Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talk It Out Tuesday: Haley

Anxiety and Depression as I know them

I'm embarrassed to say that this post you're reading should have been available to you 2 weeks ago. Why? Because that's when I was originally asked to do it.

But, almost a day after the request came to me...I was hit by the thing that was to be the subject of this post.

Issues with Anxiety and Depression. The kind that make you shut down in the midst of your daily life....only to cause you immense guilt over all the things you're not getting done.

No, I am not making that little antic up to make my post sound better or more believable....it's the honest truth.

A truth I think most people probably face unexpectedly.

So here are my thoughts and experiences with Anxiety and Depression. I am not a Doctor. I'm just a regular gal...so anything I say here is just for your knowledge. You should always discuss any feelings of anxiety/depression you have as well as ways you'd like to treat them with your Doctor.

Also, it takes a lot to come out so openly like this...but I'm doing it in the hopes it will help people. Any comments or thoughts that you may have are welcome, so long as they are respectful and decent.

First off, let me introduce myself. I'm Haley. I'm 25. I've been happily married to David, my college sweetheart, for 2 years now. We have a strikingly handsome little boy named Jackson who will be 2 in August.

We are both currently in college. Dave is getting his M.A. in English and I'm finishing my B.A. in English (since I took time off after we got married and to have the baby). Dave also works for the college teaching Freshman English. I Blog and Review products HERE, I sell AVON, I'm a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator and I sell things on Etsy.

We are a busy little gang...but we wouldn't have it any other way.

So, what can I tell you about anxiety? Well I know more about it than I do depression. I have had some form of anxiety since I was about 3 years old. It may have started sooner than that, but that's as far back as I can remember.

As a little girl I was always somewhat high strung (I think it's just in my nature and family history). But I think I really began to have issues with anxiety when I had to take extremely high doses of an oral steroid to control my severe asthma.

In elementary school I spent more time in the Texas Childrens Hospital than I did in the classroom. I was very sick...and one of the things that I am certain that kept me from dying (beyond many, Many prayers) was a steroid called Prednisone.

I'm sure you've heard of it. It's used to treat various issues and illnesses. In my case it was to help my lungs regain their strength and immunity after being severely weakened by my asthma.

This drug has many side effects..but the most noticeable one for me was the anxious feeling I got. Take an already high strung little girl who is stressed by illness and then throw in this medicine...for me it was a pretty crazy combo.

***Before I continue..please know I am NOT speaking against this drug AT ALL! It has saved my life multiple times and I am ENORMOUSLY thankful for that! Even with all the anxiety it caused me, I would still do it all over again if I had to.***

The best example I can remember of how it affected me is this: I was at an amusement park with my Mom, Dad, and little Brother. My mom and I had separated from my Dad and Brother to make sure everyone got to go on the rides they liked. Normally I loved all the fastest, highest roller coasters....but since I had been very ill several weeks before, and was still on high doses of steroids, this was a trip where I wanted tame rides only.

So my Mom and I were standing in line for one ride when I spot my Dad and Brother going to get on a fast coaster. In that moment I completely fell apart, screamed, and proceeded to sob and tell my mother that we shouldn't let them get on that ride because they were going to die! (And it was a coaster I had ridden many times before!)

At the times the anxiety came over as a little girl, it was almost always like the example above (although maybe not always as intense). It would always come over me quickly, and I would just come apart at the seams. I would also lose all sense of reality for a moment (which is so not like me! Even as a little girl I was pretty grounded normally) and just spaz out!

By the time I reached my teens I had basically figured out that what I was feeling was anxiety, and could therefore handle it better. This was also when I figured out that if I felt anxious and went shopping it would make me feel better (temporarily), but the next day I didn't really understand the purchases I had made. This habit would lead to running up a big debt when I first started college (one I am still paying off).

My Mom, who is an RN, has always been extremely helpful to me when it comes to living with my anxiety. In H.S. when I was experiencing teen angst in combination with my anxiety issues, she would stay up with me until the wee hours of the morning discussing what I was feeling and why.

I guarantee that the reason why I haven't struggled with it too much, and why I never needed medication for my anxiety is because of my Mom's willingness to talk to me. Because she always really listened, and because she has a great understanding of psychology, she has helped me tremendously!

