Tag Archives: anxiety

“Pregnancy Scare”…but really just Scared

If you are having lots of anxiety with or around pregnancy or sex, check in with yourself to see if you’re having it anywhere else. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are at the root of pregnancy scares, especially if they’re happening a lot and even when there have not really or likely been risks.– Scarleteen, Pregnancy Scared?

I made it through a pregnancy scare in December. It was horrible.

When the scare began, I had just returned to my parents house in the States after a semester abroad in Budapest, Hungary. I had just left the place which I felt was my home, and with it, my (now-ex) boyfriend. Even after being back for three weeks, I still feel like I left half of my heart in that apartment in Hungary.

I had been having sex with my boyfriend in Budapest. Really safe and responsible sex. Of course, sex always comes with some level of pregnancy risk, but the risks we were taking were small. Logically I knew this, yet when I returned to the States, all of a sudden there was nothing that could ease my anxiety, my fear that I was growing a child inside of me.

I prayed to God over and over and over: Please, God, don’t let me be pregnant. And… if I am, can I miscarry? Kill it, God. Kill it, kill it, kill it. 

This “pregnancy” was eating away at me. Would I get an abortion? How would I tell my parents? What would my sister think?

I’ve heard that the power of thought is really effective at healing. That if your ankle is sprained, spending time every night imagining the ankle fibres meshing back together can actually speed up the healing process. I wondered if maybe this method worked for miscarriages, too. I spent every night hating myself: sending negative thoughts to my abdomen trying to kill off whatever bundle of cells I was convinced *must* be growing inside of me.

The rational part of my brain was constantly trying to quell the anxiety– The chances of you being pregnant are minuscule. You’re being ridiculous. And, at the least, chill out until you can get a pregnancy test. There’s literally nothing you can do at this point.

Yet I couldn’t ignore my missed period or my horribly painful breasts which has been that way for over two weeks.

As soon as I’d waited long enough for a home pregnancy test to have some measure of accuracy, I took one. Negative. Yay! The wave of relief only lasted a few days until I still hadn’t gotten my period. I convinced myself the result must have been faulty.

I felt so scared, so distressed, so alone. But… none of these feelings were actually about the pregnancy. I knew I wasn’t pregnant. And even if I was, so what? I’ve handled worse before.

I was scared, distressed, and alone, but… scared I wouldn’t be able to find another place which really felt like home, distressed over breaking up with someone I wanted to spend my life with, and alone alone because I’d just left a huge group of friends I’d travelled with, learned with, and grown up with– likely to never see again.

I honestly believe the fear of pregnancy was easier for my mind to wrap itself around when compared with the fear of my future. I was so happy last semester, and I worry I will never feel that kind of joy, love, and HOME ever again. That’s a lot.

I got my period. It was late, but it came. And why wouldn’t it have been late, after the stress of moving, international travel, final exams, and a breakup?

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Food Logs

I am doing a lot better. From the beginning of this semester, I met with our college nutritionist every week for about a month, then every other week, and have now “graduated” to once a month.

I have been keeping a food log this entire time, recording specifics of what I eat as well as my feelings and reactions to food. It makes nutrition appointments really easy– every meeting we start out by looking at my log. She can see what I consumed and how I felt about it in “real-time.” There’s no forgetting what happened since the last appointment, and no hiding certain meals/lack of meals.

My food log is helping me transition my obsession with food from an unhealthy restriction of what I will allow myself to put into my body towards a healthy awareness of what I am eating and why.

I have been using my food log as a crutch–but honestly I think that’s okay. In the beginning, I needed it. I needed my food log to give me something to obsess over as I tried to increase my food intake. Now I just like it. Sometimes I even forget to log, and that doesn’t bother me anymore. That’s one of the ways I know I’m doing better. But I like having someplace to reflect on food and notice how my emotions impact what I eat. My log is helping me to enjoy food again.

For anyone who has kept a food log: Were you forced to use it? Was it helpful? Do you continue to use it?

One of my recent food log reflections:
I have really not been concerned much with food, exercise, and weight recently. I feel happy and calm and comfortable with my body. I have accomplished one of my goals– to feel less anxiety surrounding food. It is still there sometimes, it still exists, but I feel that I now have enough knowledge about myself and healthy eating habits as well as tools to be okay. I fear that this might not be the case tomorrow or next week or in six months, but I can deal with that when it happens. My food choices and habits are definitely different now than ‘before,’ but I think that it okay. I think I am okay.

