Anxiety is one of the emotional changes that afflicts women in menopause and perimenopause. (Been there, done that.) Even if you have never been anxious in the past, free-floating anxiety can have you worrying about anything and everything. Add in the legitimate crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and we can peg the needle in the red zone of the nervousness meter.
So what to do? Put ‘anxiety’ in the Search box here on the blog site to read all posts about anxiety and ways to deal with it. If those methods don’t work in these terrifying times, Theresa-Venus and I may have inadvertently stumbled on a solution. Please know that this blog entry is at least 50% tongue in cheek and that I do not recommend the info below as a better solution than therapy, meditation (lots of apps out there that are free), online connection with friends, pets, deep breathing, and humor. In fact, humor is a huge help in these times. See additonal caveat at the end ot this blog post.
Some years ago, she and I were on a whitewater river trip through the Grand Canyon. Along with our river gear, we had cute little pillboxes separated into day and night sections. Daytime pill compartments held prescription meds and supplements. At night, we took a mild sleeping aid to get to sleep and Advil to ensure that our aching muscles didn’t wake us.
One of the biggest whitewater days happened halfway through the trip. We’d been down the Colorado River several times before, but this stretch always made us nervous. On one memorable trip, our boat had flipped in a rapid named “Hermit” on that very stretch of river. So it was understandable that we’d be anxious about running it.
That day, we made it through without a hitch. When we got to camp, we shared with one another that we’d not been anxious at all. In fact, we’d been mellow and relaxed all day. Turned out that both of us had accidentally taken our “night” pills instead of our “day” pills that morning. We filed that experience away under “Funny Stories” as well as “Might Come in Handy Sometime.”
So if anxiety gets to be overwhelming, diphenhydramine just might be an option. (Brand name: Benadryl. It’s also the active ingredient in Sominex and other non-habit forming over-the-counter sleep aids.)
I tested it just the other day when I had binged on way too much coronavirus news. I popped a 25 mg tablet and cruised through the day like a 50’s housewife on Valium. It worked like a charm and broke the cycle. I haven’t taken any since but it comforts me knowing that those little pink pills are sitting in my medicine cabinet. Just sayin’!
Caveat: A reader sent me the following missive after reading this blog entry:
“I just wanted to say I find that blog about taking Benadryl for anxiety to be extremely irresponsible. Do you really want to suggest that instead of developing tools to manage and deal with our feelings during this time that we lean on over the counter medications meant to be used for allergies as a way to cope with the pandemic? What about mindfulness practice, exercise, therapy, breathing exercises, talking to a friend or therapist, writing, petting your dog, cat, other furry friend, being in nature? Of course sometimes it is appropriate to intervene with medications, AFTER consulting with your doctor and then taking appropriate medications for your specific condition. Never would I put it out there to the public so casually that you could use Benadryl to check out during this crisis. That advice can easily be abused. I hope that you will rethink this and perhaps write an addendum to your blog.”
She’s right, of course. That’s not what I want to suggest. All of the solutions she mentions (as well as all the ones mentioned in previous blog posts about anxiety) are our go-to first-line solutions. Writing, journaling, and artwork work best for me. And remember, always, always, check with your trusted health care professional before taking anything. That includes over-the-counter drugs as well as herbal remedies and supplements. Be well. We will get through this.