5/19/14

My Name is Hilary and I have Anxiety

I have been less here than before lately (awesome sentence, right?). And it's because I have been going through stuff. Ya know, vague stuff in my other posts. Let me explain.

Yes, that is a bleach stain on my shoulder. It was cleaning day at home. 

Hi. My name is Hilary and I have anxiety.

Is that how you say it? Or do you say "I am anxious". Is anxiety something you have? I feel like it's sometimes just something you are.

This is a post I have rewritten over and over again and debated sharing at all. Who wants to talk about this stuff? And WHO, in their right mind, wants to make it public?

But consistently, I am brought back to this blank page. Knowing that I must write it but just not sure how.

This is something close to me. It's an inner battle that I have had inside for a long time.

And the thing is, I think someone out there needs to hear it. Someone needs to know that this problem that they have, I have had too. So I am writing this for you, whoever you are.

At the beginning of February, I went and saw a Psychologist.

But lets not jump ahead here.


Before, I had never been diagnosed but I could tell that I wasn't like your average person. I was hyper-sensitive, nervous, and constantly worrying.

I remember in college when I was single, it was kind of charming or cute that I worried so much. My friends would joke fondly that I had OCD or had anxiety but I think we all knew there was a little more truth to it than anyone really wanted to mention. While I was pregnant with Geddy, I had one of my best friends tell me that they had gone to the doctor for anxiety/depression and gotten on medication and how much it helped. She strongly encouraged me to see somebody but I was so scared to and wasn't struggling as much with the anxiety at that time.

In my life, my anxiety has come and gone in waves. Sometimes it's really hard and bad and others, it's not as significant. When I experienced a miscarriage about 5 years ago, my anxiety really peaked but I never went to talk to anyone about it. I don't think I knew that's what it was but looking back, I can clearly see it.

Last year was a really hard year for our little family. Part of our immediate family was going through some super challenging changes. Chad and I have always been good but it was still stressful for us. The stress that I experienced during this time was a bit of a trigger for my anxiety.

It was like a switch was flicked and I was gone. The happy, confident, woman was stricken and distracted with worry and paranoia and I could tell something wasn't right. I didn't feel like myself. I was anxious about everything.

(I do want to clarify that I was able to care for Geddy just fine. He was always safe and secure and my priority).

I feel like I tried everything to fix it. I read more conference talks and scriptures, I prayed more, I went to the temple more. I changed the way I was eating and started doing yoga. I remember crying to the Lord a number of times begging that this would be removed from my life. That he could just make me better. It was so confusing. I didn't get it. I am so blessed and live a beautiful life but for some reason, I wasn't able to be at peace or happy about it.

I got several blessings and grew to know that this was something I agreed to. This was a trial that I was meant to bear. The hard part was actually bearing it. Selfishly, I was hoping to find the moment when the Lord said, "okay, good job, you're done". But sometimes, that's just not how things go.

There were multiple times where Chad and I discussed seeking outside help. Bless Chad's heart. That man deserves a cookie because he was so patient and supportive and present. I worried about just being put straight on medication without the Doctor listening to my concerns or caring about my unique situation. There was a lot of fear. And I felt like I wasn't getting an answer of what to do.

And then, after 7 really hard months, it came.

This specific day I was feeling particularly anxious. I had a moment where I was upset and crying and I had the thought, as if it wasn't my own, that said "you can't do this by yourself".

I knew I needed to call a doctor. I immediately called my insurance to find out if I would be covered to see a Counselor or Therapist or something and luckily, I was. I wanted someone who could identify what was going on, so I decided to go with a Psychologist.

My hope was to find a Doctor that I could feel comfortable and connected with. I remember looking at a list of Doctors' names and praying to know which one to go to. I wanted so badly to talk to the right person so I took special efforts to choose the right one. I finally found one that I felt good about and called immediately to make an appointment. I knew if I waited that I would chicken out and say "I was just pms-ing" and not follow through.

Scheduling that appointment was on of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.

I will call her Dr. B, just because I feel strange disclosing her last name. And she was fantastic. She was just what I needed.

We started with a little small talk that was friendly and funny and then once that naturally ended she started off by saying. "Now Hilary, why are we here today?" and I just started balling. That's all it took. I talked her ear off and cried for nearly 50 minutes straight and she just listened. She would add little tid bits here and there (when I would let her) but she let me talk about what was happening inside my head. I talked about my past and family and what was stressing me out and how I felt. Then, at the end, it was her turn. She took about 20 minutes and broke it all down for me.

