anxiety

I Regret Nothing…Maybe

Looking back through some old (and mostly private) posts, about three years ago, I was falling apart. Depression was worse ever, anxiety was bad, there was lots of family stuff going on, etc. — just a straight up clusterfuck. And then I made things a hundred times worse when I stopped taking my antidepressant and anxiety medicine on a whim. It makes me cringe so hard now just thinking about what a straight up mess I was.

Image result for inspiration get to where i am today

Okay, yeah, inspirational type things like that really aren’t me.

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If I were going to do an inspirational type thing, it’d be something along the lines of, “Yay, you’re less of a fuck up than you were a few years ago. Go, you.” (And now I really want to make that and post it in the comments section of the next person who posts one of those memes. Oh hell, I’ll do it.)

It’s been about a year since I saw my therapist. And in the year range since I wrote anything about my own mental health. And I never dance around those issues with my friends anymore, either. (I say “dance around” because those conversations were very limited and vague.) After spilling my guts the other ways for the better part of three years, it’s been weird not saying anything and kinda losing touch with myself, if you know what I mean. I went from being very in tune with my feelings, moods, etc. to, well, not. 

That kinda bit me in the ass a little, too.

A few months ago, I started having some heart palpitations. A few times per hour, I was having palpitations. Since the only other time I have had heart palpitations is when I was having an awful anxiety/panic attack, I assumed that my heart was about to kick it.

Husband: “It’s anxiety.” 

After waiting for my heart to kick it for a week, I went to the doctor.

New doctor: “Sounds like anxiety.” 

Me: I don’t think so…

<refers me to cardiologist, palpitations worsen>

Cardiologist: “I really think this is due to anxiety, but I’ll do an ECG.” 

That turned out fine, of course, but I still didn’t think it was anxiety. I figured that as someone who has dealt with anxiety pretty much forever, that I would know if anxiety were the culprit. I mean, yes, I was having anxiety and very much on edge a lot, but still…that wasn’t how it typically presented in me.

Psychiatrist: “What’s new in your world?” 

I tell her about the palpitations.

Psychiatrist: “Oh yeah, that’s anxiety, it might be time for you to start back taking a daily medication again.” 

Me, in my head: IT’S NOT ANXIETY.

Me: I don’t think it is. Doesn’t seem right. 

Psychiatrist: Maybe it’s not, but let’s give this a try for a month and see what changes.

I agreed.

Within a few days, the palpitations were gone. Hmph. Being the person that I am, I skipped them for a couple of days, and lo and behold, palpitations started back. So everyone was right except for me on this one.

That definitely showed me that I’m not as on top of the anxiety (or any of the other mental health stuff) the way that I was. Maybe if I had been mood tracking (the tracker goes through a bunch of symptoms on a sliding scale to show how you’re doing with anxiety, depression, etc.), I’d have put it together on my own without wasting a few hundred bucks on having my heart checked. (Or maybe not, it’s possible that I’d have never fingered something I associate with attacks with run of the mill anxiety.) Same thing with my moods — when I’m not diligent about tracking those and being aware of triggers, it’s easy for things to go south and get super irritable. Whereas if I’m more aware, I can tap out or do whatever it is I need to do to stay right. Not so much tapping out these days.

So, I guess I should add this to my New Year’s Resolutions list — track shit, lest I go in clusterfuck mode again. I’ve got an app downloaded to my phone, plus I was gifted a nice adult coloring book/marker set for Christmas. Everyone says it’s really calming, so we’ll see. I don’t anticipate having the patience for it, but it does look pretty cool.

Really, though, I think it’s extra important to be on top of things right now. As excited as I am about getting a cochlear implant, I know the risks. I know that I might lose the rest of my hearing in the implanted ear, that the sound quality might be awful (think sensory issues), that relearning to hear just might not work out, etc. I’m willing to take those risks because the possible benefit is huge, but I know that if things don’t work out or it gets too overwhelming or whatever, that I could be prone to falling into a bad depression. I guess that’s true any day, but more so with that situation, I’d think.

So, here’s to getting in touch with my brain again, so that I avoid the cringe in future posts. Scratch that — there’s always going to be cringe with me — so I’ll shoot for avoiding batshit cringe.

Next up — time to do a catch up on the family that doesn’t involve talking about what cute/funny thing they said. As much as I enjoy doing the Dorky Mom stuff, it almost pains me at times to only show my family/myself through that one lens. That’s the nature of the content and all, but still…

Till then.

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OMG, I’m Dying!