As an adult I only struggle with anxiety occasionally, because I have become familiar with things I need to do everyday to keep my anxiety at a low point. Some of these include taking long hot baths, treating myself to something special at the store once a month, and eating things that I like*.

*Let me just say that because this is one way that really helps me cope, I am happier...but my behind is also bigger...and that's something I have to deal with everyday!

I also try to get time alone everyday (it doesn't always happen though) for just me! Not for baby or daddy...just me. I like to scrapbook and listen to my iPod or go through and read blogs I love one at a time. Sometimes I'll even go out and catch a chick flick alone after Jackson is asleep and at home with his daddy.

An important part of how I help myself feel good and less anxious or depressed is actually practicing self love! That sounds really silly and life-coachy...but I don't mean for it too!

Seriously, I think Moms more than anyone, tend to put themselves very last on their own priority list (I know I do!). But really, that makes no sense. If you can't be happy and take pride in yourself first...how can you be happy and take pride in all that you've created (your marriage, family, business...etc.)?

So with that question in my mind, I am forever trying to love myself better. And I don't feel guilty and I DO deserve it. I find that attitude has made a HUGE change in my life and emotions from day to day. I used to just mope around and hate myself (more about that next) but all that has changed!

Two books I recommend to help you feel good about yourself and everyday life are:

Princess, You know who you are By: Francesca Castagnoli


Normal is just a Setting on the Dryer By: Adair Lara

These books are full of charm and wisdom, and I turn to them any time I feel anxiousness or sadness coming on.

And so that is how I handle anxiety now.

As far as depression goes, I have far less experience. I really never experienced those kind of feelings until my pregnancy. I wrote a very long and detailed post about my experiences with it HERE, and you can read it if you want more info.

But here's the cliff's notes version for everyone else

As opposed to get Post Pardom Depression....I got it before the baby was ever born. I experienced the worst of it between the 2nd and 4th months of my pregnancy. I didn't take anything for it at the time, obviously because I didn't want to harm the baby. So basically I slept away 2 months of my life.

And for those of you who know me....you know how much I like to get out and do things all the time...so yeah...that was just so bizarre.

After I had Jackson I was very happy and moonlighting with him for almost 3 months...and then a slightly vague sense of depression returned because I was exhausted, isolated, and home alone most of the day.

My first remedy for this was to get out of this house every afternoon. That helped alot! Sunlight is sooo good for you that way! I did decide though to go on some medication once I had stopped breast feeding, because I thought maybe it would help me be more productive around the house and a little more perky.

I got on Cymbalta (Not speaking badly against this drug either. Just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it isn't for everyone). The first month was fine and I felt a little better. But then the second month was INSANE. My highs were there, and they were great....but WHOA the lows! By the end of the third month of taking it I found myself thinking crazy irrational (and kind of scary) thoughts in moments of everyday desperation.

Having a fairly good self perception I caught onto this immediately and called my Mom who was also super frightened by what I said. She told me to quit taking the pills immediately...and I did.

And things got better.

The depression remained (and still does from time to time even now) but I slowly got outside more and found other things to do to help myself feel better. Many of them are the same ones I listed above as remedies for my anxiety.

Another thing that has truly helped me is having something that I am passionate about and working towards it. In my case that is my AVON business and trying to make it bigger and better all the time. That kind of purpose and success has been so gratifying for me!

So that's my journey.

I feel like I've probably left so much out...and I could write so much more....but I think this is sufficient for now.

I appreciate you taking the time to read it and I hope that it might help you, if only just a little.

I blog regularly at Love, Life, Family...and then some and I would love for you to stop by sometime! If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments...or if you'd like you can drop by my blog and leave one there.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

They aren't helping... are they??

I started taking my pills more than a month ago. I didn't feel like they were really working. It's not that I had any adverse reaction, I just wasn't sure that the pills were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I was only on a 10mg dose, after all.

Then I ran out of pills and could not afford to get my refill. 

Five days later, I was having heart palpitations. I got sick and wasn't feeling well, and when my hubs had to go to work, I was almost in tears. I didn't want to be alone, I didn't want him to go to work, I was emotional and my heart was acting funny. What if something was wrong with me?!?! (knocking on wood)

My hubby was sweet. "What happened the last time your heart did this??" he asked me.

