Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Anxiety

6 months ago I was on the phone with my twin sister....crying and crying. It was on that phone call that I finally decided I needed to do something about my mental state. Something was different about me.  I wasn't myself.  I couldn't get through a full day without screaming at my kids, feeling overwhelmed, or thinking that I can't handle being a mother.  I had admitted to my husband weeks before that I needed help, and as any kind husband would, he kept telling me not to stress over little things and that I was doing too much, committing to too many things, and worrying about stuff when I didn't need to worry.  Honestly I don't think he understood what was going on inside my head...and there was no way he could understand!

Throughout the conversation that October day with my sister, I decided I was going to call my doctor to get help.  But I was so embarrassed and fearful to make the phone call.  I was certain that once the receptionist answered the phone, I wouldn't even be able to get the words out to make an appointment without bursting into tears.

Let me take you back to 6 months prior to that and what was going on in my simple ol' life.....

We had decided to move.  We loved our home that we had built 10 years prior right when we were getting married.  It was a wonderful neighborhood with sidewalks and a walking path and a park nearby.  It was close to grocery stores and shops and the school.  We had spent a lot of money finishing the basement to a beautiful play area for the kids and another TV room for us all.  We put on a patio and then an expansion of the patio.  But we had been wanting some countertops, bigger cabinets, a larger yard, an office, a 4th bedroom to name a few.  And mortgage rates were at an all-time low, so we made the big decision.  We wanted to move close by and stay within 10 miles or so of this home. We prayed and prayed about our decision and wanted to be sure it was what God had for us.

We spent a month getting the house ready to sell.  I took it room-by-room, little-by-little for two hours a day when Mya was in half-day kindergarten and Mason was taking a nap.  I purged and cleaned and cleared and staged.  Looking back I hardly remember those days except that it was very exhausting and a little exciting to see the house transformed into a photo-perfect realtor ad!  Jim painted away the red kitchen and it was all finally ready.

We got an offer the very first day it was on the market, a Thursday, and by Sunday we were making an offer on the house we are in today!

So then the stress of moving began.  Jim and I had a Jamaican vacation scheduled amongst all the chaos to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, so that was a much needed break away from it all!  When we returned home, I packed up the entire house myself.  We decided to hire movers only for the large furniture.  Box by box, I loaded up all the memories, all our belongings, each and every item that we had.  And on Mya's last day of kindergarten, the moving truck was loaded and we moved.  5 miles away.  The kids spent the night at my brother and sister-in-law's house the first night while we moved everything in. The next day, my parents brought them to the new house....

The look on Mya's face was heartbreaking as she walked inside.  She was devastated to move.  She didn't want to leave her friends from the old neighborhood.  All summer, she cried and asked over and over "Why did we move?"  Even after she met wonderful new neighbors and kids her age, and even with a swimming pool next door and a larger bedroom for herself, Mya begged to go back to the old neighborhood.  I couldn't even drive over to it.  I was full of guilt and sadness that we left the perfect little house for our own sake, not to consider the feelings of our daughter.  (These were the crazy thoughts going on in my head....I totally believe that decisions like moving should be made by parents and not based on the feelings of a 6 year old!!!!)

Also during this entire time frame was the most difficult time in the life of 2 year-old Mason.  The terrible twos was an understatement for what was happening with this strong-willed, energetic boy.  He was sucking all the life out of me, demanding all my time and energy, consuming every bit of me. I cried and cried when Jim got home each night that I couldn't handle him.  We were trying to potty train him during all of this, on top of getting him settled into his new bedroom and adjusting to the new house. Some days I just prayed over and over "Help me, Lord!!!!"  It was all I could say.  My faith is strong, and I knew the Lord would help me.

Fast forward through the start of a new school for Mya, Mason starting preschool, and my favorite season: FALL!!  I convinced Jim to buy a trampoline for the backyard, hoping it would help Mason burn some energy and give him something to do.  Actually it did that plus a lot more for us!  All the neighbor kids flocked to our house, and we got to meet so many kids and make new friends.  I tried to take walks with Mason while Mya was at school, as it was the only exercise I was getting.  But Mason would climb out of the wagon, and once again I was left frustrated and crying.  I would try to go to the mall with him and he wouldn't stay in his stroller.  Each and every time I tried to get out of the house, it was more stress and anxiety than it was fun.  I stopped taking Mason to the grocery store with me.  It always ended with me in the van crying at the end of the shopping trip because he threw a fit in the store for whatever dumb reason.

So back to the phone call with my sister.  She and I both have the same OB/GYN who we love dearly.  I knew that I would feel very comfortable seeing her with my issue of anxiety versus my family doctor.  When I hung up the phone that day with my sis, I decided I would email my doctor's office to make an appointment since I was sure I would start crying if I tried to call.  I am so thankful that they make appointments via email!  So my appointment was scheduled and I think it was a week or so that I got in to see her.

During my visit with my doctor, I explained all my anxiety, the crying, the move, the stress, and any other questions she had for me.  She concluded that I basically had Post Traumatic Stress due to the move and she knew that I was not myself.  She prescribed Lexapro for me, advised me to see a counselor and get on a regular exercise regimen.  I scheduled a follow up appointment for two months later.  I had always thought that turning to medication for anxiety or depression meant that you didn't trust God to help you.  I finally realized that God was helping me.  I continued to trust Him the same and His love for me never fails. Had it not been for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I may have not even considered asking for help and getting well. My prayers were deeper, more personal, and I listened more than talked.

After about a week on the Lexapro, I noticed a difference.  The crying spells were gone.  In fact, I don't think I could cry if I wanted to.  It was like that part of my emotions was just gone.  In the following weeks and months, I found myself remaining calm when the kids would fight, when Mason would throw tantrums, and when I would normally have gotten irritated or frustrated over certain things.  I won't go into all the details, but the meds definitely helped.  We also purchased an elliptical machine that I was using 3-4 times per week, and I had been meeting up with friends almost weekly so I could just talk and let out my feelings.  I was back to my old self.

Now it's 6 months later.  I just met with my doctor and decided to start weaning myself off the meds slowly. It hasn't been smooth sailing.  The side effects scare me a little, as I feel very, very anxious.   Mason is much better now in his threes....he's potty-trained, going to preschool, is less impulsive, and is more independent. Mya and I are both involved with Girl Scouts, so we have lots of fun activities going on.  She has many new friends, but I still take her back to the old neighborhood once in a while to play.  I'm not sad to drive past the old house anymore.  In fact, it's fun to see how the new owners have made it their own.  We love our new house and with Spring here, the weather is warming up and the kids are coming back around to jump on the trampoline!

Motherhood brings so much joy, but it is an extremely difficult job and a giant responsibility.  Thankfully we are not given more than we can handle, even though I would have sworn that I was!!!  If even one person reads this and is comforted or encouraged or can relate, then it was worth sharing. Hang in there, Moms!  Love and hugs to all!!!


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