Sunday, July 12, 2009

On Anxiety

Hello friends!
When I was in high school (my Junior and Senior years) I suffered from a severe bout of depression. I lost a lot of weight and ended up at 80lbs. I had no interest in eating, no interest in life in general. I remember crying all the time, feeling guilty for the world's troubles, and the full inability to make any decision. Just before I finally got help (through therapy), I spent a full week trying to get to school on NO SLEEP. I couldn't sleep no matter what I tried and my mind was so full of chatter and thoughts...I just couldn't stop THINKING. I would lay in bed and plan, plan, plan. I would think about the future and college and think about what each day would be like...going so far as to plan each day from what I would eat for breakfast and what I would do for each minute of each day. I was looking for a sense of control when I knew my life was going to soon be drastically different. For the first time, I didn't know what was in front of me and I was terrified (although I didn't know that's what it was at the time). One morning I got out of the bed and went to select my clothes for the day. I was exhausted, and the night before found me pondering the question of whether it would hurt a lot if I just stabbed myself with a pair of scissors. (Hello!!! BIG FRIGGIN' RED FLAG!!!! NOT NORMAL THOUGHTS!) I sat there for the whole hour I had and when my Dad came in (he drove me to school in the morning) I was still in my pajamas and was crying. I couldn't decide what to wear and it was the hardest decision in the world at that moment. My Dad looked a little confused and tenderly selected an outfit for me to put on. I went to the school nurse for help later that day. I was later diagnosed with not only depression, but with anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder (the non-stop thinking/planning). I can say now that after therapy I was able to use much of what I learned there to forge ahead and find a happy place in my life again. Since then, I've battled depression and anxiety issues on and off. Usually during times of great change. So, when I got pregnant I thought to myself "here we go! I'd better be on the lookout!". Well, it's finally reared it's ugly head. Several weeks ago I started noticing that aside from being tired all the time (which makes you feel horrible anyway) I just couldn't sleep. My mind was filled with that familiar sound of chatter and runaway thoughts. I lost interest in food. I became completely unable to make decisions. I became simply overwhelmed with life in general. I started to get insomnia...the chances I DID have to sleep found me UNABLE to sleep. And the rest of the time I just felt anxious and nervous. Not sadness or guilt this time around...just plain ANXIOUS. I've found myself wringing my hands and breathing hard. That feeling you get before a big play, or a big game...wanting to do well...the rush of adrenaline. Only I was sitting in my living room. The fact that it rained buckets almost every day didn't help. I already didn't want to leave the house, much less go out in sheets of water pouring down on us. After a small fight with my husband, I finally realized that the fact that I was blowing the tiniest things out of proportion is just not my personality...I was constantly annoyed and irritable as well as overwhelmed over nothing. That next day I called my doctor and immediately began taking prozac (does great for me in terms of evening out my emotions and is supposed to help with the anxiety) and I began working with a therapist. After 2 weeks on the medication, I'm starting to feel better. My emotions are what I'll call "smooth." No more extreme feelings of "overwhelm" or annoyance. I feel even-keeled again! The anxiousness is finally smoothing out as well. My breathing feels more normal and I don't feel so nervous all the time...which feels so freeing! I've had one therapy session so far; the therapist is so nice and friendly and was full of good advice. So, last week I joined a "mommy group" in my neighborhood and it felt so good to 1. get out of the house and 2. to make new friends and talk about all this stuff. The therapist also advised me to have at least 20 minutes of exercise per day where I sweat...to get my endorphins flowing and make me feel better. She also recommended I try to get out for 1 outing per day even if it is something very simple. Just to keep the chatter in my mind to a minimum. The fact I'd been sitting around the house day in and day out alone with my thoughts only made the problem worse. I'm sure in the weeks ahead we will find many other things to discuss that I have going on in my life and I'm so grateful to be moving forward in a proactive way. I'm writing this post so that if any of you out there are going through something similar but are thinking "oh, it will go away" or "oh, it's just my hormones" ...you'll want to take care of yourself. Don't wait too long for things to get worse before you grab control. Depression and anxiety can sneak up on you over the course of time until all the symptoms start screaming at you at the same time. It can go on for years if you let it (like it did for me back in high school). Because I've been through it before, I tell myself "these feelings are a mirage...a hallucination from imbalanced chemicals and hormones that I can now move forward and fix." My wish for you, if you are going through something similar, is to feel no shame in seeking help in whatever form that may be to set you back on the track toward peace and joy. Don't allow yourself to suffer...the same way you wouldn't let yourself suffer if you had the flu or some sort of physical illness. I'm already feeling much better and am proud I jumped to get help early on before things got much worse. Much love to you all! I'll be here soon with hopefully some more fun and less serious posts!

14 comments :

The Kanter's said...

Thank you for being so honest Megan. I have always felt that by sharing ones challenges you take one step further to overcoming them. I'm glad that you are feeling better!

