I have mentioned before how much I hate waiting, have I not? And I think I have brushed on the topic of how anxious it makes me. Well, now I would like to share a bit more about that with you. I am a sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (self-diagnosed with the latter). This is not a condition I have dealt with all my life. It comes and goes and usually I have no symptoms. However, the pressure of TTC has caused it to worsen over the past year.
People often chose to dance around the subject of mental illness. And I actually hate to describe what I have as a mental illness. But it is what it is. And it is so very common with approximately 18% of the population suffering from some form of anxiety disorder. Actually, a good handful of my friends are as anxious as I am (I still think we should start a club)! It is nothing to be ashamed of, and is very treatable! Like infertility, there is a stigma around mental illness that needs to be addressed. I hope by sharing my story I can encourage others to get help, because that is the most important thing!
For as long as I can remember I have been a perfectionist (perhaps not in cleaning my room, my parents will attest that it was always a mess) in the areas of school, sports, games, etc. I strived to be the best at everything, and if I was not, or if I was not properly recognized for my talents (take soccer for instance) I would quit so that I would not have that “less than perfection” on my record. Anything less than an ‘A’ in a class angered me. My clothes are all organized by color and categorized by style (short sleeves, organized by color; long sleeves, organized by color; skirts, organized by color; I think you get the picture). I make lists on top of lists on top of lists so that I never forget anything. I often check to make sure the door is locked several times, or that my heater in my office is off (even though I am positive I turned it off and checked it three times already). That may all seem silly to you but to me that is life! Thus I am pretty sure I have OCD.
My OCD feeds my anxiety. I have always felt nervous before taking a test, or performing a gymnastics routine in front of the judges, but that is pretty normal. It was not until my sophomore year in college that I truly began to feel anxious. I blame it all on my Precision Language course. This is a course at OU (in the Scripps College of Journalism) that students dread. I was told before the first day that it was one of the most difficult courses on campus. I psyched myself out before even looking at the syllabus. And all because of a grammar course. I began to feel panicky before exams, which lead to me not being able to eat or sleep for long periods of time. I had also recently broken up with my boyfriend, so that didn’t help either. I was miserable.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and went home for the weekend and visited a doctor who diagnosed me with anxiety disorder. In fact, my cortisol levels were through the roof! I was prescribed Celexa and visited a psychiatrist a couple of times. The psychiatrist kept trying to blame my anxiety on my parents and the pressure they put on me, which was not the case. Needless to say I went to two appointments and then quit. All I wanted was to pass this damn class!
The Celexa really helped. I was back to my old self in about a month. There was a warning sign on the bottle that alcohol could increase the effects of the drug, but being a Bobcat I didn’t let that stop me from going out on the weekends (or weekdays)! I became a lightweight and attribute a lot of confusing mornings and headaches to the mixture. But that was all worth it to finally feel free again. And guess what? I received an ‘A-‘ in the class! So all of that anxiety was for nothing….right?
I stayed on my Celexa throughout the rest of college, because I knew my course load was only going to get larger and the pressure would continue. After graduating I weaned myself off the meds and felt great. It would be another 6 years before the real anxiety hit again.
Cue the summer of 2014. I began a new job (which I love) and we also began trying to conceive. It wasn’t long before I began waking up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep. Eventually I couldn’t sleep at all, because I couldn’t turn off my brain! There were weeks where I would go three full days without sleep, and sometimes I would drink a couple glasses of wine before bed just to knock myself out. What I thought was insomnia for over a month (I tried melatonin, velarian root, lavender, Benadryl – which had the opposite effect – meditation, sleep hygiene, etc. Nothing worked.) before visiting my doctor again and realizing it was the anxiety returned. I went back on my Celexa.
Celexa takes about a month to start feeling the effect of the drug, and in the meantime I suffered my first panic attack triggered by someone close to me revealing they were pregnant. I now knew what my trigger was. Now, every time I find out a new person is pregnant I seem to have an attack. They have gotten fewer and smaller since the Celexa has kicked in, but as you can see TTC is very stressful.
Celexa is a Pregnancy Category C drug, meaning that it could pose a potential risk on a fetus but not enough studies have been done. I have chosen to continue taking my Celexa because the benefit outweighs the risk right now. I am not pregnant and had I not taken the medicine for the past year I would be in really bad shape. I need to be at my healthiest to carry a child, and for me, right now, my healthiest is when I am on my Celexa. I plan to go off of the medication as soon as I see a positive test, although several women have continued taking throughout their pregnancy and had healthy children. I just don’t want to risk that right now.
In addition to the Celexa, I have seen a counselor and tried yoga. Both have helped a bit. What has helped the most is trying to focus on the positives in my life and keeping myself busy. I couldn’t do this without the love and support of my husband, family and friends.
We all fight our own battles, and we should not be ashamed of that. I encourage anyone with anxiety to please get help, you CAN feel better.
3 thoughts on “Anxiously waiting”
I completely understand our battle with OCD and anxiety. It is so hard for other people to understand and I agree that getting help is the best thing that has helped me with my OCD. I also think having others out there who understand is helpful too. Great blog!
Cousin here. This is very inspirational. Ive been taking anxiety medication since after 5th grade. Im sorry you have to go through that but wow your strong and if anyone can do it i know it will be you. All the thoughts and prayers go to you. Love you.
Thanks Brina! And thanks for reading. Your words mean a lot. Miss you & love you! Xoxox