I had an evaluation appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday. Though stable (for the most part), I have a history with mental illness that has landed me in the hospital twice. That said, even after my recovery, I still see a psychiatrist every three months and take a low-dose prescription to help me from swinging too far to the manic side of life.
Going into the appointment, I knew I was slipping into the arms of anxiety since my last appointment. I knew being honest with her about how I was feeling would help me stay on top of it before it escalated into something terrible. I am in no mood to spiral out of control, and given my past I know that with help from my doctor and a myriad of other treatment methods that work for me, I can pull myself together. I can win.
But I had to talk to her first. And by talking to her, it meant admitting there is a problem.
I hate it when I have to do that.
Before my doctor saw me, a nurse took my vitals. I had lost seven lbs. Seeing the number on the scale, was the tangible proof I needed to help me fully surrender to that last ounce of denial. The weight loss on top of my disrupted sleep lately was enough for me to expose myself to her, a trusted friend, my husband, and my mother-in-law.
And you know what?
Within 24 hours, I feel a little better. Exhausted, but hopeful.
My doctor and I agreed on a plan. She adjusted my medication, gave me a “band-aid” script to help me get a few good night’s sleep, and scheduled a follow-up appointment in two weeks.
She did her job.
As I left, I knew I would follow her orders and I knew I would be ok, but I had to do my part. I had to adjust some of the non-drug “medications” that I rely on as part of my treatment plan.
I called a trusted friend. Within 20 minutes I was sitting teary-eyed and bleary-eyed and feeling very edgy at her kitchen table. She sat with me. She served me apples and cheese and cookies and two cups of hot tea. I talked. I shared. I let go. I calmed down.
My friend came through.
Next, I talked to my husband. I gave him the facts. Because I have learned, it’s better to start with the facts with him first. He responded with concern. We agreed to talk more later.
My husband and I talked last night.
This morning, I opened up to my mother-in-law who is staying with us for a few weeks over the holidays. Talking to her was hard because I didn’t want to come across as weak. She knew I’d been hospitalized in the past, but never knew the details, other than my problems occurred in the postpartum period of giving birth. For the first time, I told her about my anxiety. She listened.
My mother-in-law asked me let to her help more with the kids.
I am not totally in the clear, but as anxious as I still feel, I also feel powerful knowing that I am doing all the right things. Things that in the past, I didn’t have the know-how to pursue or couldn’t put my “I got this” attitude aside long enough to admit I needed help.
This afternoon, I will pick-up my medication. The rest of the week I will focus on sleep. I will do yoga and try to squeeze in a run or two. I will accept concern from my friend, I will talk to my husband, I will let my mother-in-law help. I will go back to the doctor in two weeks.
Unlike in the past, when things got really bad, I will win this time.
As I deal with this bout of anxiety, I can’t help acknowledge that I have been stable for over two years now and lately I have felt like I could just close the book on my past struggles (anxiety, bipolar, and postpartum psychosis). The truth is, and I am learning, I can’t.
What I can do is be proactive. Anyone out there who reads this and can resonate with my story, please know that you can, too.
When you think about it, that’s pretty amazing — to know how to help yourself. Finding the right doctor, the right pills, the right support people, and work/hobbies that keep you alive is the best medicine in the world.
I hope I can write more about this topic when I am feeling better.