I went to the ER... and what did they do? They told me that I was having a panic attack. So what was my hubs advice?? Get some sleep. lol

He called in late to work so I could nap and get some rest. When I awoke, I realized how silly I was being. My heart was feeling better, and I was calm. I suddenly realized how emotional I was, and the idea of it made me even more emotional!!! When my hubs got home from work, I went back to sleep. 

The next day, my hubs scrounged up enough money to go get my pills.

I'll say, that lil 10mg has sure been helping. :) 

And now, when I went to my follow up, my Dr. wants to know if I want to up my dose to 20mg.

Do I... WHAT??

I just got used to the idea of being on them at all. And they seem to be working at 10mg. Can they work better at 20mg? Or do I just not fix something that isn't seeming broken?? I'm so lost...

Anyway - the drugs are slowly working their way back into my system, and until then, I'm still palpitating and stressing. Praying it works soon! :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And the hits keep on comin'

I went to the doc today. I have hypothyroidism and possibly type 2 diabetes (more blood work needs to be done to determine if it's type 1 or 2, more than likely it's type 2). Both of these run in my family, yay for genes! It explains a lot though so I suppose I should be relieved right? Now I know what else is wrong with me, on top of Bi-Polar Disorder and PTSD...woohoo! Pills, pills and more pills...I remember when I was younger saying to my mom how I never ever wanted to be dependent on medication....boy, did I put the wrong message out into the Universe or what? On the bright side of this, I should lose a bunch of weight and will now be forced into eating way healthier :)....

For more info about hypothyroidism click here

**By the way, this is not an April Fool's joke, in case anyone was wondering since it is April Fool's Day...lol...**

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talk it out Tuesday

So today we are doing our first feature! 

Laura has decided to share her story with us, so show some love here and on her blog as well! Thanks :)

If you ask my mother, she will tell you I have been hysterical since birth. I am not sure if that is true, or a projection of her mental state. To say my mom was tempestuous in my younger years would be an understatement. I can’t tell you how many mornings I stood out on the driveway waiting for carpool with her burning hand print on my face or thigh. My embarrassed blush never seemed to hide it.

I don’t want you to think I am blaming my mom for my mental problems. I am sure she did the best she could. No doubt she spent a lot of time and energy hiding her own demons. My poor mom was trapped in a Junior League world where her only option was to produce two kids and an impeccably decorated home. All that mattered is that we, as a family, projected the image that all was well.

I guess some of that rubbed off on me, because when I felt the darkness welling up inside me, I never thought to share with anyone. I saw my increasing mental discomfort as something to be deeply ashamed of and didn’t seek the help I needed.

What happened next is somewhat cliché in the bipolar world: self-destructive behavior, self-medication with alcohol and street drugs, and a string of nightmarish relationships.
I made more mistakes in the past than I can count, but one decision I made had surprising consequences.

When things finally got so miserable for me that I felt like I couldn’t go on, I stepped out of the stream of my life, and went to graduate school for photography. In that environment of exploration, I was finally able to use art to process what was going on internally. I also found an excellent psychiatrist who cared enough about me to take the time to find out what was really wrong.

In my final year of grad school I was finally diagnosed as Bipolar, and I began the work of reclaiming my life. I wish I could tell you it was all down hill from there, that the pieces clicked into place, that it all made sense, that I didn’t have any more episodes of self-destructive behavior, and I didn’t get involved with any more inappropriate men.

The reality is that I struggled, and continue to struggle with finding the right medication. I have had trouble finding a support network of friends and family members who understand, and sometimes I still screw up. (That compulsive spending thing is a doozy of a symptom for me) While I have worked to communicate with my parents about how I really feel, sometimes walls come up on both sides and we can’t connect.

Here comes the happy ending! A little over two years ago I decided to try my hand at match.com. I figured there probably wasn’t a guy out there compatible with my particular brand of crazy, so what could it hurt? I dabbled for a while, alternately frustrated by a lack of tempting choices, and hurt because these guys didn’t seem to find me tempting either.

Then lo and behold I decided to email a guy who sounded kind of interesting…we met a week later and got married in Vegas two weeks after that. Our two year wedding anniversary was last Monday, and our son turns one in five weeks.

I still struggle with my meds, trying to find a balance between effect and side effect. To be honest, if I could find a psychologist out here to chat with, I would probably jump on it. I still have days when I feel the darkness lapping at my ankles, and my spending problem is definitely enabled by all those dang cute cloth diapers out there. But you know what, I am happy.


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