Tag Archives: anxiety

Yes, I’d like some cheese with my whine. Preferably gouda.

You know those dreams where you’re being chased, but you can’t get your feet to move? And when you try to scream, you discover that you can’t? And you know whatever is chasing you is coming, but no matter how much you will yourself to just keep moving, your body and your mind just won’t cooperate?

Lately, it feels like my life has been that dream.

I have no reason to complain. In fact, everything is going gloriously. I’m thisclose to everything I’ve ever wanted.

But that’s not what the dream is about. It’s about inertia. It’s about the fear of moving forward. It’s about leaving the safe comfort of what you know to venture out into unknown territory.

I’m no dream analyst, but I can make correlations about this dream and what’s happening in my life when I’m most likely to have it.

The summer before I moved away from home for college, I had that dream all the time. I also frequently dreamed I was suddenly 9 months pregnant, which I’ve read is a dream about the fear of change, too. It should have been the one of the best summers of my life — no responsibility, nothing but opportunity ahead of me. But I was paralyzed with fear.

Just before my husband and I left our college town to move here for his graduate school, I went through a nearly debilitating bout of anxiety. For the first time in my life, I was frequently awoken by panic attacks.

At the time, it didn’t feel as related to the move as I know it was now. It wasn’t necessarily thoughts about moving that triggered the attacks. It was daily life. A spilled glass of water, a setback in plans, a traffic jam that left us scrambling to make our movie in time. The most trivial little things would lead to the worst kind of terror.

Now, as we face another major life change, another big move, I find myself spiraling down that path again. This time it feels a little easier. I feel like I’m right on the brink of the worst kind of anxiety I’ve ever faced — the anxiety triggered by change.

It doesn’t matter that the voice of reason in my head tells me not to worry, everything will be okay, these are all good things. The logical side of me knows that. The logical side of me is excited about what’s to come, excited about all the opportunity ahead of us. But anxiety isn’t about logic — it’s about fear. Fear of the unknown, fear that I can’t handle what’s to come, fear that I’ll fail.

I’m working on it. Every day is a struggle to keep myself grounded and avoid spiraling down the path of panic attacks and insomnia. I can cope. I’ve always coped.

But this time it’s also a little harder in a way, because I know what’s it like to live without fear. For six glorious months after I began combining exercise with anti-anxiety medication, I felt good for the first time in my life. But now that another big change is upon me, those feelings are replaced once again by crippling fear.

The only remedy is to trust myself. I have to learn to listen to that voice that knows I’m strong enough to handle what’s the come just like I’ve handled every other major change. In the end, it will all be okay. But getting there is the hard part.

A personal story about anxiety & depression

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for months. In the beginning, I wanted to keep this blog about money. But now that I’m writing more about lifestyle and well being, I feel like it’s appropriate to share something personal about myself that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share here.

Several months ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

I know, in this day and age, what’s the big deal? It seems like everyone has some sort of mental health issue. Diagnoses of anxiety and depression are a dime a dozen. But I’m sharing this here because when it happened to me, it didn’t feel like a dime-a-dozen diagnosis.

For my whole life, I’ve been unhappy for no reason. I thought that when I found the right person, we’d live happily ever after. Then I found Tony and everything was perfect, but it still wasn’t enough. I thought I needed to lose weight to be happy. I lost 40 pounds, and I still felt unhappy. I was working in a job I hated, or struggling with money, or I was unhappy with our location, or I wanted a baby. I always had an excuse for my unhappiness.

Finally, several months ago, Tony and I had a serious talk about it. “It’s always something,” he told me. “I don’t want you to look back 40 years from now and think that you were never happy because something was always missing.”

I decided to see a therapist. We talked about my constant unhappiness. Even though I knew I was blessed and saw all of the reasons I had to be happy, I just couldn’t feel that way.

We talked about how my whole life people had told me, “Why can’t you just be happy? Just wake up tomorrow and decide to be happy.” I can’t tell you how frustrating that was. Of course I wanted to be happy. I wanted to appreciate all of the wonderful things in my life. I tried and tried for years. I felt like there was something wrong with me.

We also talked about the worry and the fear and the anxiety. In a lot of ways, it had prepared me for the worst. It made me plan and think ahead and live carefully. But it also kept me up at night and stole away the happiness that I should have been feeling.

For years, I thought this was just who I was. I lived with it like a constant noise in the background. It drove me crazy, but I didn’t ever think to investigate or find a way to turn it off.

When my therapist suggested I try medication, I was hesitant. I’m sure frequent readers know, I can be a bit of a control freak. I dealt with the fear and anxiety and depression by micro-managing every aspect of my life. I tried to stay one step ahead of everything, and I told myself there was nothing I couldn’t do. I felt like taking medication meant I was surrendering to the depression and anxiety. If I had to “take the easy way out” with medication, then I’d lost.

After some soul searching and discussion with Tony, I made the decision to give it a try. I had tried everything else; it wasn’t working. In fact, things were getting worse. I was open to trying something new.

I was prescribed a low dose of a mild anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. The change in me was instant. It was like someone had finally turned off the static in the background. I could think clearly. I could deal with the feelings of sadness and fear I’d faced my whole life. I finally felt like it was possible for me to wake up in the morning and just decide to be in a good mood.

After three months, I can tell you it’s not magic. It’s still work. I still have bad days. I still feel depressed and anxious sometimes. But a bad day now is nowhere near as bad as my best days before. I feel capable of coping now. I feel like the road blocks that I faced before when I tried to be happy are gone. The blinders have been lifted, and I can finally appreciate the beauty in my life.

Most importantly, it didn’t change who I am. That was my biggest fear; that taking away the anxiety would change my personality or take away all of the things that had allowed me to stay one step ahead.

It didn’t make me a zombie. I’m still a bit of a nut case. I still overreact a little (I’m working on it). But now when I overreact, I don’t take it out on Tony. I don’t completely lose my cool to the point that I feel guilty later. I can cope with changes in plans and problems and bad days much better. I’m still me; I’m just a better, happier version of me.

I still want to plan. I still want to prepare. But now it’s not out of fear, but out of excitement for the future.

I know this is something that a lot of people face, and I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel like I did. You’re afraid to seek help. You’re afraid to try medication. I want to tell you — don’t be. It won’t change who you are. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost. I lost many years of my life when I should have been happy to these feelings of sadness and fear. Don’t waste another day feeling this way.

If you’re considering medication, please feel free to send me an email if you want to talk to someone who’s been there. I’d be happy to tell you about my personal experience with minor side effects and the amazing benefits.

If you feel like you’re losing the battle with depression and anxiety, maybe it’s time to try something new.