August 16th, 2008
It may surprise you to know that I’m unmedicated.
I’ve flirted with the idea and the substances before, but it’s something I can’t embrace, for whatever reason. I even hate taking Advil or aspirin. If I have to take an antibiotic, I usually Google its side effects, freak myself out, and then either don’t take it, or bite little pieces of the pill off, wait to see if I die, then eventually pick the whole thing apart, and swallow.
I’m real good at freaking myself out. Most of the time, I worry excessively about sickness. Among my family and friends, my hypochondria is legend. Right now in fact, I’m positive I’m suffering from a deep vein thrombosis in my right leg. I even made a doctor’s appointment, then canceled it because I’m trying to be better. But, the numbness and soreness persists, and now I’m in the stage of, “What if THIS time, I was right?”
And that’s the problem. Talk to me all you want about the likelihood of any of the things I worry about actually happening, and I know the probability is low, but they still do happen to people, and why should I not be one of those people? I cannot think my way out of that one. In my mind, there is no comforting response to that. These things can and do happen to people, so I can’t discount their possibility 100%. And if there’s even the slightest chance something will happen, I will worry that it will happen to me.
My husband often tells me that it must be tiring to be me. I expend so much mental and emotional energy on worrying that it is indeed exhausting. I know it’s draining for him too. What to say to a person like me whose convinced she’s got every disease Web MD indexes? How do you talk your wife down from the ledge AGAIN when she’s begging you to take her to the ER for chest pains? Of course, this isn’t lost on me, but all I can think is, “Maybe THIS time, I am having a heart attack. Maybe THIS time, maybe now, maybe, maybe, maybe.”
This worry (do I HAVE to say anxiety?) disorder is so selfish. I don’t obsess this much over my kids’ ailments. I tell my husband that his chest pains are just a pulled muscle. I assure everyone else who is nervous to fly that they’re going to be just fine. I’m so in my head about what’s wrong with me, me, me that it’s hard to see anyone else. When my mom lay on her death bed and the family crowded around her, trying to comfort her and ease her passing, my dad said to the room about me, “She’s not as worried about her mom dying, as she is that this is going to happen to her someday.” His sucky timing aside, there was some truth in what my dad said.
Actually, I think my dad suffers from this excessive worrying too, and my little brother experiences panic attacks, so I’m sure this is something that’s hereditary and should be medicated, but I don’t wanna. I want to think my way out of it. I thought my way into it, so surely I can find the exit to the maze, right? This is in no way a putdown to those who choose medication (and for many, I’m sure it’s not a choice, but a necessity), but I’ve tried medications, and they haven’t worked out for me. My overthinking breaks through the blood-brain barrier and wherever I go, there I am.
About 12 years ago I tried Prozac. I’d just moved to Los Angeles from Chicago and I felt out of sorts. I took a sinus medication, which I’m sure affected me strangely (could be my worry talking), and after a day of moroseness, I went to see a psychiatrist. Well, after talking to me for 5 minutes, I swear, he prescribed Prozac and that was that. I took it faithfully for about 3 weeks, not really feeling any different, until one night, I woke up at 12AM in a tizzy. Completely enmeshed in the fight or flight response, my adrenalin pulsed. Hallucinations flashed through my brain, and settled on an image of me in the bathroom slitting my wrists. I’d never ever even once given thought to suicide (I’m too much of a hypochondriac), so this picture startled and confused me. For the next two hours, I battled my body and mind, struggling to keep control. Eventually, thank God, the nightmare passed. I called that crappy psychiatrist the next morning, who assured me it couldn’t be the Prozac and then said, “bye.” No follow up, no nothing. I stopped taking the medicine that day and never experienced that demon fugue state again.
Since then, I’ve tried other things. And each time, I stop taking them. I never notice any appreciable difference and so they seemed a waste. Also, what I put myself through each time I take the medication is sucky. The whole worrying about the side effects, the blah, the blar, the this, the that. Just not worth it.
Anyway, I don’t know why I’m writing this today. I worry about who will read this, and so putting it here in public is part of my self-imposed “treatment.” My husband reads this blog, as do friends who I’d really rather not know about my anxiety. On one hand, it’s embarrassing. I work to construct a happy, normal image for the people who know me, and if I lift the curtain, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll scare people off. On the other hand, there is judgment. I do receive advice from well-meaning friends, who in the end, are more irritated with my “disease,” then anything else. And that blows.
Also, I’m crappy at hiding how I feel. I’m quite emotional and moody. (I know some of you are planning a Rock rescue mission right now, my ever-suffering husband MUST be saved!) I can’t write happy happy lovey fakey funny, because it’s not how I feel at the moment. If I were going to post today, it had to be authentic. And there you have the naked truth.
I’m blogging this because in the end, I told myself when I started San Diego Momma, that I’d be me up here in this spot. The good, the bad, the majorly ugly. I’ve had a hard time posting these past few days, because this junk is on my mind, brought on by the fact that my NYC flight is fast approaching, bringing with it my carry-on baggage of fear, anxiety and doom, and I didn’t want to share that because (1) you’ve heard it before; (2) it’s not fun or funny; and (3) it’s so whiny.
So there you have
Will you still be my friends? Tell me true, so I don’t worry so much about it.