In a previous blog I confessed to having an anxiety disorder and the steps I’m taking to work on that: meds and therapy.
I am not embarrassed at all about my issues but maybe I should be. I just really believe none of us are that different. Plus, I have seen depression and anxiety in others and thought how that would never be me. Either you are going through what I am, know someone who is or you will be going through it one day yourself, so why not be honest about it.
Here is what I am experiencing:
- Nausea when I eat meat. Sometimes even the sight of it will set me off gagging. There are also times where it doesn’t bother me at all.
- Poor memory.
- Chest pains and heart burn.
- Emotional duress
- Hot flashes
- Headaches due to teeth clenching
- Sad and heavy heart and a pit in my stomach
It’s not typically all at the same time but sometimes it is. Sometimes I just wake up this way. The other night I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with chest pains. I laid there wondering why in the world…! It’s not like I had a nightmare. I was fine when I went to bed, so where is this anxiety symptom coming from? (That chest pain lasted through the night and the whole of the next day.)
There are times where walking through the house sets me into utter turmoil. The laundry needs to be done, the basement is littered with toys, there are dishes in the sink, the island is a catch-all for mail, books, toys and dirty dishes, the kitchen table is the same, my bed is not made, I can’t see the floor in the boys’ room due to all of the Legos and I have no idea where to even start!
I try to start in the kitchen, the core of my home, but I get side tracked and start making a grocery list or take a dirty towel down to the laundry room and start doing laundry. I start to feel so overwhelmed and then my son walks in and just says “hi” while he gets himself something to drink and I blow up at him because the extra body, the extra activity has set me into a tail spin. All the while this is happening and I am over reacting to…life…I know this. I am aware of the fact that my responses are inappropriate. This makes me more upset because I just need to control this…THING!
But I can’t.
So the doctor prescribes Zoloft and a therapist. My Man is not too thrilled.
“Meds just treat symptoms. It’s not fixing the problem,” he complained
“That’s what therapy is for. The meds are going to help me to cope while I work through the bigger problems in therapy. That’s the idea anyway.”
I feel like a crazy person but people with depression or anxiety are not crazy. My doctor told me I was not neurotic.
“You don’t have neurosis,” he said.
“Really? Because I totally feel like I do. I’m pretty sure that I’m a 100% bona-fide nutter.”
“See, you’re doing better already! Making jokes and stuff.”
“Um…I’m not joking, Doc. If I’m crazy you can tell me. I’ll believe you.”
“You. Are. Not. Crazy. You’ve just been ‘too strong for too long.'”
Ugh! I hate crap like that! Don’t feed me lines from a bumper sticker. I don’t feel strong at all. I feel fragile and weak which I HATE! I can’t stand people like that. Buck up and get a back bone. Too Strong For Too Long. Too strong for what?
I lead a pretty coosh life and always have really. My parents are divorced. Wah. Really? Whose isn’t? Not to belittle the pain of that experience (permanent pain) but it’s not like I’ve had to endure abuse or am under fire in Iraq or that my spouse has decided he doesn’t love me anymore. My parents divorced. And like 20 years ago. There are other family issues that I have been touched negatively by but mostly the people who were struggling were simply enduring the consequences of their choices. I hurt because they hurt but my life carried on with my happy marriage and my happy kids in our happy house on the happy mountain. I don’t feel like I’ve ever really been put through the test. Not the big league ones that life can hand you. Just….normal life.
The first day I took the Zoloft I had errands to run and a house to clean. Par for the course. Caren and Kathy wanted to meet for lunch. I honestly did not want to go. I was so heavy-hearted that day but it had been months since I’d seen Kathy and I wanted to catch up. I ran my errands in a numb sort of haze. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t give a flip about anything.
I had been noticing friends and family talking to me differently. Like I was a special case. Like I was fragile. Or maybe more like I was volatile and they weren’t sure what would cause the bomb to burst into tears or rage. There are lots of:
“How do you feel?”
“Is my good attitude helping you to have a good day Mommy?”
And they say it tentatively, slowly so the simple questions can ease into the whirl wind of angst in my head, be properly processed, and hopefully elicit a proper response.
I didn’t want my anxiety to be the topic of lunch and I didn’t want the sideways glances, questioning eyes and the creepy slow questions, so I decided to appear happy.
Smile. I kept telling myself.