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My Food Log

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Self-Allowed Food Freedom

One of my food goals involves a “challenge meal” in which I basically allow myself to eat whatever I want, without planning it out in advance. This week, my challenge meal needed to involve pizza. At my last nutrition appointment, I spent a while telling a story about my friend eating pizza in the dining hall. I had wanted some so badly, but I couldn’t let myself have it. I hadn’t planned to eat pizza at that meal.

Even though I wanted it, I knew it wasn’t worth it. The sheer amount of anxiety caused by a single slice of pizza was going to ruin the entire rest of my night. It was better for me not to eat it.

Tonight was my challenge dinner. My dad was driving past my college on a business trip, and he stopped to eat with me. We went out to dinner, and I had pizza, frozen yogurt (chocolate!), and a chai tea latte. So many things that I love.

I have come out of the meal amazingly full. It is one of the first meals in way too long that I actually ate until I was completely full (and yet still not too full. Just normal.) and didn’t restrict anything about my meal.

On top of that, it was coupled with the love and support of someone who cares enough about me to stop by even for just an hour and a half. I think him being here was the reason I could do what I did without anxiety. I doubt he will ever understand how much this dinner meant to me.

I am back in my dorm now, finishing my chai tea. I am overly aware that as I finish my tea, my self-allowed food freedom is coming to an end. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. But, for now, I feel full and I feel happy and I will just let that soak in.Image

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Who is in control?

We take drugs in order to give us more control over our lives.

I think about this a lot, and wonder about it. It’s ironic, really.

My Lexapro changes who I am. It directly affects my personality and my emotions. It controls my feelings, and makes me feel stable. It takes away my suicidal feelings and my panic attacks. It allows me to live a life where I don’t spend hours crying in my room or in the middle of class for no apparent reason.

But, it also gives me more control over my own life. Since I don’t have panic attacks, suicidal attacks, random crying attacks (if you will let me call them all “attacks”–as that is how I perceive my mental illness. It is just that, an illness, and one that sneaks up from behind when you least expect it and in an instant changes how you are feeling and functioning), I can make choices about my own life. I can choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and I don’t need to spend as much time catering to the illness.

With my meds:

I can stay up later without having to worry that I will be depressed for the next week because of it.

I can make it through exams without crying from test anxiety.

I can listen to my friends and give advice without having to worry that it will trigger me.

I now have the emotional capacity to love, and live, and do what I want to do.

The very first thing I do every morning when I wake up is take my meds. Before I even put my feet on the floor, I take my meds. Any time I am going anywhere overnight, I have to pack my meds.

They control me, but at the same time give me my freedom back. It’s confusing.

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Hard to Swallow

I finally did it. I finally called the psychiatrist back and got my prescription filled. I’ve been on 5mg of Lexapro for four days now. It’s not going that great.

I knew starting medication was going to be difficult, but it’s much different when you’re in the middle of it than when you’re thinking about it before. You can’t really prepare yourself for it.

Now it’s 6:00 in the morning. I literally didn’t slept at all last night. I had been taking the Lexapro in the morning, but it was making me sleepy. I was so tired I would have to stop what I was doing and sit down to rest during the day. So, I tried taking it before bed. Big mistake. I’m so confused, though: is it possible that the medication would make me tired when taken in the morning, but still give me insomnia when taken at night?

I wish someone could give me all the answers, and tell me when I’ll feel better, if I’ll ever feel better, if this is the wrong drug for me, and what to do.

I think the thing that’s just so hard for me to really come to terms with, is the concept that we deliberately take these medications that make us sick, in hopes that they will ultimately make us feel better.

It’s counter-intuitive, and scary when you’re in it for the first time.

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Through the Looking Glass: An 8th Grader’s Perspective On Depression

6/14/08:

I always thought depression was simply an ADULT problem. That was who the depression medecine [sic] ADs on TV were for! Boy was I wrong. … 

Another thing, when I hear about someone who is going through it, I just want to go up to them and hug them and tell them that people DO care. Even if I can’t do that, which makes me sad.

I’ve been journaling since I was in elementary school. But the above snippet from my 8th grade diary is one of the first entries I have to look back at. I used to write, then when I would go back to read it months or years later and would rip up my old entries because I thought they were stupid and immature.

