Any of this sound familiar? You can’t sleep because you worry someone is upset with you. Your cell phone rings and your mind naturally fears the worst. You wonder why you weren’t invited to an event with your girlfriends. Are they mad at me? When your husband is quiet, you automatically assume something is wrong. You beat yourself up reliving the mom fail moments. You compare yourself to other moms because they are perfect in your mind. Just when life seems calm, you seem to find something to worry about.
My anxiety takes me back to second grade. At an early age I learned, the importance of not making eye contact with my teacher. Locking eyes meant she would call on me. A simple glance from my teacher made my palms sweat, my heart thump, and then the blotchy rash on my neck and chest would ignite. Everyone was looking at me…I was convinced. You know the kid who holds it all in at school and then unleashes at home? That was me, just ask my mom.
Anxiety followed me through my school years and beyond. I would over analyze a situation to the point of nausea that did not deserve my time. On the outside I was a ball of positive energy, yet on the inside my body was so tired of over overcompensating to mask my worry. Anxiety is exhausting, mentally and physically. As women, as moms, we feel this need to be strong. In the most unexpected way, I found relief for the relentless anxiety that consumed me back to my childhood. Friends, you can only be so strong before you break.
Even in the hard, you find hidden blessings. Following surgery for endometriosis, a fertility specialist put me on a series of Lupron injections. The shots put you into immediate menopause within weeks and stop the production of estrogen. Endometriosis is fed by estrogen, so stopping the production would provide a chance to conceive. Three months, that was my magic window to get pregnant. The window was up, and I was not pregnant. Menopause at any age is not appealing to me, especially at the age of 27. Weight gain, soaked clothing from hot flashes, mood swings (my poor husband)…you name it, I lived it. When you mess with hormones, you feel like you have lost control. My body was confused, no baby in our future, and I felt out of control. A simple daily task often led to moments of panic. Shame on me for judging others who experienced panic attacks. Yes, I knew anxiety but panic attacks…that seemed like a bit of an exaggeration. Lesson learned…they are real.
Let me be real and raw for a moment. During that 3 month window of fertility shots, I was unable to socialize with friends. Going to the grocery store felt impossible. I became and expert “avoider” of any type of social interaction. I would do anything to avoid leaving the house. Anxiety inside me is always lurking, but this was different. I lost the true sense of myself. My husband was worried and looking back, I missed out on living life. I put on a happy face, but inside I was hurting.
My breaking point happened in the lobby outside my doctor’s office. I adore my doctor, but on this day, I could not make myself walk in the door. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other felt impossible. My legs would not move, I felt paralyzed, and by the grace of God a nurse grabbed my hand and walked me into a side door of the office. That was the day, the day, my entire view on life changed. Never again would I feel this way.
My doctor knew me, we had a history. She knew what I needed immediately when she looked in my eyes. I am anxious by nature and she knew we were beyond the typical “Anxious Angie.” She wrote a prescription for anxiety medication and without hesitation I cried and hugged her. I needed a professional to reassure me at that very moment that life would become balanced again. I was going to be okay. Big tears, ugly tears, the ugly cry that left me gasping for air. Anxiety was a part of me, yet I knew I was at a place that I needed medical intervention. She explained the power of hormones in our bodies. Anxiety is challenging enough, then you add hormonal changes…wow! My husband, the one who loves me at my worst, quickly noticed that I found myself again after taking the medication. That was 14 years ago. Paired with therapy, I continue to dig deep into the roots of my anxiety. Life is more clear, I am able to navigate through obstacles, let go of the small things, sleep is deeper, and still experience all the feels and emotions.
The stigma of medication continues to evolve. Asking for help, admitting we are overwhelmed, making an appointment with a therapist, sharing your story without shame, and listening to other moms without judgement is empowering. Initially, my goal was to not be on anxiety medication after I made it through these hormonal changes, it was just a temporary thing. In reality, I have found peace in taking daily anxiety medication. I am still Angie, yet I am able to process this life differently. Yes, I feel emotions. I cry, feel anxious, hurt, yet I don’t have the energy or desire to sweat the small things. The things that used to keep me awake at night, don’t get an ounce of my time. We all have a story and personal opinions regarding medication. As moms, as women, we strive to find balance in a demanding world. You are not alone. We are all wired differently-God made us that way. Sometimes, we just need a little help from a pill…