Monday, August 1, 2011

Hidden Battle

Anxiety. We've all heard about it. It can be mixed with OCD or depression or I'm sure a slew of other things. Defined in the dictionary as being a.) distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune b.) earnest but tense desire; eagerness or c.) a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder. Now I knew I was a little uptight at times, always been a worrier since I can remember, but never really thought much of it. My type A personality is known to anyone who meets me. But the anxiety part goes a little deeper. Thanks to current events like this constant infertility battle for the past 3 years and now the miscarriage, my anxiety has increased ten-fold. I have always thought of anxiety as a disorder that people should be able to control. If they would just calm down or slow down, it would go away. HA! For some, that may be the case, but for others, it's a complete slap in the face. I know that now because I have been experiencing it full blown for about a month. Mostly definition numero uno has caught me by surprise recently. As I have said, always a little uptight, fearful of new or unknown things, but not enough to let it stop me from doing things. Terrified of heights, yet still ride roller coasters kinda thing. Not a fan of crowds, but won't miss a Keith Urban concert when he comes to town. You get the picture.  However, my inability to control my anxiety is making it worse. I like to be in control, but the loss of it drives me even more crazy. Not sure if this affects most women suffering from infertility, but I'm willing to bet it does. Not being able to control the one thing in your life you want to is upsetting to say the least.

This past weekend my husband and I wanted to get a way for a bit. Enjoy a weekend in Pittsburgh to celebrate our 5 years of marriage and to get some furniture at IKEA for our guest room we are redoing to pass the time. Supposed to be fun, maybe a little relaxing and some adventure mixed in. All fine and dandy until my anxiety sneaks up on me and starts swirling thoughts in my head. We both wanted to ride the incline (fun in my mind until I'm on the stupid thing). So we get on to go down first and I'm terrified to move from my seat to see the beautiful view of the three rivers coming together. Whatever, I survived. Did I mention, I had to ride it again to back up to the top where our car was parked? Then I started to sweat. The people in the car with us were very nice and trying to get me to relax by making me laugh. But they were really making fun of me for being scared. In my defense, those things were built in like 1870...that's pretty old to still be operating without any problems or not crashing down to the bottom of the hill even once?! Yes, I survived to do this post and it was nice to say that I've been on it, but terrifying to go through at the time. Your mind starts racing, sweat starts rolling and adrenaline kicks in to overdrive. For me, it causes a feeling of shear panic. I can't tell you what I'm afraid of when it's happening, you just see terror on my face! Of course my husband wants to do the lookout at the top. I couldn't even bring myself to walk to the edge of the platform as I would have done in the past. Not this time. He took the pictures. That wasn't even the worst part as far as my anxiety is concerned. Navigating around downtown Pittsburgh is hard enough, but again, I found myself not in control and it was driving me nuts. I have a good sense of direction, I can get places fairly easily, but for some reason, this time, it really made me nervous. Again, we survived, found our hotel and even had some time to relax before dinner. The cab ride to dinner...nervous. The walk back to the hotel after dinner...nervous. The escalator to get into the Pittsburgh Zoo...REALLY nervous. If you have ever been there, you know what I'm talking about. Yes, it's just like the escalators at the mall, but, HELLO, it's 10x taller and feels a heck of a lot steeper when you're on it!

The incident that broke me was shopping at IKEA. Shopping...I love shopping. I love it so much, I love going out the day after Thanksgiving, even with the crowds. Well, probably not this year. This year I will be in my safe little home. IKEA was a complete madhouse with people. We made the mistake of going on a Saturday afternoon, when everyone in the tri-state area goes. We had never been so we had no idea what to expect. At least we did look online first to see what style of bed we wanted. That helped a lot. It just so happened it was at the top of the escalator too! First display, boom, there it was. Easy. Done. Right? Wrong! We decided that since we drove that far, it would be a good idea to look around to make sure that's exactly what we want. Well, remember how I hate crowds? Much worse crowds of families and screaming children just to remind us we don't have any. AWESOME.  So we fight our way through the crowds, following the arrows and the path set out before us through the showrooms. Just to realize that's the set we wanted all along. We fight our way back to the same display and I break down in tears. I can't catch my breath. I feel like I'm treading water, but sinking slowly and can just barely keep my head above the surface. That's what anxiety does to me. That's what it does to me every time I feel a loss of control now. That's what this miscarriage and infertility struggle has done to me. I have lost control of having a baby, my weight (thanks to the hormones), how my body reacts to the drugs, how the procedure turns out, if the embryos survive the thawing, how many are transferred, how my body will react to the embryos, if the baby will survive....the list goes on. All of those add up to anxiety now spilling over into other aspects of my life. Wherever I feel like I'm not in control and by control I mean I have a good sense of what's going to happen or I have a plan (Type A personality)...wherever that goes wrong or different from what I envisioned, anxiety sets in.

Now, medication to me is not the answer. First, I can't medicate when I'm about to do an FET. So that's out. And for me, I want to control it. I want to get it under control like it was before the miscarriage. Why it's heightened now, we can all see, but I want it to go back to me just being a little anxious and not a lot of people being able to tell/notice/see. I pray every day for a sense of calm that I did have during the process in June. I pray every day for this downward spiral to stop. Again, I've said, I will not be beaten. But this hidden battle that I have been fighting for a month is starting to get the best of me and I wanted to share this because I know I'm not the only one out there. One, I'm not the only person suffering from anxiety and two, I'm not the only infertile woman suffering from anxiety. When you see me, I won't be talking gibberish to myself, rocking myself in the corner. That's not what this is. This is an inside battle over fear. Fear of failing to become a mother again. Fear of not being successful in life the way I wanted to be. Fear of not making enough money to try again or to adopt. Fear of letting myself and my husband down. Fear of gaining too much weight from infertility treatments (which leads to more weight gain from the worry alone). Fear of being useless in life without a child to take care of.  Fear of never having my dreams come true. Fear of having too much anxiety. Fear of what people will think. All of those fears compound in my mind and weigh heavy on my chest and heart. I have days where I barely notice them. Then I have days (usually combined with outside stress) where I can't tread the water anymore and I start to sink below the surface. I pray for better days ahead, that's for sure. Getting this off my chest, will surely help. Starting the process for the FET and feeling like I have control over that will help as well. As long as I feel that I am working toward the end goal, I am okay. It's when I feel like I'm floundering out there without a paddle to go in any direction that I start to lose it. So if you see me and I seem flustered, I'm okay. I really am. Just fighting the inner demons of anxiety one day at a time, the best way I know how, with God, my husband and my friends and family.