Diapers and Dragons

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weak and Weepy

I've never been particularly good at admitting my weaknesses. The sorts that can be deprecatingly laughed about, like my lack of self-control when it comes to shoes or dark chocolate with raspberries, my obsession with the numbers on radio volume control, my tendency to twitch when I see apostrophes used for plurality...fine. Those are the sorts of weaknesses we fondly call "foibles," those little quirks of personality that transform us into special little snowflakes, possibly just a touch flakier than the next one over.

But real weaknesses? The sort that require trips to therapists, medication, incredible patience on the part of those who live with us?

Not so much.

I spent at least three years mired in high-functioning postpartum depression because I couldn't bring myself to ask for help. I was so good at hiding the despair poisoning my soul that most people made all sorts of admiring comments on how Together I was, what a SuperWoman I was...Ha. It didn't help that the one time I did tell The Ex that I thought I was depressed and in trouble, he told me to suck it up. I kept my mouth shut for another six months after that, and by then I had fallen so much further that I almost didn't make it back out.

I've come a long way since then, but I still struggle to admit that I'm, well, struggling. I have the few individuals who are "safe": DraftQueen, Heidi, Amy, and of course MTL. I don't fear judgment from them, in part because they have all Been There in one way or another, and because they love me for who I really am rather than who I would like people to think I am.

And...I just realized I'm doing a very good job of avoiding what I came here to say. You see what I mean?

Enough stalling.

I struggle with anxiety and depression. It's nothing like what I once experienced, especially the depression aspect, but I deal with anxiety on a daily basis. I'm even (gasp) medicated for it (shh, don't tell anyone) (because we all know that people who have to take medication for that mental crap are nutjobs and shouldn't be trusted), because panic attacks have a nasty way of interfering with one's ability to get through the day.

I have a feeling I always will. For one, it runs in my family, on both sides. For another, studies have shown that highly intelligent women are also highly prone to anxiety, because we overthink EVERYTHING. Mother Nature giveth and she taketh away with the other hand, the stingy bitch.

Oh, and I do kind of have a stressful life, despite the many delightful compensations.

I've been struggling this week. I've been a good girl and taken my little pill every morning, and I still find myself short of breath, my arms burning, my heart racing. I haven't had a full-fledged panic attack (thank you, pharmaceuticals), but I've come close. I keep telling myself and others that I don't really have a good reason for it, but I suspect I'm lying.

I've dealt fairly well with my grandfather's death. After all, he was old and in pain and he passed so peacefully. It's the way to go, you know? BUT. He was the first of my grandparents to die. And watching my grandmother face life without her beloved...I think that struck too close to home. I can't stop thinking about what it would be like to have to keep going without MTL.

I struggled with that reality last year, when something made me realize that I had allowed MTL to get closer than anyone else in my entire life. This meant that I also had opened myself up to incredible pain, because losing him would be like losing a part of myself. I remember weeping one night and finally confessing to him that I was terrified of letting him in that much, because it meant that one day he would die and I would have to deal with that pain.

He didn't tell me I was being silly (though he would have been fully justified in doing so), rather telling me that he understood my fear, but that we couldn't allow our fear of death and losing each other prevent us from living life and loving fully.

He was right.

So I'm not falling apart over the thought now, but that fear and anxiety are finding other ways to make themselves known. And let's face it, I'm not good at dealing with this.

What do you do about your anxiety? What works? Because I'm asking for help.

5 bits of love:

Kirsten said...

I also struggle with depression and anxiety. Especially in the fall and spring, but ESPECIALLY in the fall. I have a dozen theories about why this is, but it never seems to make it any easier when it roles around every year.

This year I found acupuncture to be immensely helpful. Along with therapy, exercise, diet, writing, and telling friends about how I was feeling. I felt like the acupuncture helped to peel back a very specific physical fogginess and heaviness of the depression. After that I felt more freedom to work through the emotional side of the picture.

You do lead such a stressful life! And the death of a beloved grandparent is huge. I hope you are gentle with yourself in recognizing the load you carry right now.

Middle State/MomZombie said...

Two hours of intensive -- and I mean intensive -- exercise at the gym does wonders to alleviate the anxiety. Accept that this is what you are feeling right now and take care of yourself.

Monica said...

Exercise, sleep, water, prayer, breathing, silence. Talking to someone who loves me.

That's the idea anyway. I struggle with depression and anxiety (and of course, it's because I'm highly intelligent, right?), or at least I suspect that I do, and it sucks. Completely.

Drinking enough water is a HUGE factor for me. I notice such a difference if I don't do it. And I forget a lot. And I suspect that if I slept like a normal person -- as in, more than 4-5 hours average per night -- I might actually feel damn good. Hmmmm...

It's interesting that admitting to this is such a big deal: I think most women I know deal with it. Life is just damn hard, don't you think? Even in happy families...

Heidi said...

I think this is part of why I've been on such a Pinterest craft-finding binge...because it's a non-spendy way for me to channel positive energy, so to speak.

I'm not saying it's any sort of cure, because obviously it's not, but it is a good distraction. Starting to art journal (in my crappy way) is also proving to be fun. Both that and the craft-dreaming are completely non-pressure ways for me to zone out. And zoning is good.

One of the most *effective* things I've ever done, that I really should do again, is meditation training. Relaxation/meditation tapes (I guess they'd be on CD these days!) really can be incredible at relieving anxiety. I should go dig up my old one, come to think of it.

SmileyLovesSunshine said...

Walking,(able to think, pray, look at nature and create endorphins)reading (a distraction),talking with a friend, bubble baths, baking... playing with children

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