People with anxiety know how it is — the least little thing can mean impending doom health-wise. Headaches are brain tumors, a slight stomach pain could be cancer. Bluish colored streaks on one’s neck could be God knows what, but surely awful (or it could be getting your recently dyed hair wet).

Today I was riding down the highway, on my way to pick up Baby Girl from preschool, when my bottom suddenly felt hot all over. Alarmed, I tried to feel around to see if I were suddenly bleeding out or something. That would be bad, because not only would I be bleeding out, the other car seat has been dismantled because Baby Girl intentionally puked all over it last night (and laughed) and Sam would have no way of getting her because I’d be at the hospital with the non-puked on car seat. Shit!

After swerving off the edge of the road and determining that there was no blood, I continued panicking. Why was my butt having a hot flash? Cancer? Maybe something slightly less bad like a side effect of one of my medications? Or an infection that I would have to figure out how to deal with on my own, since ain’t no way I’m going to a doctor for an infected butt region?

I freaked out some more, trying to come up with more reasons for my bottom being hot all over, and debated on going into a gas station bathroom, which I rarely do because that makes me feel like I’m dying, and checking myself out. Maybe I could use my phone camera to get a good look, only what if I accidentally hit the wrong buttons and went live on Facebook or something? Gah.

And then it hit me — we have the ability to heat the seats in our car. Being someone who suffers from chronic swampassitis for 6 or 7 months of the year, and having only bought this car around April (which is the beginning of the swampassitis season in SC), I’ve never used this particular option. And I probably never will. (And, side rant, why the hell isn’t there an option for the seats being air conditioned? If they can be heated, they should be able to be cooled, right?) So, maybe I wasn’t dying or anything, maybe the thing that heats the car seats was on.

I called Sam. “How do I check to see if the heated seat thing is on in the car? Is there a button or something?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” he said. “I turned it on. The button is underneath the radio and all that stuff.” I found it, saw the green light was lit, and turned it off. The heat on my bottom went away almost immediately. Crisis diverted!

Have you went into crisis mode over something that ended up being silly lately?

I Hate Coming Up With Titles Sometimes.

You’ll rarely see me post about Humpback Hump Day Wednesdays since I’m a SAHM and the days run together so much that I don’t often know whether it’s Tuesday or Thursday without checking the date on my iPhone. But I was totally aware and feeling the “How is it not even Wednesday?” thing yesterday.

The heightened anxiety of last week has turned into some mood shifts, ending (temporarily, I hope) my shit mood-free streak.

I think diving so much into the “I’m gonna teach, gotta get a game plan, gotta catch up on everything that I’ve forgotten or that has changed in the last 10 years, gotta plan everything else I want to do before BG starts kindergarten, time to start redecorating my house, gotta do (insert a million other things here)” deal didn’t help with the direction of things, either. When some people say, “I’m gonna plan stuff out, I’ve got plenty of time…” they take it slow. When I say it, what that often means is, “I have to do/know everything NOW.” Doing everything is not possible, but my brain gets stuck in that gear, which ultimately leads to feelings of frustration and failure when I can’t do everything and nosedive, and that doesn’t help when I’m already taxed over anxiety.

(Upon rereading this, maybe that was all a bit of hypomania. Time to start mood tracking again.)

Speaking of things not helping keep up a good/healthy mood, there’s Baby Girl over the last few days. To put it nicely, she’s been hell on wheels. “Mommy, I want ____!” and then whatever it was she wanted five minutes prior to me delivering becomes the last possible thing she could want. “I don’t wike it, Mommy, I want ____!” This is followed by a banshee wailing tantrum, as it’s become so offensive that I’ve given her what she originally asked for. And each one of those shrieks is like an ice pick in my temple.

Quite a few Klonopin have been consumed over the past week, and that bottle has been largely untouched otherwise.

Last night is when the shit really hit the fan for me mood wise. I was already pretty much done with the day when I realized I had screwed up something.

One of the “Gotta do it NOW” things I’ve been working on is putting together an online portfolio of my freelance writing samples, websites I’ve designed, etc. since most writing gigs I’ve been checking out prefer a portfolio over links to random samples. I’ve been gathering links and screenshots so I’ll have what I need to put everything in one (hopefully) professional looking place.

And then my Chromebook started acted up on Monday, (which is what I prefer working on since I can continue to ruin my posture by sprawling out on the couch to do computer stuff), so I put everything I’d saved into my cloud drive thing and then powerwashed the laptop. That did the trick to keep my laptop from freezing up and crashing every five minutes…for an hour. Sigh.

