Post 10: my anxiety has anxiety

Things have been happening. Don’t believe me? Check the news. Several people in this country employed by the government are currently not receiving a paycheck. This includes the entire United States Coast Guard, a branch of our armed forces military, which happens to be the service for which my husband is an enlisted person.

We are a single-income family, currently without a single income. We’re about to miss our second paycheck and there’s no end in sight to this government shutdown as of day 34. I’m not going to get into the dirty politics behind all of this because I’m trying to keep my mind healthy. Worrying about the events and people I can’t control has been taking the best of me away from my family and it has to end.

How I’m Managing My Worries

Step 1: I said goodbye to Facebook. I limited my access on a very large scale and have found the past three days to be quite refreshing, or at least as much as I can expect them to be right now. It’s a step in the right direction.

Step 2: I’m attempting to manage my anxiety itself. I have anxiety about managing my anxiety and one of the side effects of the medication I take to treat my anxiety is … wait for it … more anxiety! Tell me how to get out of this horrible cyclone of frustration!

I’ve been on Effexor XR for four years now. It’s caused me so much misery (sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, weight gain, more anxiety, etc) and I’ve wanted to come off of it for years now, but I chicken out every time. You see … the side effects of coming off of this medication are worse than the side effects of staying on. The withdrawals are like nothing this prude has ever experienced before in a mind/mood-altering drug. I’ve tried to come off a few times and after four days of intense nausea (so bad I can’t even sit up or open my eyes without getting sick) I’ve cracked and taken a pill. And mind you this is even after I’ve weaned myself to the lowest dose available. I keep trying to find a week when I can block out my calendar and plan to just be sick for days on end. But when my husband drives two hours to work and I’ve got a 4 1/2 year old, having me out of commission helps no one. So I snagged a prescription for scopolamine to help with the nausea and seasick-like feelings I get during the detox of Effexor and hope it helps me function.

Treating anxiety shouldn’t be this terrible. You shouldn’t have to resort to taking a medication that gives you additional symptoms. I’m working hard with an exercise/diet regimen in hopes it will be enough to take the place of the medication completely. Really I just want to feel like myself again … from oh so long ago.

Step 3: I’m writing in my worry journal daily to brain dump everything on my mind that I can’t fully address or control. It helps take the edge off and it feels like once it’s written down I don’t have to carry it around in my head anymore.

Step 4: I’m going to therapy. I’ve been seeing my therapist now for almost a year after I scared myself quite a bit with some really dark thoughts. Thoughts that involved me no longer being needed. I found myself sobbing whenever I took a shower and making folders of passwords and account numbers on my computer for my husband to have on hand, just in case. Something snapped in me and in a moment of clarity through the tears and the fog I realized what was happening and made called a psychologist right then. She got me in the next day.

I’m not sure why I waited so long in my life to add this part of self-care. Although I do find I’m still guarded when talking during our sessions and don’t fully open up, I can talk to her without feeling like I’m weighing down a friend with my burdens, and that counts for a lot. I probably will never not need a therapist, but it helps so much just to recognize that fact.

Step 5: I’m reaching out. While I’m worried that we aren’t getting paid and I have bills piling up and I’m trying to be intentional with every dime we spend, I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable and accept help. We’re used to being on the giving end of these efforts, but our community has done amazing and gracious things to keep furloughed federal workers fed and we’re now finding ourselves on the receiving end. Instead of continuing to say “oh, no, that’s not necessary. We’re fine” I’m opening up more and allowing others to help us.

For one, I’m meeting so many beautiful people this way. People I have much in common with but might not have met otherwise.

Secondly, and to put it frankly, we need the help. For a family that lives paycheck to paycheck on an E-5 salary, missing two paychecks (maybe more) hurts a lot. Sure we can get a loan, but then those will need to be paid back and some of those payments are due before pay will even resume. It’s not a good scenario no matter how you look at it.

I’m trying not to dwell, trying not to let it bury me. We’re keeping our heads above the water and our eyes open wide. This, too, shall pass.

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