#thepersonalside: The Serenity Pill

I am appropriating my second post of the month to the hashtag, #thepersonalside. I checked Twitter to see if the hashtag has been used at all. Curiously, it has not, even without ‘the’ at the beginning.


image by Michael Nutt https://www.flickr.com/photos/nutt/
image by Michael Nutt

The Serenity Pill

General Anxiety Disorder [GAD] is a permanent sideshow in my life, brought on by the stroke I had and intensified by the change of life that growing older brings. Do not get me wrong. I do not mind growing old. The GAD is just a hurdle for me to contend with is all.

My grandparents gave me an affirmative attitude about the later years of life by example. They were grateful for all they had and made light of the disappointments, aggravations, and pain they endured. In addition, none of them seem to be afraid of death. They looked at all of their existences as being part of life.

Anxiety can impoverish that forward-looking attitude to the point where one can only worry about what is coming next, what can befall him/her, the unknown, and even aspects that are trivial. It can do it without the person being aware, causing dreadful tension, atrocious headaches, and sometimes nausea. That is General Anxiety Disorder.

Some people have trouble functioning at all when this disorder hits. I am sure my husband might have liked it better, although not by much if I had reacted by hiding out in the bedroom not participating in life. With me, irritation, oversensitivity, and provocation set into my head. I was not a happy person and I was making my husband’s life wretched. Why did he stay with me? I cannot figure out why. He told me he knew something was wrong and we just had to find a way to deal with it. My opinion is he is a soul who is always duty-bound and I am grateful for this.

The doctor prescribed one antidepressant after another when I finally decided I needed more that just dairy products to keep me calm. I had gotten to the point where I did not like the taste of milk anymore. The thought of having the same reaction to ice cream was appalling to me. Whenever I feel the need for an attitude pick-me-up or want to give myself a special treat, I head over to Dairy Queen for a small Blizzard. There was not any way I wanted to give that up.

Eventually, the doctor found the medication that I, now, call my Serenity Pill. Lexapro is in the category of antidepressants but is used more for anxiety than most of the other ones. It acts on the brain chemicals serotonin and norephinephrine[1] to balance what is out of whack. It allows me to feel sad, anger, annoyance, and even minor depression but without that feeling of forebodingness that cause my mood to be so desperate.

Lexapro is not a cure-all. I still worry about those things I don’t have control over but it is in perspective now. These things are not haunting me daily anymore. Only when I read something, see something, or hear something pertaining to these matters, I will worry. I adjust my thinking using cognitive techniques[2] to put myself in that calm frame of mind again.

Brain injuries, such as the stroke, can play havoc with emotions. I can only be thankful that I live in a time when there are medications to help me deal with this adversity.

[1] Treating Generalized Anxiety

[2] Stress Management – Ways to Relieve Stress


“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ― Anaïs Nin


#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White

Diana at Part Time Monster hosts a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.


If we were to have coffee, I’d want it to be at a quaint coffee shop. It would be one of those places off the main drag that probably only has about ten to fifteen tables scattered around its four walls.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)


As of a week ago yesterday, I have changed happy pills.

You look around trying to find the waitress. It looks like this is going to be one of those discussions full of ifs, ands, and buts, and you need coffee. The waitress, a middle-aged woman who has kept her figure, saunters over, jots down our order, and leaves.

Weren’t those other ones working? You were on them for over three years.

I know. I thought they were working, but remember last fall when I got the extra pill?

You nod your head and glance at the counter where the waitress is placing mugs on a tray. You turn back to me and look expecting.

The coffee is put before us with commentary rolls in a small basket. I grab the Hazelnut creamer while you load your coffee with sugar.

I hated that pill. I had zero motivation to do anything. I wasn’t doing anything but starting projects and never ever finishing them. And that was only when I had the gumption to be creative or productive in the first place.

I remember you talking about that.

You make a grimacing face after tasting your coffee. You reach for the sugar again.

I weaned myself off the stuff and tried to make do with what I had, the one antidepressant. I did make do but that was it. All during that time, I wanted to be totally alone. That’s the way I was the happiest.

It does explain your excuses for not coming to have coffee. However, you do know we’re social creatures, right?


I take a sip of coffee. The sweet nutty taste fills my mouth as I swallow.

Well, that sounds like depression to me. Why didn’t that pill work for you?

It wasn’t actually depression. It’s anxiety.

Your eyebrow furrow in puzzlement.

Anxiety isn’t just about out-and-out worry. You can be worried about how others view you or almost anything else, I guess, yet it’ll show up as confusion, self-loath, fear, sometime paranoia. With me it’s usually confusion and/or fear. Therefore, being alone is easier. No one else there to confuse me more than I’m already doing by myself. No one else there to make me feel afraid.

As we sip our coffee I can almost see the wheels turning in your mind. When you don’t say anything though, I continue.

I called the doc. Of course, he wasn’t available, but he’s good at calling back. However, it was his nurse who called me. She wasn’t sure if I should be switching drugs without an appointment. Yeh, I got that. I just asked her to talk to the doc and get back to me. I fully expected to have to make an appointment.

So how did that go?

I didn’t have the appointment. Because I had talked to the doc about the anxiety before and about weaning myself off that nasty drug, he already knew what he should try next on me. Presto, I get a call from the pharmacy telling me my new happy pill is ready.

I finally shut up and slurp some coffee down. Your cup is half gone already. You bite into a croissant roll before replying.

So now you’re happier?

I have to think about this for a moment. I nibble on one of the sourdough rolls while I stare into the space between me and the rest of the shop.

Maybe the word isn’t “happy”. I’m more in tuned with the world than I was last week. Before, it was either a case of time getting away from me or time was standing still. In fact, there were times when I’d look at the clock and swore I had gone back an hour or more. I’m in sync now, I guess.

Was that kosher for the doctor to subscribe without seeing you? I mean, what’s the chance of error?

Come on, this is a small community. My doc is popular but he’s not the only doctor in town. He knows most of his patients pretty well. Plus, when he was in medical school, his internship was at the hospital I used to work at many years ago–and his oldest daughter still lives in that area so I ask about her a lot. I’m confident my doc does know me. Any error would be there with or without the appointment just because this type of medicine is a trial and error thing anyway.

We hear tinkling. You put your reading glasses on and bring your cell phone from its hiding place in your handbag. You frown at the small screen. While you take the call, I gulp down the rest of my coffee and hail the waitress.

Those rolls are so good. Can we get refills on the coffee?

Sure. Want more rolls too?

No, I don’t think so, but thanks.

I push my bangs back away from my eyes. I need a trim. I look like an unkempt teenager.

Sorry about that. I should’ve never had children. I’m not fit as a parent.

What do you mean? You’re not perfect but your kids do well in school and they seem happy to me.

I’m losing my patience with both of them. I need, I need, I need. I want, I want, I want. They never shut up!

That isn’t your fault. That’s peers talking.

Our refills come. We repeat our routine of add-ons to our coffee.

Yeh, sure, I know. Sometimes I want to scream at them, maybe even take out their voice boxes.

We grin at each other and sip our coffee.


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Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee. ~Alexander King