Anxiety

Birthday pity party

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Tomorrow I turn 35, and I just don’t want to deal with it.  I usually like my birthdays, but I am greeting this one without a lot of enthusiasm and quite a lot of dread.  I don’t know how growing older doesn’t bother so many people.  It bothers me.  I can’t embrace aging.  I’m not happy about it.

I don’t like feeling that my best years are behind me, and there’s nothing to look forward to.  I have been through so much in the past year, and I hate thinking that might be all there is.  I hate thinking that I won’t look as good, and that my body will start to hurt in all sorts of ways I haven’t imagined.

It makes me angry that I have swallowed this whole “women aren’t valuable after 35.”  That I’ve internalized it to such a degree that I have been depressed about it for the last few days.  It infuriates me that men are just considered to be reaching their prime at this age while women are seemingly thrown out with the trash.

It’s maddening, in so many ways, that it should be this way.  Because I really have come so far, and accomplished and learned so much.  I should be celebrating.  I should be happy.  I should be saying, “fuck it, I don’t even care any more.  I’m the best!”  But all I can do is look back on my twenties with jealous envy.

I don’t even know what 35 is supposed to be like anymore.  Half the people I know have families and kids, the other half live alone in an apartment.  Some people are world leaders, some of them just play video games all day.  Everyone older than me can’t be bothered with technology and everyone younger can’t live without it.  This is 2017 and the world is super confusing.  I don’t even know what’s supposed to be what.  All the old rules are gone.

I’ve never been happy about growing older.  Ever.  The night before I turned 10 years old, I went into the bathroom and cried all evening.  When I was 16, I used to complain to everyone about how old I felt.  On my 21st birthday, I started having panic attacks and had to spend the day in bed.

I’ll probably be fine tomorrow.  I’ll have a good time.  But tonight I just want to curl up and feel sorry for myself.

Anxiety · Depression

Back on the meds

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Daisies, June 2017

Just a short update today.  I finally got in to see a doctor last week.  He said that given my family history and the fact that my mood has been so up and down, I should stay on the escitalopram indefinitely.

I am both relieved and devastated at the same time.  Who knew it was possible to feel both?

Anxiety · Healing

Journey off medication

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I have been trying to write for ages but I can never seem to steal the time.  Between my new job and house-hunting, I’m exhausted at the end of the day.

I have been trying to go off my anti-anxiety medication for good now.  Partly because my worries have subsided somewhat since I moved, partly because I’m on a waiting list to get a new doctor so I have no idea how long it will take to get a refill.

The process has been really frustrating because there is just so little information on what to expect going off the medication.  I went to a half dose for awhile and then a half-dose every other day, then (mostly) cold turkey the last week or so.  Some of the side effects are annoying but expected, like brain fog, irritation, dizziness, some anxiety, etc.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is a huge weight gain.  This is what makes it so frustrating, because I can’t find anything online about if this is a side effect of going off medication.  I just know I’ve had a huge appetite the last month or so, like nothing I eat is satisfying me.  I’m trying to get more nutritious food and I’m actually exercising more than ever, but I can’t seem to curb my appetite.  I am trying not to cry every time I can’t fit into clothes I’ve worn for years or see the extra layers of fat in the mirror.  But I’m a small person and every extra bit of weight shows on me.

As a perfectionist this is so hard on me.  I’ve been doing so well fighting my negative thoughts and adjusting to my huge cross-country move and my new job.  But if one thing is off, like my weight, I obsess about it and feel like a failure.  I usually start the day with good intentions, but after a long day of work I inevitably crash and just want to gorge.  I’m not in my own house so I don’t feel like I have any control over the kitchen.  I am still settling into a whole new daily routine so it does through one’s food habits off, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  Still, it’s one more thing to deal with emotionally that I wish I didn’t have to.

Anxiety · Depression

A new place

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It has been a very long few weeks, but we have moved.  My mind and body are still in shock.  Having a mental illness adds another dimension to the confusion and chaos.  There are times when I really struggle to remember just why we did it.  It was in part due to my mental breakdown.  We wanted a slower pace of life, and we knew we’d find it in our old hometown on the other side of the country.  But ooh boy, has it been rocky.

Moving out of the place I lived in for the past ten years has felt gut-wrenching.  All the people, routines, places, and a million different memories, have suddenly vanished.  I feel like an exile on a distant shore.  The place I am now is both physically and culturally very distant.

We are staying at my mom’s house until we find a place of our own.  Being back in the town where I grew up feels freaky.  Everything is familiar, yet different.  I am trying hard to reconcile the place I remember with the place I see before me.  There are so many things I recognize, and yet I marvel at the things I never noticed when I was younger.

It is stunningly beautiful here.  Like, knock-you-over, jaw-dropping beauty.  Just across the street from my mom’s house is a gorgeous lake set against a backdrop of evergreens.  In Ontario, this place would be overrun by screaming kids and parents carting gigantic strollers, Tim Horton’s cups, and dogs.  But here our only company is the ducks.

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Our bedroom overlooks a forested ravine where trains regularly run by, so close you can almost touch them. The deer are abundant too.  They wander almost up to the house.

