How I Became a Morning Person and Other Changes in My Life
Meds. The answer is meds. The end.
Just kidding, sort of. If you read my last post you know I've struggled for a long time with anxiety and depression. Some of it was situational but most of it is a result of the brain I was dealt. Yay! Thankfully, with the help of a wonderful counselor and psychiatrist I'm on a great track now. I've seen so many changes in myself that it's somewhat shocking to realize what parts of me were the result of my anxiety and what's different now that it's under control. So I wanted to share with you some of these things because I know many of you are where I was just a few months ago -- fighting to get out of bed in the mornings, wishing you could just stop the irrational thoughts just for one day, hoping that today will be the day you can just relax and enjoy life.
How life has changed:
1. I'm now a morning person. I'm writing this at 7:00 am on my front porch, curled up in a hoodie and blanket, enjoying the cool West Texas breeze and the sounds of birds as they wake and start their day, too. And I've been up since 5:45. WHAT?! Even as I read this I annoy myself. I have never understood you morning people. I literally thought there must be something wrong with you to enjoy waking up before the sun let alone do anything productive during that time. Seriously, I got up and started *looking* for something to do. This is the opposite of my life before meds. Before my anxiety (and associated depression) was "fixed" I would drag myself out of bed to get the kids off to school, fix myself my morning Spark, then sit and watch whatever was on my DVR. [Disclaimer: I don't work outside the home.] I'd do this all while procrastinating living life. Projects, deadlines, obligations, basic responsibilities -- they all got ignored because it felt like climbing a mountain to do any of it. If you've never experienced this you just won't understand. But if you have, right now you're yelling YES!!! at your phone or computer. Hi. I get you.
2. Speaking of procrastination -- I DON'T ANYMORE! For my closest friends and family reading this, pick yourself up off the floor and continue. Can you even believe it?! My entire life I have been a procrastinator. I thought that was just who I was, something annoying about my personality, the way I was born. And it was the way I was born. But it was a symptom of my anxiety. My counselor told me this truth months before I started new meds and I believed her then but didn't have much confidence I could change that trait myself. I did have some plans in place which helped but it still felt like a huge mountain hike when executing those plans. Now I'm on it. Totally doing life when I need to do it, and actively pursuing new activities and obligations with excitement and hope. Who knew? (Answer: My counselor and psychiatrist. Duh.)
3. I'm not "sick" anymore. Again, my entire life I've been "sick." Not actually sick with specific ailments like my friends with auto-immune diseases or certain infections. I mean, there's my blood clotting thing and my sleep apnea thing and the cancer thing, but none of those things caused me to feel sick. I just felt sick almost everyday -- fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc. I would often cancel plans with friends, forgo parties, shirk obligations, and more because I just didn't feel well. That's all gone now! Praise tha Lort! But really, praise the Lord! Before my meds were changed I'd start my day around 10 am and be exhausted by 2 pm. That's a really short window, folks. Anxiety depletes mind, body, and spirit. I spent so much energy just getting out of bed in the mornings and focusing my body and mind on basic daily tasks that by the time I had to do something real like play with my kids or go to an event I just couldn't do it. Now I'm up for it. I'm up for yoga. I'm up for lunch with new friends. I'm up for bike rides. I'm up for a last-minute party. My friends and family are confused reading this because you're thinking that's always how I've lived. True. Sometimes I could follow through with such things. But it would exhaust me to the point of needing two days to recover. That's no exaggeration either. Now I don't need to recover. And I'm not climbing that mountain to execute either. I'm on steady, level ground the entire time.
4. I'm a better wife and mother. I think I was pretty decent before but it's hard to live up to your potential when you're trying to manage anxiety and depression 24/7. It was torture to play with my kids. And they're awesome kids. Unless it was something I really enjoyed and was at just the right time they didn't get my attention. Even typing that makes my heart hurt. My kids have heard "no" literally hundreds of times after asking me to do something with them. Don't get me wrong, I don't think parents need to be their children's playmate every time asked, but I do think we've missed out on some memory building and bonding because I just needed to be left alone. Now I'm up for it. No, not for Pokemon or Minecraft or the other insufferable things kids are into these days, but I'm up for swimming, painting, crafting, backyard campouts (we did this one just last night), and family movie time. We have a long list of summer activities and I'm up for all of them! I don't work outside the home and the last few summers I scheduled so many camps and activities to keep the kids busy outside the house. This summer we're all about Camp Mom. And though we're just on day two I think I can handle it. As for being a better wife, bless BHE's kind, gentle heart. God chose the right person for me to marry because I don't know many others who would put up with me. I'm like the duck floating along looking peaceful but whose legs are going nuts under the surface. Those legs are my brain. Or how my brain used to be. To cope I would shut myself away whenever possible. I would avoid work functions, social things, even parties with our closest friends. I just couldn't slow my brain down enough to deal with it. He was nothing but patient, loving, and understanding through all of it. I am truly blessed by him.
5. I'm much better organized now. I'd always been somewhat organized out of necessity but I'd slack off with it and procrastinate and then things would pile up. You should see me now! Even the kids are super annoyed by my calendars, schedules, and lists. At least they act like they are. Well, little SJ actually loves it. Tween-angst-monster CB waged a massive protest in which he slept all night in the bathroom (we gave zero cares). Now even he's getting on board with the schedule. He's my mini (poor buddy) so he also struggles with anxiety. He flourishes with structure but he thinks it's the enemy. He just doesn't see it though everyone else does. CB is the sweetest, most affectionate kid but if you poke the beast you better watch out! And other people exerting control over his schedule definitely pokes the beast.
Lest this sound like medication has made my life perfect let's not forget side effects, because every medication and treatment regimen has them. I'll talk about those in my next post. If the things I've written here ring true for you and you're ready to get some help with anxiety and/or depression shoot me a message. I can recommend locally or even do some research and help you find resources where you are. And please, if you know of friends or family who are struggling with these things -- or breast cancer -- share my blog. I firmly believe that I need to use my experiences for good in order for them to have meaning. I've seen God use them in my life so I want to be on board with that.