I went to visit my doctor today. It has been five years since I visited her for the same symptoms. Today she told me that I am suffering from Moderate Anxiety Disorder. There was never a label attached to it before. Mr. Bear immediately created an acronym of M.A.D. for it, which made me laugh. “I’m MAD as a March hare,” is what I thought.
Great, I am suffering from MADness. I considered these symptoms licked several years back, but with mental health and wellness, I assume there are patterns that we fall in and out of. Evidently, I have fallen back into some patterns. Old habits die hard.
It started again about a year ago. I start preparing my schedule, writing my to-do lists, planning meals or organizing my life or household. All of a sudden, my palms start sweating. My heart rate begins to quicken. My stomach starts turning. My cheeks get flushed. I start to panic. It is really frustrating because something so simple as doing the deep cleaning in the house can set the panic in motion. As I typed that last sentence, I felt the burning shame. How stupid! It is just housework.
For me, however, it isn’t just about the housework. It is about doing EVERYTHING and doing it well ALL THE TIME. It has to be perfect. It is the mounting list of things to do. Is the kiddo’s homework done? Does everyone have clean socks and underwear? What are we having dinner tonight? What will we have tomorrow? Oh shoot! I forgot to respond to that e-mail. Did I turn the gas off on the grill? (Because I forgot to do that once—for two days.) Did the dogs eat? What day is trash day? Did I sign the permission slip? How am I going to fit it all in? There is that appointment on Thursday. Did someone feed the fish?
It is not the end of the world if I do not check every item off my list. I know this. It makes sense to me. I do not understand why it hits me so hard. I do not know why I cannot calm down.
My mind becomes so full of tasks and priorities that I cannot move. If I cannot complete everything with perfection, then is it worth doing it at all? These are all simple tasks, yet sometimes I cannot begin to figure out what to do first and my anxiety takes over. I feel embarrassed about it, which further sends me in a state of panic. There is still such a stigma attached to addressing mental health issues. It takes my breath away thinking about it.
Evidently, I am talking in my sleep at night, attempting to prioritize what needs to be done. Mr. Bear has caught me in the middle of the night saying things like, “Oh! I’ve got to get that done. I’ve got to get my priorities straight,” while I am otherwise, in all appearances, fast asleep. Clearly, I cannot even shut the feelings of anxiety off in my sleep and it is affecting Mr. Bear’s much-needed peaceful sleep.
It began to occur to me a month or two ago that perhaps these feelings are impeding my normal function. I feel paralyzed, fearful and shameful. Often, when these feelings take over, I want to hide and it makes it nearly impossible to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.
Today, I took a step toward fixing these thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed. I faced the doctor and admitted my issues with courage. In all honesty, the mere thought of the doctor’s appointment sent me into somewhat of a panic. I nearly called to cancel the appointment. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of the $25 late cancellation fee.
Awesome. Saved by my cheapness.
The appointment went well and the doctor referred me to a therapist that can hopefully give me some cognitive therapies that can help get me out of those states of panic, naturally—without medication. In the meantime, my appointment is in three weeks and the doctor prescribed something that I can take when these “episodes” come on. I am feeling fear and anxiety even now, after taking the “something” to calm my nerves, nonetheless, I know it is a step in the right direction.
I know I am going to fine, now that I am not pretending that everything is fine. It took everything inside of me to face the doctor and admit that there is a problem. To admit that, YES, I need help.
Have you ever experienced something similar? What did you do that helped you? Have you tried any homeopathic or non-conventional therapies that have worked for you? I would love to hear your feedback.