If I am going to post every day for a whole month, lets be honest, it is going to get personal. (Did you hear I am doing NaBloPoMo? Anyway…)
First off, sorry to any real life friends or family members who I have not talked to directly about this. I love you all, but sometimes I am better at writing then talking. I know, hard to believe with how much I talk, but it is the truth.
I have anxiety.
I have always had anxiety. But recently it has gotten a lot worse.
I remember when I was in junior high and high school I used to (I still do sometimes) get big red hives on my neck when I was nervous. I did okay, I managed it. Other then getting teased about having a hickey…… that was fun (insert sarcasm).
I used to go through conversations with people in my head over and over again anxiously. And I remember always feeling that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, terrified that I might have said something wrong the day before and I when I arrived at school that day everyone would hate me. You know, typical teenager stuff. I managed.
In university I started to get weird about crowds. I hated class change with everyone elbowing each other to get to class through packed narrow hallways. It made me nervous. But I got through. I remember having mild anxiety over all sorts of things, but again, mild.
But you know, big crowded places- so not my thing. Super loud movies with a packed theater, crowded malls, concerts, The Calgary Stampede, so not my thing. I started to get mild anxiety attacks. Really, it was just an intense feeling that something was wrong and I had to get out. I need to shut out the world and all the noise and people and stimulation for a while. I would get really grumpy. But, as soon as I got out and had some space I was fine. And really, I didn’t find much redeeming about these crowded situations, so avoiding them? No big deal.
And then I had Audrey. I am sure, now, looking back that I had mild to moderate postpartum. But I managed. Good supportive family. Good supportive husband. And blogging therapy. A baby that slept. I managed. I knew it would get better.
But a couple months ago I started getting anxiety attacks for no reason. In August, while I was on vacation, they woke me up in the middle of the night. I gather that everyone’s experience of an anxiety attack is different, but the best way I can describe mine is that my “flight” instinct goes into overdrive- I am convinced that SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG but I have no idea what. I feel like I need to escape it but I have no idea how. My back tenses up. I feel sick to my stomach. My mind goes a mild a minute and I can’t concentrate. It feels like my skin is crawling. It sucks. Like a lot, a lot.
Then I started getting them at work. That was when I knew I was in real trouble. It was just so weird. I was used to my anxiety having a clear, identifiable cause– big crowds, sometimes awkward social situations. That’s it. So if I started to feel anxious, I had something I could ‘fix’ and voila- anxiety gone. But now I had no identifiable cause, no thing to ‘fix’, just long, uncomfortable anxiety attacks.
I tell you because when it comes to mental illness (any illness really) I believe it is important to share our stories.
Tomorrow I want to talk to you all about my experience from point of ‘oh my gosh I need to do something about this’ to, well, now. And my thoughts about our approach to mental health in general. But I think I have shared enough for today.