Two weekends ago I felt lightheaded. I took my blood pressure that Friday and it was normal so I wasn’t sure what was going on. It had finally begun getting warm outside and stopped raining, so maybe it was just the barometric pressure change throwing me off? The next day I didn’t feel any better and eventually called the on-call doctor of my primary care practice. He advised me that as long as my BP was normal I could wait and come in on Monday to get checked. I took my blood pressure about 3x after that call because I couldn’t believe it. I had always had perfect BP and now it was 170/110. A trip to the urgent care, just before they closed, confirmed it.
The entire time I felt lightheaded I began to think the worse. Was it my superventricular tachycardia, which occasionally causes my hearts to go into triple beat, acting up? What if letting myself get out of shape had damanged my heart? What if I had heart disease? I kept worrying. I had the Urgent Care nurses take an EKG, which came back normal. And my BP after that? Dropped to 130/90. I was having a long anxiety attack and my worries regarding my health only made it worse.
My family doctor appointment the following Monday confirmed two things: my anxiety was out of control and I needed to get in shape by eating less salt and walking more, but overall, he wasn’t concerned. I messaged my primary care doctor, who wasn’t in the office that day, and asked if we needed to adjust my anti-depressants. It wasn’t a move I wanted to make but I also didn’t want to live in a cloud wondering about my heart all the time and I don’t want to be on meds to control my BP as well as my depression and anxiety. She agreed that it needed adjusted since we hadn’t adjusted it since I first went back on the meds last year after the miscarriage.
I felt like a failure. Why wasn’t I managing my anxiety? I didn’t even feel that anxious. I felt busy, but nothing was really gnawing at me. I felt like I was letting myself down by not taking care of myself and allowing myself to be on higher doses of medication. I’ve been determined to believe that my antidepressants are for situational depression not anything more. What if it’s clinical depression and anxiety? What if this is a disorder I’ve grown into?
When I told my husband about the possible med change he agreed it may be a smart move to increase my dose. It felt better having his “blessing” but I still felt bad. I still felt my self esteem slipping further down the tubes. But after messaging my sister in law she clued me in on something about medication: when you first start on meds it can help the depression but down the road the anxiety may come out fast and hard and the meds may need adjusted to tackle the anxiety issues. It can be a two part process. And then her husband, my brother, checked in on me and told me that some people have chemical imbalances and need meds to help them be themselves. “Be themselves”.
It cleared the air for me.
A few weeks ago I told my therapist how, for the first time in years, I felt like my anxiety was leaving me. Things I had been scared of, and worried about, were suddenly non-issues or weren’t as major as I once thought they were. I was able to take a motorcycle course again and purchase a motorcycle, something I used to enjoy but became too fearful to continue doing. Now I love it. I have cautionary fear but not debilitating fear. Making decisions no longer felt insurmountable. I felt equipped and solid in my decision making process. I felt clearheaded. I had shared with her that before the miscarriage I felt depression and anxiety but never fully recognized it nor saw how far back in time it went: to the engagement of my now husband; at a time when I was struggling so bitterly for control that I thought he would walk away from me.
I’ve been on the higher dose of anti-depressants for a week and am feeling less emotional and more stable. My BP is still high, for me, but I’m monitoring it for a month and *trying* to eat less salt and be more active. Easier typed than performed. Yet I’m still left wondering-why is my anxiety so high? I can list the things going on in my life that would make it high, and trust me, there are many and they are justifiable, but I can’t say it’s any more or worse than usual. Is this just life at 32?
It’s difficult to accept when you aren’t performing at your best, when you need help, when you are set back. At therapy we agreed to go back to a bi-monthly schedule instead of every 3 weeks considering my current level of anxiety. We went over the same things I struggle with: finding me time, setting boundaries, over-committing, self care. I feel like the best parts of me come out when I put myself into the causes and companies I believe in. It boosts my self confidence unlike many other things do. I feel adequate, enough, valued in being a part of these things. I feel like a success. During self care time I tend to feel guilty, complacent, selfish. When someone invites me to do something, I want to say yes because I enjoy seeing them and spending time with those loved ones, even if it’s to the detriment to my own self care and health.
Learning to say no, or to say “I’m more important” has always been terrible for me. I know there’s a multitude of reasons why I am this way, and I’m just not sure it’s something I’m committed to changing. In my mind I know I want to change this about myself and my patterns, and I should, but at what cost? Who loses because I step back or say no? What doesn’t get done and will that be ok? Will my friends and family understand or will they say “Here goes Brenda again”. I never want to be known as unreliable or unavailable to people. That’s probably the worst things someone could say about me.
My fear of saying no is that my causes and work are who I have become. Without these things, who and what am I? If I say no, and take time for me, what will I find about myself in that silence? Will I like who I am in the quiet moments?