Getting real.

I’m so glad it’s April. March was a rough month and I’m ready to put it behind me.

It all started with a simple doctor’s appointment to try and figure out why I had been feeling light-headed and dizzy for the past few weeks. Then, it was a Friday night at home alone. (Husband was out of town.) I got a notification that my lab results were available on the online patient portal. One of my tests came back abnormal from the lab work the doctor ordered. That was posted along with a note from my doctor: “Your white cell count is just above normal range. If you continue to not feel good (for a week or so), we’ll check it again, but I expect it will resolve to normal.”

Instead of feeling relieved, I did exactly what you shouldn’t do — I started Googling my symptoms and what a slightly high white cell count could mean. The results were frightening.

An hour or so later, as I’m sitting on the couch, I started to feel kind of funny. Then, out of nowhere my heart started beating really hard and really fast and I’m was having trouble breathing. I took my pulse. Normal. Once I was finally positive that I was not having a heart attack, I forced myself to go to sleep. Next morning, I woke up and it happened all over again. So it was back to the doctor for me. Not three minutes into the pre-visit screening and I’m being asked to fill out a pile of mood disorder screening materials.

Fast forward to now. With a diagnosis of both depression and anxiety, I’m having trouble being along. Morning are rough for me. It’s taking me longer and longer to get out of the house and into the office. It’s taking me longer and longer to fall asleep at night. My list of to-dos feel overwhelming and impossible to tackle. I am taking more frequent naps. Worrying about being anxious is making me more anxious. Feeling like a burden to my husband = also making me more anxious. I can’t concentrate on a task at hand for more than a few minutes (case in point: this blog post that I started over a week ago and the guest post I still owe another blogger.) I’m anxious about seeing people or being put into situations where there’s a chance that I might feel uncomfortable. So I’m finding myself (both consciously and unconsciously) avoiding those situations.

And related to that last point is that really what’s been the most challenging for me is that I’m not really sure how I’m going to feel on a given day. My social calendar has been uncharacteristically empty lately and that’s not on accident. While, yes, I’m trying to save money right now, it’s more about having to make a commitment for something in the future. When I’m faced with that, the anxiety immediately takes over.

But I’m taking action. I’m lucky enough to have less severe symptoms than others. I am also lucky enough to have the resources to get help. So I’m seeing a really fantastic therapist. I have emergency medication. (This one was really hard to let myself be OK with.) I’m getting my workouts in. I’m trying to eat well and cut back on caffeine. And I’m living my life. Even though it’s taking me longer to get out the door, the point is that I’m still getting out the door. And I’m starting to realize that a lot of the things I just chalked up as being parts of my personality or the type of work I do (eg. worrying about EVERYTHING or just being a giant ball of stress all of the time) — that actually these are things that I can work through and I don’t have to feel that way.

And now I have a trip to Chicago coming up this weekend and while I’m normally the type who’d rather travel alone — I have to admit, I’m a bit anxious about this one. So this week is all about making a lot of progress and making myself feel very prepared for the trip. I have plenty to keep me busy while I’m there so I’m feeling optimistic about it. Plus, I found this great blog where she talks about how she deals with traveling with anxiety.

I struggled a lot with how to write about this issue and how many details I wanted to share. However, I feel like with each new person I talk to about this topic, they tell me that they have also experienced anxiety of some kind or know someone who has. So I feel like it’s a very relatable and important topic and one that I think there’s a lot of stigma around. (A special note of thanks to Danielle, my super awesome blogging friend who has been really supportive (whether you realize it or not!) and the few friends and family who I’ve confided in.)