Everything she said made sense. It was like all of sudden, I understood myself and my situation better. I was less confused. She diagnosed me as having Anxiety with an Obsessive Element. Which seems about right to me. I get nervous and anxious and obsess over it. But, I don't have any obsessive routines or rituals.

Then she discussed my options with me. Before we even discussed it, I was really hesitant to get on medication. I didn't want the medication to just be a band aid over a bigger issue or underlying problem.

Dr. B taught some good ways to recognize and avoid "triggers" and how to handle them when they come up. It was all so helpful and then she added neutrally "medication is also an option". I could tell that she was trying to not pressure me but I needed more input than that. Dr. B is someone I really like and had grown to really trust her professional opinion during that hour long appointment. So I asked completely candidly and looked her square in the eye-

"With your professional opinion and knowing my situation, do you think I should get on medication?"

And with such dedication and confidence she replied

"Absolutely."

And it was the answer that I needed.

I scheduled another appointment to meet with a nurse practitioner so we could discuss what medication would work for me.

And that day was when I started to heal. It was the moment where I knew things were going to turn around.

So about 3 weeks later, I met with an amazing nurse Practitioner. I will refer to her as "G". She was young, intelligent, and had twins 9 months earlier. She related to my situation (other than I am not an awesome nurse) and she too had problems with anxiety. She shared some amazing things with me and listened to me and my concerns.

One of my biggest concerns is wanting to have another baby soon. I know that's personal but it's a concern that a woman in my situation has. I want to be able to carry a child through pregnancy and delivery and nursing without harming the child but while still being in good mental health. And we discussed all of it.

She also went on to tell me, with such chilling conviction-

"NEVER stop doing Yoga. It is a proven health benefit. Never stop".

and then she went on to something that made my eyes water-

"Hilary, it seems like you are in a good place in your life. You are doing good things and I feel really optimistic about your future."

And then she handed me my prescription.

That little slip of paper was a curious thing. I had so much HOPE in it and FAITH. I wanted this little paper to be the result of something that will help.

I wanted to feel like myself again. I wanted to be that happy woman who loves to laugh and dance silly and be fun.


And so-

I have been on my medication for 2 months.

And how do I feel?

Great.

I really do, I feel like I can better handle the things that come my way.

Is my anxiety completely gone?

Nope.

And I don't know that it ever will.

But, I can now cope and handle my anxiety. It's not nearly as bad.

And I don't obsess.

The medication has kind of taken "the edge off", if you will.

And is medication for everyone? I really am not the one to say. I am not a professional, I can only explain what happened to me and my situation.

And could my situation change in the future? Sure. But right now, I am doing well. Really well. And I will always be cautious about how I am doing.

My biggest advice for anyone who thinks they may be struggling with anxiety or maybe depression, consider your options. Don't be afraid to talk to someone about it. There is help out there and you can get better. It sometimes takes trying everything but don't give up on it. You will find your inner peace. And I am not just talking about medication because that isn't for everyone. Maybe just talking to a therapist or counselor would help you through a confusing time. Life is hard and sometimes, you need a little help. Don't be afraid to ask for it.

And if you want to ask me questions about anxiety or just have someone to complain about it to, let me know. I want to help and be an ear for anyone to talk to.

There you go. That is my journey and I continue to heal and progress.


Happy Monday!

Hil

P.S. This must be declared, even if it's cheesy and on the internet. Chad, you are one special, unique, dude. Thank you, from one best friend to another.  I literally could not have done this without you. A million fist pumps to you my dear friend!


3 comments:

Chad said...

I love you so much Hilary- I'm so proud of you. Such bravery and poise in the face of terrible tribulation (I'm with you no matter what, got it?)

Gena said...

Thanks for sharing. Sounds like my journey. I tried everything to try to overcome my depression/anxiety. It seems as a church we really want to do it on our own, or with a miracle from God. When, in reality, He had already given us the miracle of drs and medicine, and we have to be willing to face it and ask for help. Kudos to you. What a great hubby to help you through it. It's a difficult thing to understand if you don't deal with it personally. Hope you continue to feel better. You are blessing others with your story. :)

Holly said...

You're amazing little sis! I SO admire your courage and faith. Love you!