Friday, June 21, 2019

Anxiety and Depression Reared its Ugly Head

Back at the end of March, I had a feeling of nervousness that was causing me to be short of breath and to worry about the slightest things. I was getting ready to fly to Utah to see my older kids and I almost decided not to go because I thought maybe it was a whisper of the spirit not to travel but it felt different than other promptings so I chose to go. It was a great weekend visiting but the shortness of breath turned into chest heaviness then a few days after I got home, it turned into chest pain. I never felt like it was urgent enough to go to the hospital and I tried to make an appointment with my Dr. but he was only available 3 weeks from then so after a few days I chose to go to the urgent care.

Although I have family members who have suffered with
anxiety and depression I never thought it would be me. Does
this look like the face of anxiety or depression? I can't
even count the number of times I faked it until I could get
home and crawl into bed. 
At the urgent care, the Dr. ran a few tests and concluded that I had a UTI (I had no idea). She gave me some antibiotics and a prescription for what she said was an antihistamine that would also help with what she thought was anxiety, that I could take for the next three days.

Trying to use the power of positive thinking, I acted like the medicine was working and tried to go about my life as usual. That lasted all of about three days. I was exhausted both in body and spirit. I went to work each morning, coached my track team after school, then came home and laid on the couch and slept until bedtime. My sleep was fitful all night and getting up each day was difficult. I called in sick several times in April and May and my guilt about it overwhelmed me. Add to that my responsibilities at home, it was easier to do nothing and sleep away the pain. My pain and my despair became increasingly worse and certain situations caused me to sink deeper into my hole. Thank goodness for Ben being able to be home every afternoon, he became mother and father to our kids.

In those two months, I saw the cardiologist, my family doctor and the urgent care more than once. My tests included blood work and x-rays and a physical exam. My family care provider finally prescribed me Xanax. The Dr. told me to take two pills (I don't remember the dosage) each day and after five days, if that wasn't improving my pain, to increase by one pill. After another five days, increase it by another pill, etc. Unfortunately, neither he nor I thought that through very well. I ran out of pills well before the month was over. I finally was feeling some relief but in addition to the pain and excessive sleeping, I cried all the time but mostly in the shower, in my classroom and after everyone was in bed. I called my Dr. to make an appointment and was told I couldn't get in for three more weeks. I cried and cried because I wondered if I'd ever get relief.

I wish this was just a special treat for Mother's Day but
it was a typical day. I rarely even made it through all of
church for about two months
There was a new family practice next door to my cardiologist and I called them to see about becoming a new patient. After explaining my predicament (I may have cried on the phone too), I was able to get an appointment in four days. I decided I could survive four more days.

That's when I met Dr. Crawford at Cornerstone Family Medicine. After showing  him my blood work from my previous appointments, he concluded that everything looked about the way it should for a woman my age (ha ha). He explained to me that the  medication prescribed was only a short term fix for a long term problem. When the brain is in a constant state of go-go-go or worry or stress (even good stress), the body's ability to produce the chemical that calms you down is depleted. Basically, we concluded that I had little to none left. (Refer to my post about what's been going on since the last time I wrote on this blog.)

He prescribed me another medication that is supposed to help raise that level of seratonin that my body has depleted. He said it would help me with the excessive sleeping, the crying and eventually the chest pain. This process would not be an overnight fix, but a slow and steady "adventure" to get me back to normal. He gave me an additional prescription for the Xanax as a way to stop the chest pain caused by anxiety but combining it with the other medicine, I should be able to decrease my need for it gradually. I've gone from five pills a day to one or two.

Additionally, I've tried to be open about it when someone asks. I am finally able to talk about it without crying but I still find myself apologizing for my anxiety attacks. They happen in the weirdest of places but I have more energy, more joy and a lot less sleeping.

While I know medicine might not be the answer for some, it is working for me. I'm grateful for people who have created medicine and doctors who have studied the diseases of our time. But, I also know that I do not like taking medicine. I've researched ways to ease anxiety with exercise, different relaxation techniques and self care (I have a whole post about that later). I've made some goals for the summer that I've started working on. I figure I'll put them here so that I have some accountability. I figure I have about 8 weeks of summer so my goal is to read 8 books, go to the temple 8 times, go tubing 8 times and exercise 6 days a week even if it is just taking my dog for a walk.

I went to the Dr. yesterday for a checkup and prescription refill. We made some adjustments based on my side effects and my goals. He told me he was proud of the changes I was making and the progress I had made. I didn't cry once through the entire appointment! I'd say things are looking up. Thank you for all the texts to check on me, the friends who have asked me how I'm doing and listened to me go on and on. Thanks to everyone who has sacrificed family time to float the river with me too, gotta keep those goals up and that one requires a friend or two that can drive:) My next appointment with my Dr. is in December, my goal is to create some better balance in my life by then so we can hopefully wean off the daily medicine.

If you have read this to the end, thanks for listening.

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