Katie said...

Megan, Thank you so much for posting this! I am 28 weeks pregnant and have been following your blog for several months now, to look at your adorable photography, nursery decor etc. I have been so worried that I will have an Anxiety/OCD relapse post-partum, and it may happen. It is just always nice to know you aren't alone... Thanks again, I love your posts and I am on a mission to figure out how you created your custom Blog Title!! :-)

Kathleen said...

Great post Megan! I suffer from anxiety as well and getting some help was all it took for me to learn how to control it on my own. I'm glad to hear you are doing better now!

Anonymous said...

Hey Meg, I wrote on Facebook too, but forgot to mention I totally recommend Stroller Strides! Saved my life! Not even joking! Strollerstrides.com and you can find what is closest. Hope things are getting better! :-) Heather

Ashlie said...

Dear Megan,

What you are describing sounds like PPMD, or Post Partum Mood Disorder. PPMD includes depression, anxiety, OCD, and lots of other post-pregnancy related disorders.

Please see www.ppmdsupport.com

I'm glad you are getting out of the house, and hope it stops raining. You may also want to invest in a light box.

I went through it, and will be thinking of you,
Ashlie

Lor said...

Sorry to hear that. But you did what you had to do so things will get better. I had this fits of anxiety twice in my life in periods of stress and was very scared (light-headed, short breathing, loss of sensation in my fingers etc.), I even called the doctor in emergency once. My doctor called it a "panick attack". It disappeared right away when the reasons for this stress were gone, and it happened a second time at another stressful moment of my life, but I know I have to keep an eye on that.

fattyamy said...

Wow, this post has really hit a nerve with me. Thankyou for talking about such deep topics on your blog. This, like a few other posts of yours, have made me hit the breaks and have a 'get real' moment.

Joy said...

Thanks for sharing, Megan. Having a new baby really is harder than I thought it would be, and I find myself breaking down in tears quite often, but thankfully those moments don't last long.

Christy said...

Unbelievable - in the fall I suffered one of the most severe bouts I have had with anxiety, panic, and depression. I lost 20 pounds in matter of a couple of months, was very sick...it compounded from the stress of my life during that time, and got completely out of control. Right now we are pregnant with our first baby, and I just hit the six month. Today I realized that something very similar is starting up with my anxiety and panic, as I couldn't even make it into town today and ended up coming home before I got there. Your post reminds me that I can and have to get through it and sooner rather than later - I just have to find out how to do it while pregnant as methods used before can't be used right now... Anyway - thank you...

Katherine said...

Megan, I understand why Chris says he is proud. I had never read back through your blog and truly did not know all that you had gone through. You are such a strong person and you have surrounded yourself with a partner who will support you - through thick and thin. Life is exceptionally rough at times. I have experienced similar lows in my life, but yet I have not been so brave as to share those thoughts and feelings so others could hopefully benefit from the insight. I really do applaud you........in many ways. You can find me up at odd times, when I am stressing, anxiety ridden and can't sleep........check on facebook - maybe we'll have a great conversation some night. Big hugs to you!!!

LMJ said...

Thank you for this post Megan - your honesty is amazing and selfless. I am so glad that you were able to recognize what was "going on" and get help, and I am so glad that you shared your experience, without embarrassment or self-pity, with us.

I have a sister who has suffered from depression throughout her life and recently had a baby. I don't think she is as self-aware as you are about her depression. This was a good reminder for me to check in with her regularly and make sure that she doing well. Thank you!

Stephanie said...

Hi Megan, What a great post. I'm slow to commenting, but I just wanted to say that having a newborn is hard! I don't think you really know that until you go through it yourself. My biggest problem is the isolation that occurs -- you spend all day doing little tasks and suddenly the day is gone! I too have suffered from anxiety -- generally it's triggered by external factors (I had a horrible job with a horrible boss, couldn't sleep at night, wound up losing 10 pounds b/c of my lack of interest in eating, etc). So I definitely know what you're going through. Oh and I know what you mean by the weather bringing you down - Sacramento is stinking hot in the summer, so I can really only get outside early in the morning (and that's not always possible thanks to the baby's schedule). Anyway, Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn said...

Megan, I found your blog while I was pregnant and have loved reading it since I was due around the same time as you (I had a little girl on May 8th). Now that she's here I've love reading about your trip through parenthood because there's so much that I can relate to. I love to read about the times that are so precious, but I also like to hear about the times that can be a bit rough as well. I think that too often those times are glossed over and it can make people who are going through a rough time feel awkward and alone. I so much appreciate your honesty and your courage in talking about everything. THANKS!!

Heather said...

Good luck to you. I'm glad you're feeling better. This can just be such a wonderful, but emotionally up and down, and TIRING time! Your whole life has changed, and there's just a new definition now to what "normal is"...at least that's how I felt! Your daughter is adorable!

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