My life since has been filled with ups and downs, good days, and downright horrible days. The thing that has stayed consistent is that the bad always passes and the darkness doesn’t last forever. At times, the bleakness of depression, grief, and pain makes me feel completely drained of strength and that all hope of brighter days is gone. When I’m drowning in that torturous sea of anxiety and depression, I cling to the phrase, “this feeling will pass!” And it always does.
The following post was written almost a year and a half ago with some edits for clarity:
December 9, 2019
*Extremely Vulnerable post ahead!*
I debated heavily on sharing some of my experience on this subject. I never talk about my struggle with anxiety. I think a lot of us don’t talk about our self-perceived imperfections.
I feel embarrassed by my struggle. Weak. It’s deeply personal and sensitive. But ultimately, I want you to know that if you suffer from anxiety, you are not alone. There are others out here who know what you’re going through. You are not broken. And it won’t always feel like this…
Anxiety has gotten the best of me this week. My anti-anxiety/OCD meds ran out and I had no more refills. After the pharmacy gave no response, I called my doc’s office directly to ask for refills – the doc was out of town. The on-call doc never followed through. Three separate days I called. Still no meds. Going off anxiety meds cold turkey is never a good idea, especially not when you’re sleep-deprived and postpartum. Case in point, anxiety, and insomnia were having a party in my brain last night and I was up deep cleaning the bathroom at 2 am while everyone else slept.
That was last night’s anxiety mode – excessive energy to mirror my racing thoughts. Tonight’s anxiety had me terrified to put my newborn down to sleep in her bassinet because what if she suddenly dies?! What if I lose her?! I can’t handle having to bury another baby! What if…?!?
My rational brain knew it was anxiety talking. My rational self knows. But anxiety is cruel. Anxiety eclipses all rational. This is just a snapshot of what life is like without my anxiety meds. It’s not pretty. A little over a year ago, I was hospitalized for three torturous days due to a massive panic attack. It was four months after my daughter, Amelia, had died. I had recently had, yet another, early miscarriage.
One evening, I heard that a friend was in labor. She was due just a couple of weeks before Amelia’s due date. The night before she went into labor, we had been talking about our shared experiences with infertility, pregnancy loss, and how complicated that can make pregnancy. I hadn’t realized that conversation would trigger a release of pent-up anguish over the loss of my own baby. It seems so obvious now but, at the time, I believe I was trying so fiercely hard to hold myself together. I didn’t want to allow myself to completely shatter like I had when my son, Wesley, died three years earlier. I knew to the fullest extent how horribly eviscerating grieving your child could be. I was terrified of feeling it all again- compounded with continued grief for Wesley.
It was too much. It is still too much. Talking with my friend that night, I walked away feeling calm and excited for her to meet her baby. I woke up the next morning feeling sheer terror. That began a panic attack longer and more intense than I’d ever experienced before. I suffered through a sense of debilitating panic and anxiety for over 2 weeks before finally admitting that I was drowning and needed help, immediately.
As painful as it is to share about my anxiety, I know that giving our pain a voice can actually help us become stronger. Airing our fears and anxiety with a trusted friend can help bring balance and much-needed perspective into our temporarily muddled anxious reality. Lending your heart to another friend struggling through anxiety and depression can not only lessen their pain but give you strength in numbers. In sharing our struggles, we often gain a battle buddy which, in turn, helps ease the intensity of our fight.
Do you struggle with anxiety and/or depression? How do you experience it? What helps you cope?