After just one day of medication, Catherine Elders was back in her psychiatrist’s office after suffering acute separation anxiety from her anxiety.
“I went through the day uninterrupted by my usual obsessive thoughts about potential dangers,” says an upset Elders. “I didn’t know what to worry about, which started making me anxious.” She adds, “I even trusted that the bridge I cross every morning was not going to give out under the weight of my bicycle. It was awful.”
As the effects of her General Anxiety Disorder subsided, she began to have general anxiety about the absence of her constant fears. “When I’m riding the elevator up to the floor on which I work, I want to be anxious about how easily the cables could snap and I could fall to my death – not about what emails I need to send once I get to my desk. My whole day starts on the wrong foot.”
“What she’s experiencing is separation anxiety from her original anxiety,” responded Dr. Horace Lee. “Most people are grateful when their medication works as prescribed, and they find joy in the release from the disorder. Catherine, on the other hand, perceives this loss of pain as an actual loss.”
Elders started the medication to live a more relaxed life, but now she feels incomplete without her constant, nagging sense of worry. “My relationship with my anxiety was the longest, most meaningful relationship I’ve had in my lifetime,” said Elders. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s always been there. I don’t know who I am without our little chats about the stove possibly being on when I’m not home.”
As Elders settled into bed after her first day on medication, she was unable to fall asleep long past the usual three hours. “I almost fell asleep right away, but then I realized how much I missed running through every detail of every conversation I’d had that day. That longing made me anxious enough that I could no longer sleep, but that just made me miss my anxiety even more.”
Under Dr. Lee’s suggestion, Elders has halted her prescription. She is currently in the honeymoon period of her rekindled romance with persistent, life-halting anxiety.
‘We’re meant to be together forever,” says Catherine, while lovingly touching the knobs of her stove. “Who knew being unhappy is what makes me so happy?”