Showing posts with label anxiety medication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anxiety medication. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wrapping Up The Anxiety Topic

I'm sorry for the delay in posting this final segment.  I appreciate how many of you have reached out to me while reading the first two parts.  I wish I had spoken out two and a half years ago!  Little did I know that so many people were out there, willing to share and sympathize.  

If only I knew then what I knew now.   How many times do we all find ourselves saying that?

So, I left off wondering how I was going to find help.  Clearly there wasn't any organization or doctor that was going to say, "Ah, yes!  This is very common.  We see it all of the time!  Read this book, take this medication, talk to this therapist and you will be back to normal in no time.  We have all of the answers!"  

Nope.  Nuttin.

One of my saving graces was a strange communication chain I had.  I had a relative that suffered with postpartum issues as well and from what I could tell, I was following the exact path she was on.  

We will call her in My(a) Relative. Corny I know, but I over-thought finding a witty name for her and it's the best I could come up with.  Suddenly I think I'm someone's Italian grandmother.  

Unfortunately  I hadn't spoken to Maya  in years, so I didn't feel like I could just call.  I mean, what do you say?  "Well, hi there!!  Remember me from six years ago?!   I hear through the grapevine that  you're out of your mind and thinking freaky crap too.  What are the chances, huh?  So, what kind of scary, weird shit do you worry about?  What are YOU doing about it?"  If I was her I would think that my family is talking about what a nut job I am behind my back, amongst themselves and whoever else might listen.  

The truth is that the only people who knew were my mom and one of our mutual relatives.  We will call that person Aunt Herah.  As in Her (ah) Relative.  Yes, the Italian grandmother naming cycle continues.

My mom mentioned my situation to Aunt Herah, who said, "Guess what....Maya went thru that too!"  Suddenly, I felt like there was someone out there.  Life on another "planet"!  I literally felt like I found the only other person in the world who spoke my language.

This was my ONLY personal connection to information and help.  The chain gets a little confusing here, but here is how every question that I had was answered: I would ask my mom, who would call Aunt Herah, who would ask Maya, who would report back to Aunt Herah, who would call my mom, who would call me.  

Whew. It was like playing that game Telephone that we all played as kids.  The difference was that I was desperate so the information was received exactly as it was given.

I'd listen to the information Maya shared, review it with my mom, analyze the shit out of it, hang up and cry.  I was either relieved that I wasn't the only one thinking this craziness, or I had gained insight and now knew how I could proceed.  Regardless of what it was, I was not alone and that in itself was huge.

The only thing missing was the feeling of hopefulness.  I needed a sign.

One afternoon when Allie was about 2 months old, we were standing in my front yard enjoying the sun.  I was feeling really anxious and couldn't seem to "get good air".  Anyone who suffers from anxiety or panic attacks will tell you that sometimes they feel like they can't get a good, deep breath of air no matter how hard they try.   I call that not being able to "get good air".   Those big deep breaths that you take when people tell you to calm down don't exist.  It's as if you're laying down with a brick on your chest.

Anyway, my neighbor, who I've always respected and admired, drove by.  She stopped and rolled her window down.  She had been the first friend to visit me when Allie was born so she had seen the happy, elated person I had been during that first week.   I guess I didn't look the same.

"Hey, neighbor!  How are ya doing?" she called out.

"Okay!"  I tried to fake it with a smile and a bouncy nod.

"You know, it's gonna get better!  Somewhere like around eight or twelve weeks, you'll feel more normal.  Trust me."

I remember thinking, 'Where did that come from?'  It was as if God knew I needed something, so in the immortal words of Bill Engvall, He said

Somehow she had picked up right away that I wasn't really okay.  She kind of knew what I was going through.  I can still see her smiling at me from behind the wheel.   I can hear her yelling over that I was going to be fine.   She had two kids and she was doing great, so she had to know!  That was my first glimmer of hope.

Sign, check!

I started seeing a doctor who put me back on medication and I have a trusty, ole therapist who was trying to help me control my wacky thoughts in the process.  To this day its still difficult to stop my mind from going off on a horrible tangent, but at least now I can stop it early instead of waiting until I'm a total mess.  

There is no perfect,  Hollywood movie ending to this little story.  That's part of the reason why it has taken me so long to finish this.  I've been searching for something that will leave you saying, "Well, that was a feel-good, happy story!"  Here's the best I can offer:

It's two and a half years later and I feel like I'm 80% back to being me, which is a lot better than it sounds.  I'm less claustrophobic and can hold my husband's hand without feeling weirdly restrained.  I don't have to keep Allie in arms reach at night while we sleep.  No more hysterical screaming in my car.  And I don't look like Janet Leigh in Psycho while I'm showering anymore.

I no longer let my mind torture me about my daughter.  That dark and evil thing is almost gone.  On rare occasions, I'll hear that he's at my brain's door.  When I look thru that peep hole, I see him standing there holding a sign about something new for me to get totally freaked out about.  When it happens, it pisses me off.  So, I fight it.

