Saturday, January 10, 2009

Living in fear

So, I briefly addressed something in my last post. My anxiety. And since I haven't written about it much, I thought I would share a little about it.

I really didn't have a name for my issues until maybe the last four years. And as I look back to when I was little and as I grew up, I can see how it has manifested itself as I have grown. But I think right now is the worst it has ever been.

I've got a history of car accidents. Never the driver though. And being in a car can wreak all kinds of havoc inside my head. I am terrified. I freak out. I am grabbing onto things so that I won't die. Inside my head I can see our van with a side bashed in, my children unconscious in their seats......I really see this. Every time I drive past an accident I feel sick in my stomach. Once, on a freeway out here, I witnessed a van have a tire blow out, and it fell onto it's side. It had many small kids in it, and most of us on the freeway stopped and got out and helped the family out. I was so traumatized that I couldn't go and teach my piano lessons that day.

Getting on an airplane is terrifying. We were flying from DC to Germany and we had to fly through a snowstorm. It was like an earthquake in there for an hour. I was pregnant with Lucy, Andrew had just had his surgery at Walter Reed, and I truly thought that I was going to die. I was terrified. Now, just the thought of getting on a plane makes me sick to my stomach, and when someone in my family flies, I am worried about them until I know they have arrived.

Tornado warnings and watches in North Carolina were the absolute worst. I would search the skies every few minutes. I would pack our hall closet with water and our important papers. I wouldn't be able to sleep until the warning/watch had been expired. I would keep the TV on the news so that I could see continual updates on the weather. I couldn't read, eat, or focus on anything else until it had passed.

This drive across the United States was a little terrifying for me too. And last weekend when we were in Utah and the snow was just coming down like crazy. The parking lots and small areas were incredibly icy. My dad couldn't make it up the hill to my aunts house because of how much snow there was on the road. I was sick to my stomach.

And even just last night, I think I'm going crazy. I was going to run to Trader Joe's (oh wonderful Trader Joe's!!!) and Lucy was having a hard time that I was going to leave. It was bedtime and she was just freaking out. And inside my head I had thoughts, well, what if I don't come back? What if she's freaking out because she has some sixth sense that I'll get into an accident and I won't come back? On the way there I saw three police cars and that freaked me out too.

I tell you people, I am a basket case. As a little girl I was terrified of fireworks. I would do my best to stay up when we would drive to Utah (my dad always drove in the middle of the night. we would sleep instead of argue. and with six kids in the car.....) to make sure my dad stayed awake. I wouldn't do things all the time because I was scared. And it has gotten a lot worse as I have gotten older.

I am a mess people. An absolute mess. And we have moved several times, and I just never seem to have the time to find me someone that can help me with this. I've been laughed quite a bit over this. I was explaining some of this to someone once, and she said to me "well, have you talked to your Heavenly Father about this?" And while I am a religious person and have no problems doing so, I also believe he isn't going to help people that don't help themselves. I have to make an effort to help myself. I need to get to a doctor and maybe even get on medication. It is quite irritating to me to be in a religion where so many people think that just "praying, reading your scriptures and going to church" are going to fix incredibly complicated problems. When Matt flew back to NC last week, I told him to call me every time he had a layover and to call me when he got there so that I wouldn't be a bundle of nerves. I had actually prayed and asked for help so that I would be calm. I was much calmer than I have ever been, but I was SO GLAD when he called and said he was on the road and our friend had picked him up.

I remember watching A Beautiful Mind and watching him be terrified that someone was out to get him. (how accurate that move is, I don't really know, but....) Now I understand that fear, and how very real it is. No, I don't hear things or see people (thank goodness I'm not that crazy) but my fears are so real. Matt tries to help me laugh (like when there were tornado watches), he tries to help me see what is really happening, that we really are safe, but eventually gives up because there is just no helping me when I get to that point.

For this, and a few other possible depression related issues, I am DETERMINED to go and find help. I don't want to live like this. I don't want my kids to have a crazy mom. I don't want the rest of my life to be lived in fear. I want to be able to get on a plane and fly to Europe again without having to use the toilet every hour because my insides are sick. I want to be able to fall asleep in a car again and not jerk awake every time someone slows down or hits a bump in the road.

Why am I like this? I have no idea. If I could control it in anyway, I would. But I don't know how. I have a friend who has a daughter that "worries" a lot. And this friend has found her daughter a doctor to help her daughter with her anxiety. This little girl is only 10. And sometimes I wonder if I had gotten help for my anxieties when I was a little girl if I would be the mess of an adult that I am today. I don't think my parents knew enough about this sort of stuff. And my brother that REALLY needed help, they tried, but...anyway. Better late than never right?

So, now if someone shares that they are on paxil, zoloft, or wellbutrin or any other medication like that, I ask a lot of questions. What does it feel like? Does it help? Do you notice a difference on and off? And I can't wait to try something like them. I look forward to the day when I can sit as a passenger in a car and not freak out. To when I can get on an airplane and be relaxed. When it happens, I think I'll have a party. :)


Mary Alice said...

I think you are wonderfully brave to face your fears and get help for them. Thank you for your candid writing about anxiety. It must be so hard to live that way...and I am excited for you to experience life without those fears lurking.

poppy fields said...

I took seroplex (french, I don't know what it is in the USA) for 9 months after my Dad died and my anxiety attacks got out of control. It really helped me get back to the place where I could just breathe and function calmly. I still have anxiety issues (insomnia due to worrying for example)and I am trying exercising in the form of a lot of walking, to calm my nerves. But somedays it feels like I might have to walk across Europe in order to feel any better...but the medicine did help me get through a bad period.

Jen said...

There was a point in my life when Paxil was very helpful for anxiety. It's an awful feeling, good luck, and good for you for looking for help.