When I made the choice to go on medicine to manage my anxiety, I and (surprisingly) my doctor were hesitant. He told me it'd be best to try therapy first, but after telling him I had been to therapy three times before, that my mind was beginning to outrace me, and I had had 3 panic attacks in two days, we both came to the conclusion that a medicine was needed.
I was scared to get on an anti-depressant. I didn't want to grow dependent on the drug, I was aware of the side effects, I was aware getting off them can be a battle. I know taking antidepressants while pregnant is not recommended (a whole other post to come). But on that day in July when I popped my first pill, I was filled with more hope than fear, because I was convinced I rather endure anything than what I had been in previous months.
Whatever it was, it wasn't life.
When my doctor gave me my prescription, knowing I'd be moving back East soon, he made sure to tell me, find a therapist when you get out there, okay? It's been proven the best way to overcome anxiety is a treatment plan of therapy and medicine.
Got it, I told him.
We moved back East and, just as fast as our moving pieces fell into place, our lives took a total 180. I had barely ever left our townhome in Washington or the couple apartment we lived in in California, and now I was working full-time, grocery shopping, taking the kids out when Tim was out of town 3,000 miles West.
We went from 0-100 in 3 weeks.
Since my medicine had taken its full effect by the time we moved to Detroit, I was capable of accommodating to our new lifestyle. Little sleep, long to-do lists, basement-living with kids, was tiring but not panic-inducing, so I did't think about my anxiety treatment plan beyond my daily 50mg dose.
But if you've dealt with any sort of level of severe anxiety and/or depression, you know you can only keep up this pace for so long before your body catches up to you and says hold the phone, sister.
Recently, I've been regressing, I guess you could say. Earlier this week, I almost turned around when I went out to pick up my lunch. I noticed that internal panic barometer rise from 0-60 in .3 seconds when the kids were crying. I've noticed my mind going a little faster and an overall sense of irritability and frustration. I've blurted out did we pay our insurance bill this month in the middle of a conversation with Tim. I've paid student loans in between flipping pancakes for my kids and drafting a work email. I am (only slightly) embarrassed to say, that in the past three days there have been 3 different times when I've looked down at my feet to double check that I grabbed matching boots. I wish I were kidding.
I didn't ever find a therapist when I moved out here, solely due to financial reasons. The most helpful therapy I had, I paid over $300 a session for (with a delayed and minimal reimbursement from insurance). And with moving and getting newly accommodated in our temporary living situation, therapy just didn't have room in the budget. It didn't help that I had gotten carried away in thinking I feel fine since on the medicine. And when I started to feel overwhelmed by fatigue, I thought having 3 cups of coffee a day and getting as much done as I could in between work, laundry, and buying diapers was the answer to getting by.
I have to make a slight detour before continuing. The more I learn to manage anxiety, the more I grow to dislike talking about anxiety as a blanket issue. It's so relative, so specific and unique to each person who is struggling, that my treatment might not be needed or work for you or yours for me. Your anxiety might have been brought on by a traumatic life event, you might just be overworked right now, it might go away, it might not, etc.,etc., etc. To give some context to my own story so my long-lived battle with anxiety and various forms of treatment makes more sense, I thought I'd give a bit of backstory. My anxiety (and depression) climaxed after I had my first child, but neither were a result of pregnancy. Pregnancy was just the straw that broke my hormones' backs. Between the ages of 6-17, I spent in the "flight-or-fight" state, for reasons I won't get into detail about, but I grew up having a survivalist's mindset, so my body was conditioned to be ... anxious, tense, stressed. For me, anxiety feels like a physical condition more than a mental one, because I've reached panic-attack status before my mind has registered any thought of feeling overwhelmed. When I'm stressed or have a lot going on or am I'm not doing a good job of finding balance, my body physically reacts and it does so quickly. It's something I need to constantly be aware of and work to manage.
I knew our move to Michigan wasn't going to be a cure-all for my anxiety. But I didn't expect it to creep up on and blind side me like it has before. So, I'm back in a place I've been to a few times now — looking for therapists, questioning the best course of action moving forward, thinking of the best activities that will bring peace and balance. I'm asking myself if it's best to keep a 8-5 work schedule while looking for a house with 2 kids and a working and traveling husband.
I sat in the living room a few nights ago and said to Tim something I've said many times before, I don't know what to do. Though when I say that, I know exactly what to do - reevaluate, go out of my way to relax and rest, look for better ways to balance, get to a therapist, and, most importantly cling to hope.
Let the journey begin once again.