I wrote this one soon after I had recovered from my first major depressive episode. I was confused about what I’d been through, and terrified that the illness would come back. I had never felt such extreme pain and sadness before in my life, and suddenly had a huge empathy for others who were going through what I had gone through. I felt sad for them, and wanted to help them. To tell them that they weren’t alone.

And to warn the rest of the world, because no one had warned me.

At this time in my life, I was angry. I felt like my childhood had been stolen from me in one fell swoop. And in a way, it kind of was.

I have most of my journal entries from eighth grade on, and I think some of them are worth sharing. I remember that I used to be so frustrated that nobody would ask me what I thought of things. When you are growing up, you spend a lot of time thinking about your world and trying to make sense of it.

Kids should have a voice. Even if their ideas can’t be heard until five years later, by way of saved writings. A time capsule of sorts.

Paper Cranes

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Let’s Start from the Beginning

I had my first visit with a psychiatrist yesterday. I wasn’t terribly anxious about it– having been in counseling on and off for the past five years, I have plenty of practice talking about my problems, my life, my medical history. And although having to start from the beginning (“I had my first episode of major depression when I was 13, in eighth grade…”) over and over is exhausting, it can also be refreshing. Not only does it give a new set of earns to listen, but also a chance to reflect on your history and see what new connections come to mind.

But the longer you’ve been suffering, the longer, more complicated, more convoluted the story gets. For me, as of right now, my story includes chronic depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thinking, disordered eating, insomnia, and self-injury. It takes something out of the ordinary to make me feel happy. I feel “neutral” most of the time. When I’m in a major depressive episode, I feel like I just got hit by a bus. I worry a lot. I get panic attacks that make me feel like I’m drowning. The worst panic attacks happen at night, though, when I’m alone, and, having lost my sense of sight to the darkness, am consumed by thoughts of how tiny I am, how insignificant I am, how I am going to die someday, and how even if God does exist, that eternity is a long time and what if I don’t like Heaven? A lot of days I want to run away, or to die (although I don’t really want to die, just to not live the way I am at the moment). Even though I’m not, I feel fat. I might weigh myself 6 times a day, in secret, obsessively. Some nights I can’t fall asleep because my thoughts are consumed by what I ate that day, trying to decide if it was “okay” or not, and what I will do the next day to “control myself.” There are nights I can’t sleep at all, and have to watch TV to try to escape my incessant thoughts. Sometimes I hurt myself. I dig my fingernails into the skin on my back to try to get out all of the feelings that are controlling me. But then when I realize I’ve done it again, I feel guilty and weak, and am mad that I can’t stop myself. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I’m me, and all of this is part of my story, part of who I am, and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of any of it (most of the time).

Generally, though, I’m fine. I go to college, have good friends, and a loving family. Most days my symptoms are not bad, they’re manageable, and although I’m rarely happy, I’m… doing alright. I’m doing the best I can. And I have so many good things going on in my life.

What finally made me decide to see a psychiatrist was the suicidal thinking. There’s a difference between being suicidal and suicidal thinking. I think about dying a lot. I think about wanting to run away, to leave. I think about how much suffering there is in the world, how much pain I’m in, and how much more pain I’m going to go through in the rest of my life, and wonder if there’s even a point to go on. But I know that I won’t kill myself. I feel very safe with myself, and I don’t actually want to die. I still have some hope. There are good days and loving people that make it all worth it.

But I worry that there will come a day that I’m in so much pain that I’m not thinking straight, and I won’t be able see that little bit of hope anymore. Because when you’re depressed, your thoughts aren’t your own. They might come from your own mind, but they’re not yours. You don’t have control over them. The depression hijacks your thoughts, it takes over and you don’t think the same things you would if you weren’t sick. That idea scares me. And as I get older that idea seems like more of a real possibility, more of a real threat. I’ve been struggling with depression on and off for more than five years, and I worry about some invisible pain-tolerance threshold that I might be approaching. I want to be able to live my life, and see the beauty in the world, and feel happiness the same way I used to. I don’t know if that’s possible, but if there’s something I might be able to do about it, it is definitely worth a try. I will never get back the time I have spent sick and depressed. I don’t really want to keep giving away my life to this illness.

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