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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just for Ashley

I mainly post to give ideas of what works for me rather than what I'm struggling with. But just for my friend Ashley (no one else should read this post) who posted about being Honest on our blogs late last night, I'm going to tell my struggle with depression and anxiety.

My senior year of high school, I had my first anxiety attack but didn't know what it was but knew it was triggered by the stress of too many responsibilities. During college, I had one or two anxiety attacks, still not knowing what they were. I remember the attacks but not what triggered them. I also had several bouts of depression that were successfully treated with the appropriate meds.

Then in the fall of 2001, I went to the doctor because I felt another depression coming on and he started me on meds again. A few weeks later, I had a major anxiety attack at work. My arms and legs started shaking uncontrollably (I can still remember how this felt). Adam brought me home where I proceeded to veg in front of movies and cross-stitch with some comfort foods - cheese curls, ice cream and chocolate (not mixed).

I went back to my doctor and described how I had felt and what had happened. He decided that instead of being depressed, I was actually having anxiety due to the extreme stress at work . I ended up being off work for a month then came back part-time for another month. I was still on the same project at work but no longer in charge of it. I saw a psychologist to help with stress management and she suggested I might have had a stroke during the attack (remember for later in my story).

One of the things I learned... Depression meds take the serotonin your body naturally produces and helps prolong it. The anxiety med I was on actually helped create serotonin because I wasn't producing enough myself.

As I went back to work, I couldn't multi-task like I used to (one of the reasons I was so successful). And I definitely couldn't handle major projects as being the one in charge. My boss and coworkers who witnessed the attack were all paranoid that I would have another attack and almost tiptoed around me.

This is the real reason I quit working, not because Kaylyn was born. I actually turned in my resignation months before we even heard about a baby coming (he fell through and we found out about Kaylyn came a few weeks after I stopped working). It was time for me to be at home. Work was too much, at least that job. If Kaylyn hadn't come along, I probably would have eventually gone back to a job, more task oriented than responsibility oriented though.

When Kaylyn was 6 months old, I started having tingling sensations in my hands and feet. After many tests and years of research, my doctor and I decided I have peripheral neuropathy. This year, we were watching NCIS and they mentioned that peripheral neuropathy can be a result of a stroke. Remember my earlier note about a stroke. Combine that with the fact that I still can't do multi-tasking very well, maybe I did have a stroke but who knows.

I still have anxiety attacks but can see them coming and work to head them off. I give Adam a head's up and he helps by taking on some additional responsibilities to give me some more down time. We are constantly evaluating what things I am involved in and do I need to be (and do I have a choice).

So Ashley, I may not have panic attacks of fear but I struggle too. Depression and anxiety are a constant battle and are harder to overcome than my natural tendency to be an introvert (I can be extroverted if I need to be). The Gospel helps but it can also create the stress with all the "responsibilities" and "should do"s we take on as women in the Church. But it is my rock and reminds me of the eternal perspective. Christ suffered all these things for us and with us. That's how I survive.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Thanks, Eden. It's interesting just how many people have this issue in one way or another that we never know about. So many people suffer alone. Now we can suffer together! ;)