Tales From The Anxiety Med-Go-Round: Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

The scene: late summer, on a leave of absence from my cubicle-farm workplace. The culprit? Panic. Really bad panic that was keeping me, for the most part, stuck in my apartment. Most days, I was too scared to even drive down the street to Walgreens.

I had been relying on Xanax to treat my panic attacks as they happened. I’d been diligently working through Dr. Edmund Bourne’s Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (which I would honestly recommend to anyone who suffers from frequent panic attacks), but not seeing any immediate benefit. I’d been doing therapy and trying to eat normally again. At only 95 lbs, an all-time low for my adult life, I felt unhealthy and deflated.

“Why don’t you just try Celexa and see what happens?” my family doctor said at my next appointment. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue taking it.”

Yeah. I’ve heard that story before. Cough cough PAXIL cough.

I went through my usual monologue: Paxil was hell. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. SSRI’s are a bank loan that have to be paid back later with interest, goddammit.

I’d received a phone call from my insurance company the day prior — the one that paid me a meager income while I was home on LOA — and they said that without being on some type of medication, they wouldn’t pay up.

“What about therapy?” I asked the claims representative. “I’m doing CBT. I just tried hypnotherapy. I’m working on my problem!”

“That’s fine, but the standard treatment protocol involves medication. If you continue to refuse medication, then your claim will be denied.”


I’m paraphrasing, of course, because I’m trying to recall the details of a phone conversation that occurred more than a year ago. But that was the general message: get on meds, or sit at home and rack up debt without a paycheck.

So, after a lot of grief, I relented. I told my doctor I’d try the Celexa.

I cried when I swallowed the first tiny orange tablet. Here I go. Here I go again.

“Fool me twice,” I kept thinking. Over and over again.

And shame on me.

(More about my med experience to come — and why, suddenly, it matters so much to me.)

Photo: MissLeslie17 (Flickr)