My advice to anyone going through this, or something similar, is this:
  • Reach out to everyone and anyone.  If your family and friends can't help, look for strangers who might have even the tiniest of potential to help.  
  • Don't be afraid of what people will think of you because in the grand scheme of things, what people think isn't going to make you happy or unhappy in life.  What you DO will accomplish that.  
  • Be prepared to be surprised by how many other people are keeping something similar to themselves, only to reveal it to you when you open yourself to them.  
  • Call a doctor and tell them you need help.  They will try.
  • Don't call Tom Cruise.  He will tell you that you're crazy.  This coming from a man who jumps on couches because he's in love on national television.  Hello, Pot!  This is The Kettle.  You're black.
And if none of that helps, I'm right here.  I understand.  I can't fix you or save you, but maybe I can help you find a direction to go in.  That's all I was ever looking for.  The truth is that YOU will save you.  Sometimes you just need someone to say that you CAN and WILL do it.  

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

That Bigger Topic I Mentioned

When I was in the hospital, there were signs EVERYWHERE for Postpartum Depression.  One was on the wall across from my door.  I remember standing in the door, holding Allie, looking at the sign and thinking, 'Those poor people.  How could someone be depressed during such a happy time?'

I don't know about you, but when I thought of those postpartum problems I thought of three things; Brooke Shields, Tom Cruise saying she was weak, and new mothers being a threat to their babies lives.  The Andrea Yates story made it all very taboo.  If you had postpartum issues, you had the potential to be a murderer.  That was the most that I knew.   And I had only heard of Postpartum Depression.  I didn't know that there was other Postpartum crap that could happen to you.

Justin had installed a TV in Allie's room so I could watch TV when I fed her.  Our first week home was the week that the CBS TV show The Doctors decided to run an entire series on drug addicted babies.  I never saw one single episode, but the commercials completely slayed me.  I would lunge for the remote to turn the channel within a second of the commercial starting.

(NOTE:  I provided a link to the show above, however, I suggest that you prepare yourself before starting the video when you get there if you click.  It's can be very disturbing.  However, the show will help you see the topic in a clear light.)

I'm not saying that those commercials caused my problem, but they definitely lit a spark.  From that moment on, if I was alone in my head, I was bugging out. I could be holding Allie but if she was sleeping, I considered myself alone.

Here's the catch.  I wasn't my head.  I remember sitting at my Mom's kitchen table, crying, desperate, and terrified.  I was holding her hand, wishing that what was going on inside me could be explained to her by just holding onto her.  "I don't know where this is coming from.  It's like someone is in my head telling me horrible stories.  When I'm alone in the shower or driving my car, it just starts.  And it's awful.  It's so DARK.  It's like.....evil.  Just so dark."

I didn't understand what was causing these thoughts that were obsessively running through my brain.  To be honest, I was a little worried that maybe I was becoming schizophrenic.  These thoughts were not ME.  They were not who I am.  They represented someone who was a bad person.

No, I did not once think about hurting my daughter or killing her or plotting her demise.  I'm so grateful for that.   I feel that I was really lucky in that respect.

I had these ideas pop up in my head:  "Someone is going to climb up and kidnap her while you sleep." "Someone is going to break in, kill everyone but the baby and then steal her."  "Someone is going to kill her in a gruesome way and you wont be able to help her."  "You're a klutz and you will drop her or fall down and hurt her permanently." "If you get out of the car you better take her with you, even if you are pumping gas because someone will slam the door and she'll be trapped." "You will never see her ever again and always wonder where she is."

Those are just the thoughts that occurred most frequently.  There were plenty of other horror stories.  And once the thought was dropped in my brain, the situation started playing out.  I would imagine how it was going to happen and I couldn't stop it.  It was like someone turned on a horror movie and forced me to watch it no matter how hard I tried to close my eyes or think of something else.

I get choked up just thinking about it.  The emotional pain was horrible.  I would be in the shower in hysterics, or in my car, screaming with the radio turned up and banging on the steering wheel.  Make it stop, was my mantra.

I didn't want to be left alone at all.  If I could interact with Justin, Allie or my mom, I would get a break from the chaos.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who loves to fix things.  Cars, ice makers, toilets, people, the list goes on.  He's also sensitive and blessedly adoring.  I knew he would help me through it.  After talking to my mom, and then getting some advice from his mom (who is a therapist), he called my doctor and got me on the path to getting better.

I was suffering from Postpartum Anxiety.

He took me to therapy and waited patiently until I agreed to stop trying to breastfeed and go back on medication.  In the meantime, I searched for other people who were going through this.  Sisters in this disorder.

Where were those people who were on the signs on the wall?  The major postpartum organizations did nothing to connect me with someone nearby.  I begged for responses to email and got nothing.  There were no therapists who specialized in postpartum disorders according to my fancy healthcare company. There were no groups nearby.  Nothing.

I was desperate for someone to talk to.  Even if they didn't have an answer, I knew I could find some sort of peace talking with someone who understood what I was going through.  My friends and family would look at me sympathetically and offer support, but everyone was clueless as to what to do.  If I desperately couldn't find answers, I couldn't expect them to find them either.

And I was embarrassed.  Happy, cheerful Vicki suffering from stupid postpartum crap?  I was faking normalcy with almost everyone.

I have this awesome friend who I meet with for coffee or lunch as often as we can coordinate it.  She's fun, hilarious and smart and I always enjoy spending time with her.  I also  looked forward to getting together with her because she didn't have kids and if we didn't get into "baby talk" then she was able to keep me distracted from my misery.  When we would say goodbye, I would hug her so hard because I was so grateful for the hour or so of relief from my brain.

There were two questions that taunted me for the remainder of the time:  Was this going to stop and where in the hell was HELP?

(continued in next post )

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