I found a gig I wanted to apply for last night that needed a WordPress expert who has writing and editing experience to migrate their content, spiff things up, and edit their existing content. It’s part-time and sounded perfect for me. Even though my online portfolio wasn’t up, I had saved a document full of links to my work as well as screenshots of an awesome looking WP website I designed (not this .com one, in case you’re snickering right now) that has since been deleted. I typed up an email and started to attach stuff, and guess what? Nothing I thought I’d saved to my cloud drive was there. I powerwashed all that stuff away, too. Fuuuuuuck. Creating a document of links again is easy enough (although annoying to go through), but the screenshots of that website, proof of my work, are gone. As a last ditch effort, I did a cache search, and that was unhelpful as well.

If you’re guessing that’s the part where I lost it, you’d be right. Much cussing, stomping, and door slamming happened. Negative thoughts were spiraling and I could feel myself getting on the brink of something bad. I grabbed a klonopin and tried to calm myself down, but that wasn’t happening. That fuck up would’ve set me off enough without having already had a difficult day/week. I headed for the fridge to grab a bottle of rum out of the freezer. Maybe I’d be in bed asleep when everyone else got home, but whatever.

And then I had a light bulb moment: yoga. I was supposed to start classes with a friend, but haven’t signed up yet. One day I was gung ho, it was on my list of all the things I was gonna do, the next day, I’m thinking, “My fat ass bending around people and shit? Hell no.” But no one was home to witness that atrocity, so I pulled up YouTube on the TV and found a yoga video that was geared towards anxiety and tried my best to follow along for about 15 minutes. And it helped. Well, with a combination of Klonopin (which is usually good for taking the edge off), it helped. I’m sure I didn’t do half of the stuff the instructor was doing correctly, but I could still feel myself relaxing and calming my breathing. Granted, it wasn’t a magic “make all the bad feelings go away” deal, but I was able to regroup and calm my ass down before the family got home.

Even though it’s been a tough few days, I was thinking about talking over this with the therapist, and I realized that I did end up pulling myself together, and I did so by trying something I was very resistant to trying, which feels important. Silver lining and all that.

Now bring on Friday. Puh-lease.

The Struggle Is Real

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is Struggle, so I’m going to vent a little about my mental health struggles.

I mentioned in another post that anxiety has been a bitch lately. That’s still the case. I can be doing something as simple as cooking (and normal cooking, not burn-the-house-down-with-a-grease-fire cooking) and the sirens start going off. While having anxiety is a normal thing for me, it’s still crazy how quickly I can go from being good or at least okay to wigging out in the blink of an eye. Over nothing.

Have you ever gone out on a float in the ocean and realized that you were too far from the shore before? You know that feeling of panic that completely washes over you and stilts your breathing and makes you feel like there’s a heavy weight on your chest, you’re done for and all? It goes something like that, but again, over nothing, which adds so much frustration to a sucky situation. (In case you’re wondering, no, I never got lost at sea, but before I was Anxious Mom, I was Anxious Little Girl.)

The psychiatrist I see prescribed two additional medications to take for anxiety regularly — one for during the day and one at night — but neither has helped. The nighttime one makes me not function the next day, and the kids require me to be functional, so that one’s off the table. The daytime one also makes me drowsy during the day (but not completely nonfunctional at least), but I haven’t noticed much of a difference with it, either.

The therapist and I have been trying to get to the bottom of this anxiety that seems to have no reason, but no luck there, either. After pushing me a lot last week on a topic I’ve been mostly avoiding for the past year, the only thing that did was trigger some depression to go on top of my anxiety sundae. Otherwise, I’d been doing pretty good mood-wise since restarting one of my meds. I considered asking for a session this week, but decided against it out of fear it’d just make things worse. Better to give it a chance to slack off before we pick up that conversation again than to get into it and make things go from bad to worse.

So, yeah, the struggle is real.

dwight-the-office-struggle-is-real

Well, maybe not quite that real.

On a brighter note, we go on vacation in less than two weeks, so hopefully getting to kick back by the ocean (even if the kicking back is just for a few minutes at a time, because kids) and seeing one of my good friends will do a lot to boost my mood and help me chill a little. And if not, I see the psychiatrist when I get back.

(We’re at the end now, so do I need to post a comment saying “Yo, reader who says ‘there are worse things happening, get over yourself, blah blah blah,’ don’t even bother because you’ll go straight to the trash bin again”? Oh wait, got it covered now. I hate that I have to include these little parenthetical chunks of text at the end of my posts sometimes to explain that I’m not tolerating certain shit, that I have a sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humor, so don’t go all nuts over a joke, that….maybe I’ll just shut up now.)