Half way through lunch Caren said, “OK. What is this?”
“What is what?” I asked.
“THIS?” she said waving her hand up and down me like she was trying to wipe away a funky film.
“I don’t know what you mean. I’m fine,” I said.
“Well, normally I can look at you and know exactly what you are thinking and feeling but…THIS,” she gestured again, “I don’t know what’s going on there.”
“Yeah. You seem weird today,” Kathy added.
“You just have this dopey smile on your face. It’s creepy. You look like a Stepford Wife or something,” Caren said.
“I do? I kept telling myself to smile but I had no idea that I was!”
“What’s going on?”
So, I told her everything and how I started taking the Zoloft. Maybe it was the medicine.
“It takes 4-6 weeks for that to take effect,” Kathy said. (She’s a nurse and a fount of medical knowledge.) “Your body chemistry has to balance out first.”
“Well, if this is how the drug is going to make you, we will not be taking it!” Caren declared.
The next day I took it and I felt all buzzy. My hands and lips felt numb and tingly like I’d had too much wine. The numbed emotions or Stepford Wife State would last for about 4 hours. After a few days I noticed that I was waking up happy.
“I feel really great today!” I gushed to Man as I did a Nestea plunge onto the bed. “I feel happy and rested. I feel….thankful and blessed!”
“Yeah but…that must mean the medicine is working and that means I need to keep taking it. Now I’m going to be all ‘blah’ again.” I reluctantly took the Zoloft.
Last week I saw the therapist for the second time. Right now I am just giving her The Lay of The Land. She is just getting to know me and how I became me. I was pretty anxious while we talked.
“Why are you upset?” she asked.
“Because I wish you already knew all of this stuff already. That way we could get started on the work. I want to get busy and fix this mess.”
“Let’s try something. Can we?”
She dimmed the lights in the office and asked me to close my eyes.
“As a singer you already know how to breathe so just take some deep quiet breaths.”
“Good…now I want you to think of a Happy Place…”
I KID YOU NOT! I thought I was going to bust up laughing! Was she SERIOUS? My “Happy Place?!”
This is so cliché! Oh my lands! I am a bored, sad house wife who is sitting in a therapists office and trying to go to my Happy Place! I’m a cliché!
“Keep taking deep breaths. Have you found your Happy Place? It can be real or imaginary. What colors do you see? What’s the temperature like?”
Alright. I’ll play along. Maybe this really does work. So lets see….my Happy Place… Bed. I can sleep and escape from the real world. My favorite part of the day is bedtime! I get in my comfy bed and Man holds me in his arms in our twisted up version of the spoon. The colors are browns like my beds comforter. I’m warm under the blankets and in Man’s arms.
“How do you feel when you are in your Happy Place?”
In reality? Safe, loved, cherished. Right now, in my pretend Happy Place? Stupid. And I’m still anxious because it’s not working!
After our time was up, she turned the lights back on and said, “I can see that you have a lot of hurts and there are things for us to work on but I have to say, you just light up the whole room!”
I do?! Thank God!
I was so releaved! I thought my spark was gone!
After the appointment I had blood drawn to test my hormone levels and my theory that this whole thing is menopause.
“We’ll test it but I’m betting the results all come back fine,” my doctor said. “The symptoms you are describing…they are all anxiety symptoms. Even the ones that you think are due to the Zoloft. Numbness and tingling, hot flashes, this emotional lethargy. I think that you are noticing them because you are taking something and are looking for its effects. There’s no way it’s doing anything yet. You’ve only taken it for two weeks. Come see me again in 4 weeks. I think you are going to be feeling much better by then.”
I called Shalah to tell her about my Happy Place.
“Oh my gosh! You’ve got to be kidding!” she laughed. “The good thing though, Lola, is that you discovered that Man is your Happy Place. That’s a really good thing. You need to tell him that.”
“Yeah. I do like that.”
“Also, this ‘light up the room thing.’ I noticed when I was there that you have lost your spark. I told My Man and he said, ‘yeah, but that’s not all you love about Lola.’ I’m glad you can still light up a room but you need to know that we love you whether you are ‘on’ or not. The people who really know you, know that you are multi dimensional and have many, many levels. You don’t have to be everyone else’s Happy Place.”
Blood results are back in. All is normal. It’s not menopause.
Told you. 100% bona-fide nutter.