On Being Me…(A Post About Anxiety)

I’ve told you guys before that I am a total basketcase. I am not ashamed of it. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder that has been untreated for years since I decided that the medication that I was prescribed brought on…well…more crazy. I didn’t want to live my life dependent on some pill to keep me sane. I was pretty sure I could do it myself.

It all started on Christmas Eve (which was also the eve of my 23rd birthday) when my grandfather was rushed to the hospital by ambulance because my grandma and uncle thought he was having a stroke. He was 87 or something at the time, and had already had a couple of TIAs. By the time that I was told about any of that, however, my grandmother had been admitted also. To make a long story short, Grandpa was in perfect health but Grandma, while searching for their insurance information in her purse, lost the use of her left arm and ultimately was the one having a stroke. Bizarre. I know. And it was my birthday. And Christmas.

My grandparents lived with or near us for a good portion of my childhood. And, even in my early adulthood, they were the people I went to for EVERYTHING. My parents are great. My grandparents were saints. On my birthday, we turned off the machines. I held hands with my sister and my grandfather in the hospital I would later be employed at and, in my head, I sang, “Three little monkeys, jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head…” because my grandma used to tell me how much I used to chant those words when I was small and how, after that, she wouldn’t even teach the other grandkids that song. She hated it. But telling the story always made her laugh that sweet laugh that made everyone else smile too. I thought that being annoying, even in my head, would stop me from throwing myself out the window of her room in the ICU. Because, losing her? Well, there’s never been anything worse than that.

That’s when the panic attacks started. They happened in the middle of the night. Out of a dead sleep, I would wake, struggling to breathe, sweating. They would happen when I couldn’t remember where I had parked my car at work. They would happen when my best friend didn’t return my phone call. I was falling apart.

I was put on Zoloft and Xanax by a doctor at the hospital where I worked. She didn’t ask any questions about what was happening in my life. In fact, she asked ZERO questions. I was in the office for less than five minutes. Prescriptions were written and I was excused. Zoloft made me feel like a lunatic and Xanax made me sleepy. So, I didn’t take them. I popped a Xanax only when I was mid-panic and I managed everything with…well…I didn’t. I drank a lot of beer because it mellowed me out. And my friends drank a lot of beer. So it just made sense. And a doctor I worked for did acupuncture on me on a weekly basis to calm me down. And it helped. A lot. But I never really dealt with the root of it all. But I managed.

Two weeks before my 30th birthday, my grandfather died. And so, there I was, back in the same place I had been 7 years before. I fell into a depression. It wasn’t long before the panic attacks returned. With a vengeance. I tried to see a therapist for grief counseling because, even though I have always been a little high strung, I knew that this had to have started there. With death. With loss. But my insurance was crap and I couldn’t afford to pay $50 per week to get my head straight. So I drank more wine. And I managed.

When I started dating my husband, he was so calm. And so ZEN. And so refreshing. And my anxiety was almost non-existent. Until I got pregnant with Baby L. And then I had a hard time finding the balls to leave the house. Why? I don’t know. I just didn’t want to see anyone. Or have conversations with people. I didn’t want to be noticed. I was so scared and felt so alone in my head. That’s when I started this blog. And, oh my god, internet. I can’t tell you the difference that this community of bloggers and readers has helped me just…maintain. But I feel myself slipping.

And not because I have two kids now. And not because my husband is no longer calm and comforting. But because now there are two people in the world who depend on me for everything. And I am terrified of failing. Or losing them. I find myself sanitizing like a madwoman. And avoiding public outings because we could get into a car accident. Or someone could take them. Or they could contract leprosy. I envy those women who can dive into motherhood with an almost carefree abandon about leaving the comfort of their homes and letting their kids experience things. It isn’t that I don’t do that stuff. I do, but it makes me physically ill to think about all of the things that could happen. It is paralyzing. Because anything COULD happen. And I can’t live in fear of EVERYTHING. Can I?

I am trying. Really trying, to learn how to just relax. And I feel It is imperative, at this point, to learn to deal with my fear of loss. To stop thinking so much about what could happen and focus on what IS happening. Because what IS happening is that my kids are growing. They are learning and laughing and becoming little people. And I am afraid to drive down the street for fear that I will miss all of it. When I could miss it just the same if I don’t just DRIVE.

It is a constant struggle. And this is a very personal issue for me. But I needed to talk about it. Because I know that I am not the only one. At least. I hope I’m not the only one.



