Accept it…and then challenge it!
About 5 months ago I said enough is enough.
I was miserable.
How can you be miserable with a beautiful baby in your arms? Well… part of it is you keep saying to yourself, “what the hell is wrong with me; I have everything I’ve ever dreamed about.” That certainly doesn’t help because you look for evidence to confirm that you are just crazy. Then I think of others who have it far worse. So, of course, I have no right to even entertain that something may be wrong.
For me, it was pre-existing anxiety, mixed with post-baby anxiety, and a crap ton of “what the hell just happened.”
I had a rough delivery and let’s just call breastfeeding a disaster. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know the struggle I went through during those times. Each event, each disappointment or heartbreak, chipped at me. It chipped at me until I did not feel like me anymore.
One day I realized it, I couldn’t get into the car to go to a funeral. I couldn’t leave my house without a tremendous amount of stress and impending doom. I was spending more time, in my head, thinking about everything that could go terribly wrong.
I have OCD. My obsession is making sure people I love are okay and that includes trying to prevent death. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I am not the grim reaper, therefore, I do not get to choose any of it. I have no control and that just fuels the anxiety. It destroys me sometimes. I beg the people I love to take care of themselves so if only the slightest bit, I can find some relief that something terrible may not happen. I am exhausted by it.
I’ve been through some rough times. Between an abusive marriage and infertility, I’ve have somethings that have left marks on me. They’ve changed me. I am not the same person who walked down the aisle in 2012 to a man who eventually belittled me to nothing. I am not the same person who stuck herself with her first injection in an attempt to create a baby. I am forever changed. Some of the changes are amazing. I am stronger and I can and will fight for myself and those I love.
I also have weaknesses. I am an anxious soul. My security has been robbed from me. I react to innocent things, inappropriately, sometimes forgetting I am safe now. I worry over every detail. If you ever carried my daughter’s diaper bag, you know is overstuffed. I can’t leave my house without almost everything that is in it because I will worry over the “what if.” It is just easier to carry a heavy bag. It impacts me getting out the house, it impacts where I go and what I do.
5 months ago… in a desperate place, I reached out for help. I started taking medication and I am seeing a counselor.
I CAN BREATHE.
I’ve turned the lights off when I go to bed. I’ve driven on the highway two times (I know that is little but it is huge for me). I got myself to the dentist. I started to talk to my husband about it more. I really have started to recognize why I feel the way I do . I no longer clench my jaw throughout the day. For the first time in Claire’s life at 8 months old, I took a nap at the same time she did (I always feared being home alone with her and falling asleep). I feel like I am coming back to life.
I am practicing living in the moment. Until now, when I would have time to myself it would be spent obsessing about terribly depressive “what ifs”. Now, I just try to focus on what I am doing. Sometimes, that literally means, I say, “I am drying my hair.” When I say what I am doing, I stay in the “now”. It keeps me from wondering and spiraling down a hole of absolute despair. I think all of us would really benefit from staying in the “now.”
I am working on figuring out what works for me. As a bonus, I’ve lost 16 pounds. When I had my daughter, I quickly lost all the baby weight (or water). About 4 months later I realized I was quickly putting weight on. Another sign that something just was not right with me. Now I am 2 pounds away from pre-baby weight. I have to say that I think taking care of my emotional health has absolutely had a positive impact on my physical health.
Unfortunately, there is a downside. Because I have been working so hard on fighting anxiety, currently, I have more random panic attacks. However, it is a good trade for the day to day sense of terror I was living in. I can breathe most days. And most days pass without a panic attack. When they do hit, they hit me hard. I am learning what helps me get out of them. Each one is an opportunity for me to get better at fighting. Sometimes, I completely lose the battle, I crash and burn. It’s okay, I still got through it, proving to myself that I can survive it each time. I’ve learned I just cannot drink caffeine, some of my worst attacks occur right after having soda. I am learning about me and what works and doesn’t work. You’d think after almost 30 years of life I would have this down by now. It is a never ending process and honestly I’m glad I’m not always the same as I was years ago.
I’ve taken baby steps to get back to myself. My big goal for this summer is to be able to handle the car ride to Maine with my little family. That will be a lot of highways and I am terrified. I cannot let my terror keep me from doing things. So even if it is just one trip at a time, I will eventually be able to take my daughter anywhere.
It is 2017; this world has so much to offer. There are so many options out there to help people live a happy and healthy life. I do not have to live like this. Anxiety will always be a piece of me, but I can fight. I can fight it each time it pops up. I may lose some battles, but I have to promise myself that I will win more than I lose. To me that makes it all worth it! I cannot and will not be controlled again. Anxiety no longer gets take the reigns. Since I’ve been in an abusive relationship, I compare anxiety to the abuse. My own body abuses itself sometimes, it tries to control me. I absolutely refuse to let that happen again.
The point of me sharing my story is to hopefully help someone else realize they can challenge their anxiety too. So if you suffer from anxiety, accept it. I had to call it what is before I was ever able to help myself. I got comfortable where I was at the time. I thought I could manage my anxiety. Do not get cozy and comfortable, it will not just “go away”. I have to accept that you have anxiety and sometimes it will impact me. However, I do not have to accept that my everyday quality of life has to be impacted. I have options and so do you. I am not saying everything will be peachy, but it will be a lot better than where you are living now!