Sunday, November 16, 2014

Investigating Anxiety, Depression, And A Whole Back Story

After many months...many more than I initially counted in my head...I have (finally) gone to the doctor to talk about all things "mind", y'all.

Ok, so it wasn't really my choice.  It was the result of an intervention of sorts.  When your friend says to you, as you are explaining (complete with jazz hands) how your mind just won't let you rest, "We have had this conversation 7 times. (just 7?  Nah.  Way more than 7.)  You are going to the doctor.  I will go with you.  I will even take you.  But you are going.", then proceeds to sit there, know you better pick your phone up and make the appointment.

So I did.

Mind you, I cannot think of a time in my life - going as far back as early childhood - in which I was not anxious.  When I was little, I used to worry about everything.  I mean everything.  I spent my elementary years thinking that no one loved me and had recurring nightmares of my mother driving away from me as I ran after her car.  I would wake up in the middle of the night, tiptoe across the hallway, and quickly look in to see that my peacefully sleeping mom was right there.  Her presence gave me comfort.  Enough to sleep maybe another hour without another nightmare.

Teen years weren't much different on the anxiety scale.  They just came with bigger worries and insecurities.  And people would always say, "These are the best years of your life!" and I would be thinking, "Seriously?  All this drama?  All this pressure?  I'm supposed to know exactly what I want to do with my entire life so I can choose the right college and the right major and I have things going on that no one even knows about?  THIS?  Is as good as it gets?"  But at least I had sports to drown the emotions in.  The fact that my "fight/flight" mechanism was broken and stuck on "fight" for all those years gave me the aggression and tenacity that athletes thrive in.  I played every sport available to me.  However, every waking moment couldn't be spent playing a sport.  Those were the times in which the struggle, as they say, was very real.  I had become physically ill.  Food was definitely an enemy, which helped bring that about.  Because my dr couldn't find anything medically wrong at that time, she recommended I see a therapist.  I didn't embrace the help, because I was of the mindset back then that seeking help was a sign of weakness.  How misguided this child-of-the-70's, where you don't talk about it and it isn't so, was.

Late teen/early 20's - rinse and repeat on that anxiety.  I remember being sent to the campus counselor in my freshman year of college, because I had a major panic attack during an exam.  You guys will like this story.  See, I had pulled an all-nighter and knew every fact for my psych (of all things) test.  Professor walked around the room with blue books, placing them on each desk.  I had not seen a blue book prior to that moment and thought it was an interesting way to deliver a multiple choice test.  Prof went to the front of the room and said, "Please open your books and write everything you know about..." as I was already opening to find it completely blank inside, realizing that my mind had gone completely blank, and I could barely remember my name much less anything I had studied.  Boom.  That's all I remember, aside from the room spinning and going dark.  Again, I didn't embrace the help.  I know.  Ugh, right?  Instead, I battled my mind in secrecy.  I couldn't always deal with getting from my dorm room to the classroom, so I frequently skipped.  I isolated and got by on my ability to self-teach.  I often showed up just for exams.  I dealt with intense drama and pressure...all by myself and in not good ways.  I played sports there, both on a varsity team and recreationally, but again...that couldn't be every moment.  My most vivid memory of my 4yrs of college was when my mother came to take me to a diner outside of town for lunch.  I was lower than low in that moment.  Having her sitting across from me was my saving grace.  I was not strong enough to tell her what was happening, but her simple presence was what I needed in that horribly dark time.  No, I was not the person who found college to be the most wonderful time of her life.  I didn't do the grad ceremony.  My degree came via mail.  I really can't tell you how I ended up with a nice GPA.  Really can't.

There's some history.  So let's get to the present - the over 40yrs.

I'd gotten help years ago, (finally, right?) which has given me the tools to fight back against the anxiety.  I have a strong faith in the Lord.  I have, by all intents and purposes, an amazingly blessed life.  All things that help me to know that the latest, lengthy wave I've tried to white knuckle my way through is something I need to get real with.  The commotion in my mind...the vibrations in my chest, as if your foot is resting on the gas pedal of your car, idling at 2000rpm...the broken "fight" setting that persists...the unexplained weight loss...all can be helped.  I just have to come face to face with it.  And I'm totally inspired to do it.

My friend did accompany me to the appointment and yes, I allowed her in the room.  She was there to make sure I didn't try to minimize how I was feeling.  I'm really good at that whole "I'm fine, seriously!"...vibrant smile...I have my stuff together and I don't want you to know how I'm really doing...presentation.  This friend knows that about me.  But I was too emotionally exhausted to pull that smoke screen game off this time.  I began to speak and didn't get very far until the tears began.  I was raised not to cry, so when it happens, and especially if I can't get that stuff under immediate control, it's beyond heartfelt.  Like beyond.

Tomorrow, I should have the results of the various labs that my dr ordered and we'll go from there.  Who knows, maybe MS is to blame for this resurgence.  I was treated for depression early in the course of the disease and we all know MS likes to ebb and flow.  Maybe there's some sort of hormonal cause.  Maybe it's something else...or none of those.  The bottom line is, I'm not alone.  I have a God who loves me more than I can imagine.  I have a beautiful family and compassionate friends who love and support me.  And I know that I'm not supposed to try to carry this by myself.  The strongest thing to do is what I've done in facing it head on.  Sure, I may have used a couple of the doctor's tissues, but there was a ton of strength in those tears 'cause they were real...and she had the nice kind of tissues ;)

If anyone out there in blogworld can be comforted by knowing that I have struggled with these things, and that I find myself there again...but I continue to be brought through them by the grace of God and the beautiful people He has placed in my life, then I gladly share with humility.

Just please excuse any thoughts that didn't come together or overly lengthy paragraphs.  I'm under caffeinated and the 200mph neurological commotion is kinda pointing and laughing.  I'll have the last laugh...

Be well, friends!