I have spent weeks trying to write this post. Weeks. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never get the words to come out right and even now I don’t think they will but I’m going to just go with it and see what happens.
I’m someone who also prides herself on full transparency, especially when it comes to my struggles with anxiety and depression. Go back far enough in my blog history and you can find posts about seeing counselors when things got to a point where I needed an outside sounding board.
But through all of that, I’ve never sought help beyond a couple of appointments with counselors through my current job’s Employee Assistance Program (that said, I am always eternally grateful for EAPs. They’ve helped me through multiple jobs). I’ve also never felt that my mental health issues, whatever they are, felt “bad enough” to warrant calling them by name, let alone seeking professional help.
Things have gotten bad enough.
It really started back in the summer, post hospital. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I suffered from pretty severe depression through the first few months of Anklegate, but after Clotocalypse, things have felt different. Remarkably different. To the point I had to take a blogging break back in the fall.
The best way to describe it is that before, my anxiety came in waves and usually in reaction to things that would make most people anxious. I just got more anxious than most people.
Now, though, it’s all the fucking time. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t take a break. It doesn’t pause. It wakes me up in the middle of the night and keeps me up for hours. Unlike before, I have nothing to be anxious about. My job can be stressful but its normal job levels of stress. My relationship has me happy and healthy. I have a book out and it’s gotten good reviews.
But still, through all of that, I feel anxious and on edge every single minute of every single day. Instead of all of being in peaks or cycles or waves, it’s as if I’ve finally discovered my baseline for the first time.
Which brings me back to Clotocalypse. (Well, it will in a minute. Just go with me.)
When I was in my early 20s I got chronic tension headaches. Several times a week I had this debilitating headaches that had no known trigger that would last for hours at a time. I was broke and had shitty insurance so I stopped going to the doctor before we found a cause, determined to just suck it up.
Shortly after I went on the birth control pill and the headaches magically vanished.
I was on the pill for the next ten years, right up until that fateful day in late July when my immobilization due to injury + road trip + hormones combined into the blood clot causing trifecta. Along with putting me on blood thinner medication, my doctors took me off of the pill.
Since hormonal birth control is no longer an option, I went for the copper IUD back in the fall. With the clot happening end of July / beginning of August, I have now, so to speak, been hormone free for over six months. And in all that time, my anxiety has increased. Or, well, reset itself to normal levels maybe?
If the pill managed to make my headaches disappear for ten years, what else did it hide or mask for all that time? I know this anxiety isn’t new — even back in college I had some of the same behaviors and thought patterns I have now. When I was on the pill, my anxiety did tend to roar the loudest during my week of placebo pills. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
So, a couple of weeks ago I called the Behavioral Health Department at the Cleveland Clinic. They connected me with a social worker who I met last week. (So many phone calls. OMG.) She was super friendly and we went over the usual conversations about what brought me in, my history, etc. She also asked the very important question: Am I okay with medication?
Yes. Yes, wholeheartedly yes. I’ve done what I can to try and cope. My eating psychology coach offered some coping mechanisms which help. Temporarily. Yoga helps. Temporarily. It’s all temporary. It’s not enough. I need a stronger antidote.
Based on our conversation, she recommend a psychiatrist and a therapist. I did talk about how going to those counselors over the years was helpful and even talking to her — a completely impartial third party — was beneficial. But we both seemed to understand that talking wasn’t going to be enough.
I have an appointment with the psychiatrist three weeks from now. The social worker stressed he’s not a pill pusher, but he will prescribe something if necessary and he’s also very particular about what he prescribes so no benzos, which made me more comfortable. (I‘m still waiting for a call back from the therapist, but I was warned she has a very busy schedule.) Thankfully both are here on the west side which means no having to drive downtown to the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic. That is a deal breaker for me and my anxiety.
And, you know what? Instead of feeling anxious or nervous about it, I feel relief. Relief at knowing that this all might fully stop or, at the very least, reach more manageable levels.
Love from the ashes,