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The pace of life feels much slower.  There is almost no traffic, and people will stop for you when you try to cross the street.  We are just a short drive from the ocean, which I have always found peaceful and restful.  When the stress of moving is too much and I start to feel derealization, this setting helps combat that.

Fundy Trail

Work is my biggest worry right now.  I have no idea how I am going to feel moving from an incredibly busy, hectic, fast-paced environment to a much more sedate one.  I have another week before I start work.

I am trying hard to combat feeling like a failure, that I somehow couldn’t take “real” life in the busy world.  Any move is a trade-off, and what I lose in amenities and access to things I make up for in nature.

Time will tell how things go…

Anxiety · Depression

Not What She Seems

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This week has been terrible.  Last week was good, this one is awful.  It is my last week of work before I fall into the abyss of not working, and I am a nervous wreck about it.  My good-bye party was held on Tuesday and I left it in tears.  My mind keeps spinning around and around, racing with all sorts of terrible thoughts about the immediate and distant future.  Even though I am moving back to my old hometown, even though I have another job lined up, I can only think awful things.

I would be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking about suicide a lot lately.

Nobody would ever, ever, ever suspect that I think these things.  Everyone keeps saying how nice I am, how happy I look all the time at work, how wonderful that everything is working out for me and how excited I must be to move back home after ten years.  How fortunate, they say, for my new workplace, to have someone like me, who loves their job so much and never misses a day of work.  How lucky that I have a husband who adores me and takes care of me, and friends and family who love and support me.

They don’t know that in the cracks between my day, the moments when I’m not doing anything or just driving or on the treadmill at the gym, all I can think of is, maybe I should just cut my wrists and be done with it all.

And honestly, after nine months of this shit, of looking forward every day to crawling into bed at night for the sweetness of oblivion, it is goddamn tempting.

That’s me.  The luckiest woman in the world.  The happiest woman.  The one you work with, your best friend, the one who seems to have her life completely together.  This is what she thinks.  This is how she lives her life inside, every minute of every day.

 

Anxiety · Depression · Sensitivity

A (negative) HSP week

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Source: Introvert Doodles

I really needed this comic this week.  It has been a bad few days, where nothing seemed to go right.  It rained all week, everyone called in sick to work, library patrons were extremely demanding and I felt miserable and full of PMS.  I am back to having an upset stomach and tight chest at the end of the day now.  I found the noise from people just unbearable: the screaming, whiny kids, the obnoxious teenagers, the loud cell phone talkers, the constant allergy sneezes.  I just wanted to stuff cotton in my ears and retreat to a private, quiet space.

I am really looking forward to leaving this all behind.

Anxiety · Depression · Healing

The slowly changing seasons

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Artwork by my mom

As this is the second time in my life I’ve been seriously affected by anxiety, I have noticed a pattern in the progression.  I am attempting to chronicle it here, not just for my own future reference, but in the hopes that it might help someone else too.

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It approaches in stealth mode.  I don’t feel it coming.  Once in a while I’ll feel a tightness in my chest, or feel down for no reason.  It builds in a way that I don’t really notice, slowly over weeks and months.  As time goes by, I feel more and more a shortness of breath and a growing sense of unreality.  My normal mode starts to become angry and helpless.  My body becomes affected with everything from nausea to uncontrollable twitching.  However, in this stage I am still able to enjoy things when I am relaxed.  Up until the tipping point.

Once the tipping point is reached, the dark thoughts begin to enter my head.  I lose all sense of reality.  My body is completely possessed, with panic attacks, racing heart and nightmares all the time.  I cling desperately to everything that is familiar, unable to leave my narrow comfort zone.  The thought of getting better again feels impossible.

In this dark place, there is no pleasure, there is only survival.  There are days when it feels easier to end it all rather than continue in this hideous state.  Somehow, though, I manage to hang on by my fingernails, dangling over the edge of the cliff.  This is the absolute bottom, when all I can do is cry for help.  I take medication, I go to therapy, I reach out to everyone I know and trust to help me through.

Then, slowly, a change begins to happen.  From somewhere deep inside a crack of hope begins to appear.  Just a single crack, one day.  Maybe the next day it’s gone.  Maybe it’s even gone for a week.  Then later on, it appears again, perhaps for an hour.  Then a few days later, for half a day.  A few months pass, and you have one amazing day where everything works out right and the hope is blooming.

After that you have more bad days.  Then another good one.  Then a bad week, and two good days.  You’re whipping back and forth between hope and despair.  But the hope is winning out.  It starts bleeding into the bad days.

Months have gone by.  The crack is now a wide opening of sun.  Most days are good now, but during some you walk in the shadow.  The shadows are growing smaller, though, and it’s easier to see the sun beyond them.  They are like snow melting in the spring.  You nervously walk around them.  Sometimes you have to go through them.  It sucks but it’s getting easier.

Eventually, you notice the season has changed completely.  You no longer tremble in fear of the shadow.  This is the point where you say, Life is Good.   Every so often you encounter the shadows again.  There are always clouds moving across your sky, even on the best days.  But now you know what they are.  You look at them and say, bring it on, shadow.  I survived worse.