Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why I've been MIA...

... and what I plan to do about it.

Ok. I know I've posted probably three times this entire month, and I keep saying "I'm overwhelmed" or "Life's crazy" etc. etc., but I often feel like I'm making light of a situation that is weighing incredibly heavy on my psyche. I debated whether or not to even post this, but I'm not ashamed and I'm an open book and I'm a "problem-half-solved" so why not? (Apparently I'm also a purporter of run-on sentences.)

I have a generalized anxiety disorder; if you know me at all- you already knew that. I was diagnosed two years ago when panic attacks and an overwhelming fear of life itself caused me to almost flunk out of my student teaching. I was crying every day before and after work, Robert was the only person I really felt ok with, I slept away my weekends, I basically stopped eating, and my hair even began to fall out. It was terrifying, but honestly it was even scarier when the doctor told me I had to go on anti-depressants. The medicine worked instantly, and within two days I was confident and a completely different person. I just never could shake the thought that I needed chemical substances to cope with everyday life. I vowed I'd take the meds for the obligatory 9 months and then I'd find a way to deal with my brain on my own.

It's been two years, and I'm still on my low dose anti-depressant. I was told perhaps after the wedding and the move I would be able to come off the drugs but right now that's looking impossible. I was doing so well! Exercising and eating better. I barely have panic attacks anymore, and although my stress level stays high pretty much of the time, I thought that was normal for a first year teacher. I don't know what happened, but over Christmas break my anxiety came back. I've been struggling with nightmares, exhaustion, and TMJ (Tense Muscles of the Jaw? I think that's what it stands for...) plus some other symptoms I'm not going into for approximately two months. I dabbled in some yoga, I ate fruits and veggies, I started running... Nothing worked. I finally booked a doctor's appointment, and today she doubled my medication.

I'm so frustrated I want to scream and cry and hit things! But I just plaster on the smile and tell myself "I'll deal". I just wish I could convey how it feels to be a prisoner in your own body. My emotions never match my reactions- I don't even have to feel stressed or anxious during the day and I'm still clenching my jaw all night. It was so odd to feel blissfully happy at our wedding, but to suffer from insomnia my entire honeymoon! Even in a $200 a night gloriously comfy king sized bed, I could only sleep for 3 or 4 hours at a time.

But I'm not ready to give up yet. My dream is to not be dependent on medications for too much longer, and I think I can get there. So in my typical "Quit complaining and start a revolution!" style, I'm coming up with a plan to fight back against my inner demons. Hold me to it. And forgive me if my blogging goes AWOL in these uncertain times...

1. More spirituality- I already pray about this a lot, and I feel like in theory I should be able to just give my worries over to God, but for some reason he wants me to keep them. I'm going to find out why through more bible study, more quiet prayer time, and more discussions about this with my spiritual life partner- my hubby. He's been my "stress ball" and the only one who helps me cope with this, so I know God put him in my life to help me here.

2. More yoga and exercise- I've always wanted to be a yogi, here's my chance. I'm going to really try to do 20 minutes of yoga every day. I know that's ambitious, so on days where I'm exhausted or too tired, I'll let meditation count. I'm also going to keep up with my exercise regimen, subbing long walks with the husband and the dog when I'm too emotionally drained to go for a run. Anything is better than nothing.

3. Get educated- I'm headed to the library this weekend before I go home. I want to read up on what the heck is going on with my brain, why meds seem to be the only thing that works, and what my outlook is for the future. I'm also going to be very diligent with my medication so that it can do its thing and hopefully heal my neurotransmitters for good.

Ok- I think three goals are a good place to start, so I'll be back and giving updates on how I'm doing with them. I feel incredibly brave and liberated just by posting this, so hopefully I'm off to a good start. I think a lot of people with GAD are afraid to admit it, because it really is like admitting a weakness. But I think one of the reasons God gave me this trial is so that I can help others who are suffering in silence.

xoxox and Good Night

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