June 28, 2014 by theresiugoes
I don’t often go to the doctor knowing what the diagnosis will be.
Usually I go because when I google my symptoms, the internet tells me I have a tumour – and then I get to sigh a big relief when the doctor says “it’s just a sinus infection”. It’s like winning the lottery, only better.
But this time I went to see the doctor knowing what she’d conclude. I told her my symptoms, anyway, and didn’t assume that I was right.
“It sounds to me like you have post-natal depression.”
And then I cried, because even though I already knew, it was a relief to hear it said by someone else. To know that I wasn’t imagining it, that it was really happening to me.
I first had an inkling last winter.
For weeks at a time, I would sit on the couch and not move, except to buy groceries and cook dinner.
I knew I needed to get out and enjoy the fresh air, but I felt safer at home, comforted in these four walls.
I isolated myself – it helped that I’d moved away – and spent a lot of time talking to my head.
I cried all the time. I cried when I should’ve felt happy, I cried when I should’ve felt sad.
I was tired. Having a baby that wakes continually through the night is exhausting, and I was taking long naps to compensate.
I constantly felt overwhelmed, like I was being chased by people and deadlines.
I didn’t feel like I had any more of myself to give. Conversations were always painful, exhausting, boring.
I couldn’t sleep when I tried. I’d sit in bed for hours, trying to avoid the thoughts of dread that consumed me. I’d end up distracting myself with the glow of my iPhone.
I’d read about Lea Michele and Khloe Kardashian and cry about their losses. And then I’d look up recipes and remember that I was fat, or read parenting blogs and realise that I was a failure as a mum and throw my phone as far away as I could.
this anxiety, this fear of failure, consumed me.
Every time I got behind the wheel of the car, I’d visualise a terrible accident, blood everywhere, people dead.
Every time I walked down stairs carrying my daughter, I’d imagine tumbling down the stairs and crushing her.
Everything was contagious, everything was unsafe, everything had the potential to be fatal.
Anxiety would flood me in social settings.
I could be sitting in a cafe with a friend, and suddenly my heart would start racing, my palms sweating. Sometimes I could push through it. My desire to hide this feeling, this fear, overrided the fear itself.
Other times I’d excuse myself, head straight to the bathroom, shut the door behind me and gasp for air.
Tears on your face can be healing, but they are also revealing. I carried makeup everywhere, so I could hide the evidence.
As I read over my words, I’ve noticed it’s all written in past tense, like I’ve already overcome.
I wrote this blog almost two months ago, after I found myself locked in a bathroom at college, struggling to catch my breath, trying to keep quiet so no one would hear.
That weekend, at a friend’s party, I found myself hiding in the guest room, trying to block out the noise, trying to calm my heart. I stayed there for over an hour, staring at the patterns on the bed, and thinking “again? Again?? This is my life now???”
I’ve come along way in six weeks. Medication helped, and so did a counsellor. I have a bit more clarity now, and the anxiety attacks are stretching further apart. But recovery is a journey I’m going to take for a while now. Will you walk it with me?