Category Archives: Anxiety and Depression

behind the scenes

Behind the Scenes of My Depression and Anxiety

Luckily, I’m one of those people who has no problem giving others a behind the scenes look at my life with depression and anxiety. In fact, I get a kick out of revealing how it all started. There’s no doubt that I had it in my genes long before, but this one life-changing event triggered it. My grandmother, father, and all three of my brothers live/lived with it as well. We all handled it differently. Some with unconventional means and some with the proper channels of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Either way, we’ve all survived. Grandma lived a long, happy life and we have fond memories of her sense of humor, generosity, love, and yummy midnight snacks.

For me, it started in the fall of 1986. I was just starting my second year of college at age 19. Sure, I considered myself an adult, but I was soon to find out that I was still just a teenager with a strong connection to my parents. I was in the “cool” dorm bunking with two friends. Over the summer, I had started dating a Marine, in a long-distance relationship. (Bad idea.) I was ready for an amazing year.

My parents called with the bombshell.

They were moving from my childhood home in Virginia (90 miles from college) to Newport Beach, California (about 3000 miles). And here’s the kicker…they assumed I would just move with them. In hindsight, maybe I should have. But, no. I was a mature young adult. I was in college. I had friends. I was deciding on my major. I was having a great time. And, of course, I had a boyfriend. After many arguments, they let me stay. And they bought me a car.

And that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Almost immediately, the depression and anxiety set in. I found myself crying all the time and a lot of mornings, unable to get out of bed. And guess who I called. My parents. Rightfully so, they had one answer…move to California. I still wouldn’t do it. I was determined to ride this out on my own. So, I did that. With lots of drinking and partying. Somehow I managed to get to class and dance rehearsals. Don’t really know how. I’m sure my dance program was a good outlet for the way I was feeling.

And what the heck was I feeling? Sad? Angry? Abandoned? Caught off guard? Treated unfairly? To this day, I really don’t know that I can give a label to what I was feeling. It was a physical and emotional attack that came without warning. I believe it was living inside me and had a damn good reason to surface.

The story continues with moves, transfers, break-ups, tons of phone calls, a couple visits to California, psychiatrists, moving in with my sister, more drinking, more partying, more bad relationships, a failed marriage, etc, etc, etc, until the day I had a full-blown panic attack and finally, finally, took this thing seriously and started to turn my life around.

That was in 2001. Fourteen years. I suffered. Just because I was stubborn.

The one saving grace that surely helped me through all of this was the communication with my parents. Yes, we disagreed. Yes, I made decisions that made them cringe. Yes, they wanted grab me up and take me under their care. But they let me find my own way without judgment and with an open line of communication.


An article from Palmer Lake Recovery, Parents Guide: How To Help Your Teen Cope With Mental Health Issues, is an excellent resource. It discusses statistics, warning signs, causes, how to help, and useful resources.

Some ideas from the article that my parents handled well:

“A good starting point for you as a parent is to have a conversation with your teen in a constructive way that is non-confrontational and is focused on offering them the love and support that they may well need more than ever.”

“Your teen needs the sort of parental support that lets them know they are not facing their struggles alone and that you are there to support them through this difficult time. It is equally important that parents also have a support network they can call upon.”

behind the scenes

 

 

sometimes

Sometimes You Just Have To Press Pause

 Sometimes You Just Have To Press Pause

I cried because my daughter ate my breakfast. Then I cried when she yelled at me for ruining her picture. And again, I cried for something equally ridiculous. Sure, I knew my period was coming and that always makes me a bit weepy. But this was different. This felt way too familiar. The fear and hopelessness was settling in and I knew we had a problem. Hiding a panic attack from a four-year-old is impossible. So, I called my husband and he came home.

While I waited, sitting on the stairs, crying, I quickly started to cancel everything I had on my calendar for the next few days, all via text. There was no talking to anyone. And when you tell people you’ve had a panic attack, they don’t question you. And you don’t really care if they do. It happened and all you can think about is crawling into bed and shutting the world out. So, that’s what I did.

Of course, when the dust settles, it’s important to think about what brought this about. I know my triggers and some of them were definitely the culprits this time. I had overwhelmed myself with work. My marriage was a wreck. My daughter was sucking the life out of me. I felt like a horrible mother and wife. Your usual stuff.

Except for one thing. Something unusual had happened and I didn’t know until it was too late that it could have ever been a trigger.

In October of last year, I started the process of writing a book. I’m working with a publisher and editor. It is a collaborative effort with a small group of yoga friends and mentors who played a huge part in my journey toward motherhood. They taught me how to manifest my dream of becoming a mother, even at the ripe old age of forty-four. My first draft is due on April first and the release date is November first. The working title is Kula Talk.

Sounds great, right? It has been. What a treat it is to look back over the last ten years of my life and see how far I’ve come and the amazing things I’ve accomplished. When I remember who I was then and see who I am now…mother, wife, writer, artist…the transformation is amazing.

But, what I didn’t realize in doing research into my own past was that I would be reliving it. I’ve read through old journal entries, found old books I read, looked through old pictures, and struggled to remember intimate details, many of which are painful. My path to motherhood was not an easy one and although it all turned out beautifully, the way I got there was physically, emotionally, and mentally draining.

Psychologists talk about theAnniversary Effect’, which, according to Psychology Today, is defined as a unique set of unsettling feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience. Now, the actual calendar date of my panic attack holds no significance that I’m aware of, but I strongly feel that the dredging up of past experiences for my book played a large part in my feelings of fear, hopelessness, and anxiety. I felt like I was there again and I was scared. Not a terribly ‘happy’ anniversary.

It’s really no wonder. I’ve been reliving bad relationships, fear of never being a mother, fights with my husband, the pain of fertility shots, pre-natal and postpartum depression, and a few other struggles to finish the long list. I’ve never been one to hold my feelings in and the evidence surrounds me in books, journals, pictures and letters.

Needless to say, I have pressed pause on my book for now. I tried to take a look at it a few days after my incident, but only felt the sadness rising again. The words looked disjointed, the story seemed incongruent. I know that it’s not and it certainly has the strength and merit deserving of a quality book, but to my eyes and heart right now, it doesn’t feel right. And that’s okay. For now.

I know I’ve got a story to tell and I will tell it. It is much too important. And I feel sure that it will touch others in a way that will make my struggle worth it. I’ll be back on track very soon.

sometimes
I wrote this several years back in response to a therapist who told me that I don’t have to identify myself by anxiety and depression. So, I took it a bit further and got really pissed at it.

Pressing pause, working on identity, and dealing with unsettling feelings and memories are all things I wish my brother would do to recover from alcoholism and his Co-occurring  Disorders, anxiety and depression. Many times over the years, we have tried to help him through this problem, but we can’t. He needs professional help.  And until he finally realizes that, nothing will change.