I've had this blog since the waning days of December 2004. In that time I think I've only blogged about my anxiety and/or depression (take your pick!) once, when I convinced myself The Dude was dead after he was late picking me up from work. As it happened we got our signals crossed - I thought he was to pick me up, he thought I was going out after work with friends. I spent my 35 minute walk home in tears, convinced the police would be parked in front of my building to tell me he was killed. I even closed my eyes when I turned down my street. I am such a drama queen.
The crazy goes way back. As a child I was very anxious, convincing myself at the age of 10 that I was dying of cancer and my parents just didn't want to tell me the bad news. As it happens it was just a swollen lymph node, but I still remember walking down the isles of a supermarket, with its sterile fluorescent lighting illuminating my thoughts of certain death. My Mom was pushing the cart in front of me and all I could think of was how this would probably be the last time I'd be able to go grocery shopping with my Mom. Ah yes, I was a cheery child.
When I was young, my Mom would often have to come into my room at bedtime and practice relaxation techniques with me. I was supposed to close my eyes and think of a place I'd like to be, and Mom would prompt me by narrating what the chosen place would be like. I always chose the beach, so the visualisations largely centred around curtains blowing in the salty air, the sound of crashing waves, and seagulls squawking in the distance. It always worked for that night, but by the next day I was back to worrying about my parents dying in a car accident, my brother having a fatal seizure, or my own mortality.
I blame it all on my brother and my Dad. The choice of death by seizure isn't arbitrary - my brother suffered from numerous seizures for the first two years of his life. I was the one who found him in his crib after his first. I was 6, and like the supermarket death walk, the image is fresh in my mind. I still see my Mom pacing up and down our family room, clutching my unconcious brother as he made horrible high-pitched wailing noises. After a particularly nasty Grand mal about six months after his first seizure, he was hospitalised. The day he went into the hospital I was home alone with my Dad, whose throat decided it was the perfect time to seize a piece of ring bologna. I laugh now as it seems so very random to choke on ring bologna and burst all of the blood vessels in one's eyes, but at the time I was helpless and of course, anxious. I watched my Dad struggle to breathe, knowing I could do nothing but scream and perhaps call 911. After what seemed like an age, he coughed up the offending piece of bologna, and we went on with our day like nothing happened.
Since then, my life has been peppered with moments of such abject panic that I wonder how I made it out on the other side without bald patches and stark white hair. I was treated for depression in my late teens and early 20s, sampled an assortment of anti-depressants, and went to some therapists whose main purpose seemed to be getting me to admit I was neglected as a child.
I disposed of the anti-depressants once the one I had been on for awhile stopped working, the second gave me a nasty case of sandy vag, and the third made me cry all the time, thus defeating the purpose of an anti-depressant. I was fine for awhile, until I started to get depressed about where my life wasn't going. I hadn't moved away from home yet since I went to a local university, and at 22 I was in the same exact place, doing the same exact thing as I was at 16.
I started to get anxious about The Dude. I wanted to know where he was all the time, and I was convinced every day that he would die in a car accident or be diagnosed with a fatal disease. I often made myself physically sick numerous times, and dosed myself up with Nyquil many nights in an effort to get some sleep.
I suspected the anxiety would ease once I left the life I considered a dead end, and it worked for a little while. Once I moved to the UK I was happy and fairly anxiety-free for a few months. Unfortunately for me I came down with something my GP classified as the ever-so-helpful "virus", a virus which affected my vestibular system for a fabulous seven months. That plunged me back into worry and I felt as if I would never get rid of the evil virus. I pictured myself unable to read a book again (a charming side effect of this virus), or ride in a car without being sick. It was a grim future I didn't like to think about. I lived off Nyquil for those months, because otherwise I would have gotten no sleep. I'm sure doctors would lecture against self-medicating, but as they had been no help in diagnosing or dealing with this ailment, I dealt with it myself.
Once I felt better, I went back to focusing my anxiety on The Dude. Beyond the usual car accident/brain aneurysm scenarios, The Dude kindly developed migraines which paralysed him for a couple of days each time. While The Dude was in our darkened bedroom vomiting into a buckt and other general miserableness, I sat in our front room unable to anything but have panic attacks. His last one occurred a few days before my egg retrieval, and it was all too much pressure for me. I called up my Mom mid-panic attack, unable to breath or speak, so that was helpful. She kept saying, "What? I can't understand you. Take deep breaths!", whilst I made gasping noises and odd wails.
Now I have a baby, so yet another person to worry about. At first I worried about her incessantly. Now I've moved on from her own physical well-being to her emotional well-being. How is that, you say? I'm a fucking freak ladies, so of course I am now worried about me getting sick and dying, or being otherwise incapacitated. I'm not so concerned about me, but how that would affect her. These days it's hard for me to look at her without envisioning her growing up without me. When I write in her baby book I ensure it reflects my personality so that if she reads it and I'm not around, she would know what sort of person I was.
I have recently diagnosed myself with about two or three debilitating neurological diseases thanks to various television programmes and newspaper articles. I don't think I'm a hypochondriac, despite the fact that I can only watch House selectively and I've decided to stay away from ER altogether. When I think something is wrong with me, I'm just not capable of believing it to be anything harmless. I'm all about the black and white - I'm either perfectly healthy, or near desintegration.
I've not blogged about my anxiety in detail before because I usually can't face it. When I'm in a very bad place, the last thing I want to do is address those feelings full on by discussing it. I suppose it would probably be helpful in an aversion therapy type of way, but I don't want to go where all that negativity will take me. I only have so much Nyquil.
I'm bringing this up now because I have finally gotten off my ass and decided to do something about the anxiety. Last week I didn't eat for two days, and I could barely function with all the miserable thoughts I was having. I owe it to myself to be able to wake up in the morning and feel calm, not starting the day terrified that something bad is about to happen. I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow, and I'm desperately hoping I'll be given a prescription for something, anything. I'm not keen on going on medication again, but I can't keep living like this. I want to be able to not see death and illness around every corner. I hope that place exists, even if I can only see it with a little help.