Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fear of Addiction: One of My Many Intrusive Thoughts

That's me, doing my advocate thing.
Today, I progressed in my exposure and response prevention therapy to one of my harder "triggers," and that is thoughts that I will become addicted to my anxiety medication. There are a few things that make this particular exposure tricky. Firstly, I am on medication that is potentially addictive. Secondly, I have days when my anxiety is too great to function without medication. I have this trigger in my life that I currently depend on, but am afraid to become truly dependent on. This is a field day for my obsessive mind.

I'm not going to go into medication details for now. I know I'm not the only one with medicine obsessions, so I don't want people to equate my experience with my particular cocktail as everyone's experience. This stuff is too nuanced for that. What I will say is that I am on a low dose of my particular medication, but I take it everyday right now because I was on a higher dose in the hospital and we want to make my transition to taking it rarely again super smooth. At times, I know I'm doing well with the taper and I am not abusing my medication. Other times, I'm convinced I'm addicted and I don't even know it. It's been enough to cause bad enough panic attacks that I need my meds, which I'm sure you can imagine fans the flames.

I've been questioning my relationship with my medication for years. Even when, as a person with co-morbid and relatively severe panic disorder and OCD, I was taking a low dose maybe once a month, I would sometimes convince myself I was addicted. Suddenly, my panic symptoms must be symptoms of withdrawal, my need to make the panic stop really just a need for medication. Never mind that my panic exists with or without the medication. It's just where my mind goes. Now, I'm trying to face that fear and live with that doubt. It's not pleasant.

This is probably my most uncomfortable exposure yet. I think that is a good thing. It might finally be working.