I can’t pinpoint when my anxiety started but I can tell you when I realized something was not right. It was a day in early August when my husband and his employees moved their offices out of our house.
Now you would think that I would be thrilled about that. I mean, we had dreamed of having our house and privacy back for so long. But when I was faced with that reality, something fragile, a tiny thread that was my last connection to logic and rationale, snapped.
The day of the move, we loaded boxes into his pickup. As he backed out of the garage, I felt irrationally frightened. It was as if I was watching the one person who could save me, had been saving me, abandon me. I felt crushed.
When the external garage door closed, my smile faded and my waving hand fell to my side. My face crumpled. My breath caught in my throat and I felt the tears prick and burn my eyes. I took a huge gulp of air and started sobbing. In an effort to find comfort and to try to run away from the problem, I, in the style of my childhood, raced into our bedroom shutting the door on the fly. I threw myself on to our bed, curled up in the fetal position and cried. I was thinking that I should be happy but I clearly was not.
A few months prior to this, I was confronted with a situation that undid months and months of my emotional progress. My husband and I were having an alcohol fueled (tsk, tsk! I know better!) heated discussion about it and I remember saying, “This is too hard. Why does this have to be so fucking hard?! Oh my God! I wish I was dead.”
I want to be crystal clear, dear readers, I was not thinking of suicide as I do not believe in it for spiritual reasons. I also knew I needed to be here and stay healthy for my little girl. The truth is, I just didn’t want to be here anymore, on Earth. If I, say, happened to be in an auto accident, I wouldn’t fight to stay here. The thing is, at that moment, I was in such intense, deep emotional pain and I couldn’t see my way out of it. I just wanted the pain to stop.
Looking back, my outburst was a verbal cry for help. I’m still not sure exactly who the cry was meant to be heard by; me or him. But, in the blink of an eye, the external and internal conversations moved on. Sadly, even that admission wasn’t enough for me to understand how far I had fallen from my true self.
I told one of my besties about my admission and she, professionally trained to look for these signs, questioned me intently about it. I told her what I believed and that was I would NEVER commit suicide. I didn’t believe in it as I knew that I would have to relive every craptastic thing I had gone through in this lifetime again. No. No thank you. Not for all the high-end coffee in Costa Rica. What I didn’t know is that over the next few months my chemical imbalance and emotional health would continue to deteriorate until I barely recognized my emotional self.
40 million adults in the United States have anxiety[i]. One-third get help. That leaves two-thirds, TWO-THIRDS, that don’t.
What I also ignored or attributed to something else was the physical symptoms. My hands would uncontrollably shake, my mouth would be dry, my heart would race. I even went to the doctor thinking I had high blood pressure. My insomnia worsened, I cried alot and I had the most illogical, neurotic thoughts. I found myself being overly impatient and quick to anger, especially with our daughter. I chalked this up to just being stressed or needing a night or two off from being a momma.
One night in late August my husband came home late, very late. It’s nothing new, in fact, it’s quite normal and it shouldn’t have affected me like it did, but that night I was a train wreck. I was neurotic and imagined all sorts of heinous activities on his part. I was convinced he was doing something nefarious or was dead. I called his phone and had my irrational suspicions confirmed when he didn’t answer. I sent a text to him saying that I was frightened. My heart was beating a million miles a minute. I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. A few minutes later he walked through the door.
I raced into his arms, viscerally sobbing in relief. I hugged him like he was my breath. I shook uncontrollably and babbled incoherently through a deluge of tears. He hugged me and said, “Honey. Honey! What is going on? This is not like you. Honey. What is going on?!” I pulled back and relief-sobbed that I had been imagining all sorts of horrible things happening to him and because of him. I told him I was so frightened. He continued to hug me and said this wasn’t like me.
I clung to him in our bed that night like I was his second skin. I needed to talk with him about what I was feeling but when…when? The next morning, after only a few hours (or minutes) of sleep, I completely lost my shit in the shower. I felt completely overwhelmed and paralyzed. My best friend, the one I confided in whole-heartedly, my forever husband, was someone I was now struggling to speak with.
I exited the shower, robotically dried myself off and burst into tears again. I was miserable. I wrapped the towel loosely around myself and walked, zombie-like, into our bedroom. My husband, just clearing the sleep from his eyes, took one look at me and said, “Oh my God. Honey! What’s wrong!?”
My tears broke free and I sobbed while saying, “I don’t know. I think I’m broken. I need help. Something’s wrong with me. I thought I was doing ok, but after last night and this morning, I know I’m not. I’m having horrible thoughts and my neuroticism is not fair to you. I think I’m suffering from PTSD or anxiety. I need help. I’m going to call my midwife about anxiety medicine and try to find a counselor today. I’m a fucking mess.”
Then I cleared the tears from my eyes, wiped the snot from face with the back of my arm and locked my swollen, blood shot, tired eyes on his. The energy surrounding us became palpable. I took a deep breath and said, “I don’t know what I’m capable of. I don’t think I would ever hurt myself but I’m NOT myself right now. I’m just….broken. Can you either hide the guns or the ammunition immediately, please?” He didn’t question me, he just did as I requested.
I scheduled an appointment with my midwife and found a counselor that morning. My midwife started me on an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant. The counselor saw me that week.
I’m a good mix of believing in Eastern and Western medicine. I believe they both have their places in my life. What I was doing with Eastern medicine wasn’t helping so I immediately sought out Western medicine. I also believe that pills are just a band aide and that I have to address the problem, hence the trained counselor. I previously wrote a blog called “Crazy” that spoke of how powerful the mind was and how it can control your body. My physical anxiety symptoms proved that, yet again, to me.
The medication and counseling have had a vastly positive effect on me. I feel “normal” again, like the old chemically balanced me. All thoughts of not wanting to be here have vanished. Everything isn’t oppressive and I’ve even caught myself genuinely belly laughing. The first time that happened I thought, “What was THAT?! How long has it been since I’ve laughed this way?”
Like a broken record, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Not only did I recognize something had changed in my brain, but I asked for and received help. Have you?