I witnessed a terrible and tragic accident last year that has left me struggling with fear, anxiety and survivor guilt. At the same time, I developed severe and debilitating OCD.
I thought at the time that these were two separate issues. After all, it seems improbable that ‘did I switch of the light?’ and ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’ are the same question…
But only after months of therapy and medication have I begun to see that yes, they are the same thing. I have so much fear inside me because of the accident last year, I simply can’t face it. So my mind has been making up what I call ‘shadow fears’ - taking a very real, and incomprehensible fear and turning it into more tangible fears that are potentially controllable if I do things ‘just right.’
I learned from this that medication can be a good ally. I had a lot of misconceptions about medication before I started, but looking back I realize I could have saved myself about six months of daily struggle and suffering if I had considered it an option sooner.
Medication doesn’t make my problems ‘go away’. It doesn’t change, fundamentally who I am. It simply puts me in a place where the ‘shadow fears’ don’t get in the way of the real fears, and allows me to work on and process what needs to be dealt with in order to move towards healing.
I like to think of it as clearing the table before starting a big project. The medication simply helps me clear a space to work in. It’s still up to me to do the work of healing.