Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tuesday on Wednesday Talk: Anxious Alice

One of my lines in the Musical {A, My Name is Alice} I'll be in starting the first week of May states:

A, My name is Alice and I work as an Attorney.
For Applebalm, Bemshick and Cohen.
And do I have anxiety!

No, I'm not an attorney, but do I have anxiety!

My father used to tell me as a little girl that I was just like his mother. I loved my Grandma Humphrey, so it overjoyed me that he compared me to her. Her house was impeccably clean {um... maybe that comes with age?}, her kitchen always looked like it was ready for a magazine shoot and when we'd visit we were greeted with food. I would stay with her some weekends and she'd take me shopping and teach me how to save money. I do see that aspect of her in me now that I'm married and we have budgets!

It's the character of her that my father was really talking about that I didn't understand until I was an adult. She was a worry wort. I remember crying myself to sleep night after night worrying that my dad would die. There were days when I could feel my heart beating so hard in my chest, that I wondered if there was something wrong with me. At one point, I specifically recall asking my Grandma if she could ever feel her heart beating and she'd told me, Yes, in fact I used to be able to stand with my chest against a wall and my body would move because my heart was beating so hard. Of course this lead me to believe I was normal.

Fast forward 20 years and you have a 31 y/o woman who works as a counselor, for women who've been traumatized beyond belief, trying to keep her anxiety under control. I often find myself awake at 2, 3, 4 in the morning trying to get my heart under control so I can sleep. As I pause and realize what I'm telling you, I must say I fear the judgment that some may have of me.

D is wonderful about it, but I know it affects him. I watch him pull away because he doesn't know how to calm me down sometimes. There are nights when he can't sleep because he knows I'm awake, trying to breathe and be calm. I find myself doing jumping jacks to get my normal sinus rhythm to return. The catch to all of this is that I refuse to revert to prescription medicine. It seems there's a stigma with needing a drug to right your biological functioning. Like I'm weak if I have to rely on something to keep my mind at ease; as if I'm flawed. Stupid, huh?

The most shameful part of all of this is I'm a counselor!!! Shouldn't I KNOW how to deal with this? I can hand any client a Rational Thought Log, breathing exercises, a Do's and Don'ts Chart and send them on their merry way. But me? Nope. I can't seem to get it under control.

I apologize that this isn't about marriage. I guess I just need to get this off my chest {literally}. Any thoughts? Any helpful hints? Anyone else in my boat? Please tell me I'm not alone...


Being Brazen said...

I worry too much and used to have kind of "panic/anxiety attacks" (sometimes i still do).
I, like you, have never wanted to take proper medication.

I am working it on it though and I seem to be getting alot better controlling my anxiety lately :)

I think exercise helps me. Also cutting back on sugar and caffeine. I also have to have a calming word or sentence I repeat to myself when i get overly anxious.I also try herbal remedies (herbal teas, herbal tablets that are meant to help you be calmer) Praying helps too :)

If you ever want to discuss it further - feel free to e-mail me:

Anonymous said...

Running helps me, but let's be frank. Alot of times, running is the last thing I want to do when I'm anxiety stricken. I want to sleep, under a blanket, where nobody can see me. So, what do I do? I take a Rx. I'm not ashamed. My boss knows, my family knows, my friends know. It's something that chemically is wrong - nothing with who we are as a person. Seriously, don't be ashamed. There are more people out there than you are aware of - that are on Rx meds for anxiety.

Lindsey said...

Oh girl I can so relate. I worry ALL THE TIME!

rCl said...

I worry ALL the time, my hubby hates it. I get it from my grandmother.
I have started to pray more...

Erin said...

Sure you’re a counselor but you are HUMAN. Its always easier (in my opinion) to be able to help someone calm down when your on the outside looking in...Thats why great counselors where put on this earth (like you). I get super amped up and worried a lot but have no advise yet as to what to do to calm down!

Ms. Salti said...

The fact that you're a counselor and understand how it all works, and yet still refuse to take medication just goes to show how strong the stigma surrounding mental health is.

If I didn't take medication, I wouldn't get out of bed. Ever. I don't like that I have to rely on meds to allow me to function, but I've come to realize that I can't function without them. And I'm in a much better place because of it.

If the breathing, relaxation, and other calming exercises aren't working, you need to explore other options. You don't want to look back in 10 or 20 years and regret not taking control of your life!

Take it from someone who knows!

*sara* said...

I don't have anxiety to the point where I feel I need a prescription, but I definitely have nights when I get into bed and my heart and mind won't stop racing.

What helps me is to talk more to my hubby about the things that I'm worried about or are bothering me and get it all out way before bed. Once I do that, I try not to think of things like that for a few hours before I go to bed.

On the occasion that it sneaks up on me and my heart starts racing, I find that having my hubby hold me REALLY tight and focusing on his breathing helps me calm down.

Serenity said...

I sure know this feeling and it sucks....My blog is filled with my avoidance of medications so I understand your reluctance...You are not alone in this! I am new here and I am loving your blog!

O.M.G. said...

so, if i'm a nurse, i shouldn't have any chronic diseases? and if i am a nurse and i have, say, high cholesterol or diabetes (neither of which i can keep managed by diet or lifestyle alone), should i exclaim..."i'm a nurse! i shouldn't be ill!" "i'm a nurse! why would i want to take a medication!?" um...huh??
that's exactly what i feel when people talk about their mental health and who disregard any medicinal treatment. breaks my heart that people CHOSE to suffer. toss the pride out the window and get some medication might just be glad you did. and you don't HAVE to take medication forever. just like a diabetic that may need some insulin...just when you need it because your body is ill and NEEDS help to normalize. there is NO SHAME in having a "problem"....who doesn't??

The Reality of Happily Ever After said...

Thank you to each of you who took the time to really speak your thoughts about this issue... That's why I posted!

Truth be told, the stigma is strong and it STINKS! I get what each of you have said about it... I'm thinking really hard on that and may do a post about "Meds from a Mental Health Professional's View"

Adventures in Newlywed said...

You're not crazy, and you're not alone. My husband (bless him) tries so hard to calm me down and finally just goes to sleep because he doesn't know what to do. It's so scary, but you are not the only one, so don't be discouraged!

Cocaine Princess said...

You're not alone my dear one. I too have those moments where my heart beats so loud I honestly think it's going to come leaping out of my chest.

Ashley said...

I know I'm late commenting on this but I am trying to catch up on past blog posts tonight.

I just wanted to say that I have major anxiety too. The funny thing is that I get it from my grandmother (who is a major worry wort) too!

Nobody really understands it or how my brain works but the fear of those I love dying just makes me flip out. I have anxiety about other stuff too but that is the biggest one.

Greg tries hard to help but he is the complete opposite of me and is very carefree about that stuff - like whatever happens happens and he doesn't spend much time thinking about it while I spend A TON of time thinking about it.

I've never wanted to take medication or even see anyone to talk about it because I want to be able to handle it on my own but in reality, talking to someone could be a big help.

If you ever want to talk more about it, feel free to email me:

Thanks for posting this and being so honest!