Let me be the first to admit it — I lost my mind for a little while today. The anxiety I’ve been feeling all week has been weighing heavy on my mind and heart. It has been interfering with my ability to perform my job, a job that I love and enjoy and would hate to lose. The anxiety has been intruding on my sleep, causing me to wake up multiple times a night, tossing and turning and even, on occasion, feeling like I’m suffocating. It’s caused my mind to race with a thousand thoughts a once but prevented me from effectively focusing on any one of them. In short, anxiety has been making life hell this week.
So I was glad I had an appointment scheduled with my psychiatrist today. I wanted to talk to him about the increase in anxiety, the increase in sleep disturbances, and even the possibility (suggested to me over this past weekend by a former psych professor) that I might have Type II Bipolar. We made the decision to increase the dosages of a couple of my medications and to add an additional one to help with mental focus. And I left the office feeling optimistic and hopeful that these changes will start to make a difference quickly.
But I’m also currently without medical insurance, and one of my medication refills that’s critical to maintaining my sanity — Effexor (or rather, its generic, Venlafaxine) — turns out to be not so cheap without insurance to cover the bulk of the cost. I watched in horror as most of the money I’ve been saving away the last four week disappeared just on these medications I need to keep me mentally stable.
And that’s when the fear ripped through me. That knot of anxiety I’ve been living with all week exploded, erupted into uncontrolled anguish as every little worry and concern I’ve worked so hard this year to confront and face down came crashing back down on me like an anvil. I’ve been worried all week about maintaining this contract I’ve landed that I enjoy so much, so the fear that I might lose yet another job because my health is real. Plus, I have a car payment now, and I’d been planning to sock every spare dollar away to pay it off early and quickly. Instead, I got to watch as half the money I’d saved this last month disappeared in about three seconds.
All those feelings that I’ve been dealing with for the last 18 months hit me again. Hard. I felt like a failure. I felt like I can’t do this, that I’m never going to get ahead because every time I start to gain ground, I’m going to get knocked back again. I felt like I’m never going to get my life back, get a chance to really start it again, that I’m going to regress into a state of mind where nothing makes sense and everything is large and overwhelming and terrifying.
I had to take some time for myself.
So I drove to a local park and just sat in my car for an hour or so until I could calm down, slow my thoughts and my racing heart, and remind myself that things could be worse, much worse. This is a setback, yes, but it’s not the end of the world. And I’m still stronger and healthier than I was a year ago. I’m still fighting and clawing for every inch of forward progress I can get. And even if I do get knocked down a peg or two, so what? I pick myself up and start climbing again. There is no way but forward, and the only things behind me are the past and the lessons of life I’ve learned so well recently. There are still things I can do to improve my status and my situation, and I’m smart and clever. I have friends, family, and support. There’s no reason why, together, we can’t figure this thing out.
Yes, my anxiety turned into fear today, but it didn’t stay that way. I wouldn’t allow it. I’ve worked too damn hard to get where I am right now to let a little thing like this defeat me. And on top of all that, I know my God is still in control, still walks by my side, knows all my heartaches and troubles, and will not abandon me even now.
So here I go again, one foot in front of the other. There are things to be done and work to be completed. It’s just going to be a little harder than I expected, and that’s ok.
One day, one step, one breath.