I just didn't feel anything.

24 May 2015

I've often thought about writing a mental health related blog post, but could never decide what in particular to write about...until this week when I visited the dentist. Probably not the most likely link but bear with me...

Like many others I fear going to the dentist, but to cut a long story short I needed some treatment and, knowing I was a nervous patient, the dentist offered me sedation in the form of diazepam.

I have suffered with anxiety and a form of OCD (obsessive and intrusive thoughts rather than carrying out compulsive physical behaviours) for about eleven years, and I am currently doing pretty well (something I say with much caution since it has a habit of coming back to bite me). I had taken a low dose anti-depressant for two six month periods during my 'anxiety journey' and I have tried numerous therapies and self help techniques with varying degrees of success.

I had never been offered anything stronger by my GP, nor have I wanted it, and had heard the stories about diazepam and valium and their effects, so I was a bit reluctant about taking it but also, rightly or wrongly, rather intrigued. My experience of taking it is of feeling numb. There is no other way I can describe it...I just didn't feel anything. For example, I couldn't cry in the shower before my appointment, despite feeling like I wanted and needed to let it out. Yes, it alleviated my usual pre-appointment anxiety, which was helpful to me on the day...but I remember thinking 'I would hate to feel like this ALL the time'. Whilst I didn't feel worried or anxious, I also didn't feel happy or hopeful about anything in those couple of days. I jokingly said to friends 'so this is what it feels like to be a relaxed person!', but really I was worried that I would never feel like me again, with my ever undulating emotions that make me who I am and have helped me to become a stronger person.

But of course I did return...later on in the week I dropped my five year old nephew off at school as a favour to my sister, and cried all the way to work afterwards over how grown up he's getting and how proud of him I am. Normal service and emotions had been restored, and I was grateful for them.

It's a controversial topic, and I am certainly not denigrating the use of such medication...it's a very personal decision and depends on individual circumstances. I guess I just wanted to share my experience and the little bit of insight I got into what it feels like to take it. Mindfulness and sitting with the anxiety and other emotions that come up may be uncomfortable, sometimes downright unbearable, but I know that negative emotions and thoughts pass and that I can and will have positive ones too. And that is how I plan to roll.


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