The Face of Anxiety: Part II
The following post is a continuation of The Face of Anxiety posted previously.
Step one on the road to recovery from anxiety was to begin talking to someone about it. Luckily, I was already seeing a fantastic mental health counsellor who I connected with after my mom passed away. This woman was my second saviour. I will forever be indebted to her for listening to me for hours on end.
Step two was to start taking medication. Now, this I struggled deeply with. I saw my mother abuse her meds. I was also afraid I would become addicted. My wise counsellor cast my fears aside and told me that because I was so aware of what could happen that she was sure I would not have a problem.
Those first few days at home were horrid. I remember sitting on the loveseat shaking hour after hour. I would rock back and forth, back and forth, to try to calm myself. I tried to sleep but when I would hear the ancient fridge shut off (and it was very loud) it would frighten me and the hope of rest would flee.
I was struggling to get food down as well. The thought of eating food disgusted me. I was scared that if I ate, I would throw up. And I had a terrible and irrational fear of throwing up (I always have). When my anxiety rears its ugly head, I lose my appetite completely. I had been eating but not regularly and surely, nothing substantial. I began to get nutrients down slowly by drinking nutritional supplement beverages. I also couldn’t watch television, especially shows which featured food. (Dramas and the nightly news were also out as they just made me more anxious.) I tried to drink two of the supplemental beverages a day. It was so difficult to get them down. They did not taste good at all. I never thought in my life that trying to drink something “nutritious” would be so tough. Slowly I worked my way up to chicken noodle soup, the kind with the teeny tiny noodles. It took me about an hour or more to eat that first bowl. But I did.
There was one day during my leave of absence that I remember I couldn’t handle anything anymore. I paced throughout my living room and kitchen areas. I tried to gently rock myself back and forth again. I tried the deep breathing exercises I was learning. Finally, I decided to call my counsellor and she talked me through my attack and irrational thoughts. She had me sweeping the floor and then dusting my house. She was excellent at the art of distraction. It worked wonderfully. I made it through the day.
Of course with being on leave from work I was worried about going out and being seen in public. My employer told me not to worry about it. My counsellor confirmed that getting outside and into the real world would help me get better. More irrational thoughts would flood in though. What if people from work saw me out and about? What if they thought I was faking? Would they think I was doing this for attention? My biggest fear was becoming housebound like my mom.
Not everyone understands mental illness. Heck, I never understood my mom’s anxiety and I resented her for it most of the time when she was alive. Now I knew the hell she had gone through. But I would never be able to tell her how sorry I was for not understanding. I realized it too late.
Eventually, I took that first step, followed by a second. I continued to talk to my counsellor. I took my medication each and every day.
I became stronger. I became me again. A somewhat scarred version but me.
And I began to recognize that girl with the face like mine in the mirror.
Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net & Stuart Miles