From Anxious Mom To…Anxious A**hole?

While reading some stuff on anxiety last night, I came across a post (well, article since it was on what seemed to be a legit site, but it read more like a blog post) that talked about “indulging” your anxiety and how doing so can make you an asshole. And, if you do indulge in your symptoms, then you ultimately don’t deserve relationships at all. After all, one can’t expect their friends and family to be inconvenienced by episodes of anxiety. Or depression, as depression was mentioned, too.

No, I’m not going to post the link, as the website doesn’t deserve the traffic, but I am going to rant a bit. Typically I would just roll my eyes and move along. There’s always going to be a few idiots who think it’s appropriate to say really stupid things, but in this case, there was a shit ton of comments, and in many of the ones I read people agreed and voiced how tired they were of people playing the “anxiety card.” That was one was new to me — first we had the Race Card, then the Woman Card, now Anxiety Card. So, I’m going to do the rant thing a little and maybe someone with similar thinking will come across this and take heed. Probably not, though.

First of all, “indulging one’s anxiety symptoms”? Typically indulging refers to someone getting/doing something they want. Indulging in chocolate. Indulging by buying your grandkids a bunch of toys. Indulging by doing something you want, whether it’s a healthy something or not. But no one with anxiety or depression (or any other mental illness, since I’m sure that displaying symptoms of those would also warrant being accused of playing the (Whatever) Card and inconveniencing people) wants this. A lot of it is out of their scope of control.

Here is a list of general anxiety disorder symptoms from good ol’ WebMD, also known as the anxious person’s hell, in case you’re not clear on the frivolities people suffering from an anxiety disorder are indulging in:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Not being able to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

The last time I checked, feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was having a heart attack, feeling like I’d be en route to the ER if I didn’t know better, isn’t exactly indulging. Taking medication, avoiding triggers, and all the breathing skills in the world don’t do a damn thing sometimes, especially for the anxiety episodes that come out of the blue with no apparent cause.

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Definitely not how “indulging” anxiety feels.

I wonder, when someone with a physical illness experiences symptoms that they have little to no control over, is it indulging then? “Oh, please, you’re just indulging your laryngitis by not being able to talk in a loud clear voice.” Or something equally as stupid.

Second, the notion that friends and family should “dump your ass” if you “give in” to multiple episodes of anxiety is just ridiculous. If that’s the way someone feels, then maybe they’re the one with the problem. If they can’t see past the inconvenience of dinner plans being canceled or having to postpone game night until next Tuesday, and have a little compassion upon hearing the reason the plans were canceled, then is that really a relationship someone should want to keep up? Yet the writer of the article made it out so that the people with anxiety were the assholes here, the ones who were the toxic people.

Oh, and when people with an anxiety disorder back out of things, it’s not because they want to risk further isolating themselves. It’s because they can’t do whatever the thing you want them to do without feeling absolutely miserable. And wouldn’t that be kind of a party killer anyway? Panic attacks between shots of tequila doesn’t sound fun for anyone.

sheldon cooper big bang theory

Yeah, the irritability and mood stuff can be difficult to deal with, but again, would you shame someone that was suffering from a physical illness for acting pissy every so often? Even when they feel terrible for it, take responsibility, make amends, and take steps to prevent it from coming out around others?

Third, stop the tough love bullcrap. It. Does. Not. Work. Why, why, why would someone think that it’s appropriate to tell people suffering from an anxiety disorder to stop doing the things that help keep them grounded and get through the day? Apparently telling the anxious person in your life to kick that shit to the curb or be kicked to the curb themselves is a form of tough love. No, that’s just bullshit for saying that you’re so selfish that you don’t want to be inconvenienced by other people’s problems, that if everything can’t be on your terms, then you’re not interested.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of this, let me go ahead and say — for the record, yes, people with an anxiety disorder can be assholes, because I’m sure someone will pipe up and say “Well, I know someone with an anxiety disorder and they’re definitely an asshole.” But guess what? They aren’t assholes because of their mental health problems anymore than the asshole three doors down is an asshole because he has diabetes — they’re just assholes who happen to have an anxiety disorder. Maybe they like to blame treating someone like shit on anxiety or another problem to try to get a free pass to do whatever the hell they want, but know that it isn’t so much the disorder as it is the pre-existing asshole condition. Certainly don’t suggest that all people with a mental illness are assholes because they’re experiencing a symptom.

Let’s stop with the “playing the (whatever) card.” Spewing that bullshit does nothing more than create shame and make it less likely that people struggling will forgo or continue to forgo seeking treatment.