuck with me forever.

Why is it so hard for people to just speak the truth? It really will set you free. Tell you what, I’ll start: Potty training is hell and I’m so thankful for mommy amnesia because eventually I’ll forget how much it sucked. Today I had Doritos for breakfast and M&M’s for lunch. I want to yell “What the FUCK?!” at least twice per day, but I don’t. It’s going to happen one of these days because I feel like I’m surrounded by crazy people. I already feel terrible about it and it hasn’t even happened yet.

Sometimes I am really annoyed that I don’t get paid for being a stay-at-home mom. My job is hard. All I want is a paycheck so I can buy myself a plane ticket and go somewhere … because I’d like that.

I don’t believe anything they say on the Fox News Channel.

I smear Vaseline on everything. Like my face.

This weekend I tried to sell two stacks of old jeans at Plato’s Closet and they said they were too outdated. I took them to Style Encore which is similar, but geared toward women in their mid-twenties to mid-fifties, and they said my jeans were too outdated.

What the fuck.

This is a picture of my latest issue of Southern Living.

This is a picture of my latest issue of Southern Living.