As the daughter of pharmacists, I fully embrace the adage: Better living through chemistry, especially as it applies to medication. I will take the Advil for aches and pains; gimme the antibiotics for infections (not for viruses!); and my children are fully vaccinated.

However, my experience with antianxiety meds have not been the best. Xanax is great for derailing an anxiety attack, but it’s contraindicated with alcohol, and we all know I like my nightly beverages. I tried Lexapro, and it was bad news.

Last November, I started taking passion flower supplements, two a day. My husband recommended I try it at the recommendation of one of his patients who takes it for anxiety.

My anxiety and insomnia were at an all-time high, and I was starting to feel like prescribed medication was not a good option. I would’ve tried just about anything.

When we traveled to see my sister at Thanksgiving, she suggested a supplement called L-Methlypro. It’s the metastasized form of vitamin B (basically, I think). I believe, if I have this right, that some chiropractic research has turned up evidence that certain ethnicities don’t metabolize vitamin B well (think Irish). So I started taking one of those a day.

My anxiety has mostly been under control since I started these supplements. Are they working because of the chemical reactions inside of my body? Are they working because I believe they work?

Do I care? (Spoiler alert: I do not care.)

As I documented recently, sleep has been a problem. I picked up melatonin over the weekend to try that. I took it Sunday night, and slept fairly well — one wake up to go to the bathroom. However, Dan fell asleep on the couch that night, so I didn’t have him breaking into my sleep. I took melatonin again last night, and Dan and I were in bed together. Two wake ups, although the second one was at 5:30 a.m. I wanted to go back to sleep, but Dan was snoring, which made it challenging.

At the same time, of course, I must have finally dozed off again because I hit snooze until 6:40, and thus ran late all morning.

Tonight, I am going to try to sleep without melatonin to see if there’s a difference.

Do these supplements work because we think they work? Or are they “medicine” in a non-traditional sense, natural drugs that are kinder and gentler to our bodies because they are less-synthesized than prescription medications?

Either way, I am willing to give them a try. If the anxiety or the insomnia get out of hand again, I am willing to turn to a prescription. I am okay with trial and error. But I am also okay with going with what is working for me, regardless of WHY it works.

How about you? Do you take supplements to help with health issues, or rely on a prescription medication? Or both?

When Anxiety Attacks, Part II

I have intrusive thoughts. Aside from my insomnia, it’s probably the biggest symptom of my anxiety.

Last night, after going to therapy again, I had a panic attack in the parking lot. Then around 2 a.m. this morning, I awoke from a dream — a nightmare, essentially. I was on a walk around the neighborhood with my children. Michael was way ahead of us. He came across what looked like construction equipment, and climbed up on it. It looked like someone was cutting branches off trees.

Well, he climbed up on a platform full of bark and woods. I called to him to get down from there, and even as I was shouting, he got dumped into a nearby dumpster full of branches and leaves and bark. Fortunately, he was able to climb out. I woke from the dream with a start, and my VERY FIRST THOUGHT WAS: “What if that were a wood shredder instead of just a dumpster?”

THANKS, STUPID ANXIETY BRAIN. Next, it wanted me to catalog all the ways my children could die, with getting hit by a car at the top of the list. While I watch helplessly, naturally.

I don’t remember what I did to shut it down, but it worked. I think I just said, “No. No I am not doing this. Everyone is fine, and sleeping, and go away, anxiety brain.”

Dan has given me a couple of tricks to try, as has #LadyTwitter. One woman on Twitter had me focus on my immediate surroundings. “Are you standing or sitting down?” she tweeted at me. “What is the room temperature like? Have you eaten anything recently?”

One of Dan’s tactics is similar. “Tell me five things you can see, and what color they are. Now, tell me four things you can hear…”, three you can smell, two you can feel/touch, one you can taste. There’s an alphabet one, as well: one syllable word that starts with A, B, C, etc.; then two syllable words, three syllable words, etc.

Plus, the things I know to do myself, of course: deep breaths. Yoga, guided meditation. Progressive muscle relaxation.

Maybe I’m just a hormonal, cliche of a Gen X woman, and this is my mid-life crisis. While the possibility is a little depressing, it also doesn’t help me to know that I’m not alone.

Anyway, here I am, anxiety attacks after therapy, intrusive thoughts, and insomnia.

How YOU doing?