15 thoughts on “On Being Me…(A Post About Anxiety)

  1. I have not had the same degree of anxiety that you have but I have always been fairly anxious and pregnancy and being a mom and now pregnancy while being a mom has made me crazy. I burst into tears the other night because Max is just so little and fragile still and I get so overwhelmed by trying to keep him safe. You are not alone. My sister in law also has GAD and did not leave her house for a year. Through counseling and medication she is rebuilding her life and wants to have a baby soon and I worry for her knowing how crazy making that can be.

  2. No, you’re not alone. Severe anxiety is common and treatable. I urge you to look for a good therapist whol can help you learn relaxation techniques and strategies for changing your self-talk. Maybe a licensed clinical social worker…they tend to be very practical, normal people (unlike some psychs) and are results-oriented. You (and your family) deserve a calmer and not-anxiety-filled life. -Amy

  3. I’m so with you on the anxiety. I had it terribly while pregnant, and for me, it seems to hang around for several months afterwards, too. I hope you can get some help and feel calmer soon.

  4. I suffer from depression and anxiety, too. I’m also afraid of taking medication my whole life, but when my mom died I realized that I had to take it a step at a time. Right now I need meds, and for me the feelings of depression and anxiety are unbearable without meds. I am sick. Not everyone is, but I am. My mind will kill me if I let it. Anyway, it’s not all about the meds, therapy and meditation help immensely, too. I am doing well right now. I hope you can find what works best for you, but you’re not alone.

  5. I have suffered from both anxiety attacks & depression. I managed to get through raising four kids & not completely lose my mind. I had to learn how to STOP…Breathe…Rethink….Breathe….Move forward. It is like trying to reset the brain’s computer. I am only taking one Rx now. Once in awhile I feel it creeping back & I reset. I am everyday taking it, one day at a time.

  6. I can really relate to this. I take Zoloft and it actually works very well for me. I was on Paxil many many years, but it’s not a good drug for being pregnant on. To address something you said though, I don’t regard it as “depending on a pill keeping me sane.” I mean it is, in a way, but you make it sound like a weakness. I used to feel that way, but I no longer do, and you shouldn’t either. Your brain likely does not work properly (specifically your Serotonin re-uptake). It’s a chemical imbalance, and you are no more in control of it then you would be if you had diabetes and were insulin dependent. This is not a criticism… I just hate for people to suffer needlessly when there are things that can help. Zoloft may not have been right for you but there are many NSRIs or SSRIs you can try. They will take your overall level of anxiety down. If you feel you can manage it without meds, more power to you, I guess, but it’s been my experience that anxiety disorders are vicious cycles. The more anxious you get, the harder it is to get a handle on it, and it just goes round and round. And being a parent is a nerve wracking experience for even the sanest of us! lol

    The birth of my daughter also brought on lots of anxiety for me too. Like you, I am in a low level of constant terror that something will happen to my precious child and I’ll just whither and die.

    Any, the RedQueen is here if you ever wanna chat. 😉 ANd I’m very sorry about your grandparents.

    • I hope I didn’t come off sounding like I think that taking medication for this is a weakness. It was just hard for me since none of them that I tried really helped the problem. I am planning to try and get things under control with or without medication once my insurance kicks in (MB just got a new job) and hopefully, we can find the right combination of medication and therapy for it. Because, seriously, constant terror? SUCKS. Thank you so much for your comment. It makes me feel so much better to know that people get it. Because WOW, it is a heavy load to carry. XO!

      • It’s okay… I wasn’t insulted or anything. I just didn’t want you to suffer needlessly (some people DO feel it’s a personal weakness…) And I totally do understand. That kind of stress makes my stomach upset and I feel like I’ll jump out of my skin sometimes. And having kids makes it worse because you love them infinitely more than you love yourself. Always here if you wanna talk. 😉

  7. You are so not the only one. I don’t have anxiety, but I’ve been diagnosed with depression since I was in high school, and my hubby has anxiety and OCD (what a pair, right?). We both struggle a lot with it, and we go through very similar things that you do. So, that’s a very long way of saying, I get it, and you’re not alone.

  8. You are definitely not the only one! I have been struggling with the same, which just seems to come with being highly sensitive… have never had meds alwsys felt therapy helped best together with relaxation exercises! thanks for sharing!x

  9. I could really connect with this post, in part because I’m going through some of the same things mentally speaking. I was lucky enough to have a much better experience with my psychiatrist, though — if anything, I think we actually talked about me too much.

    Also, if it’s any consolation, I’ve found that the parents who worry about being good parents are actually the parents who shouldn’t really be worrying.

  10. Pingback: Panics, Aches, Randomness & a dash of Libido | Mind of Mia

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