Saturday, November 8, 2014

Anxiety, PTSD and PPD Potpourri

I have anxiety. Always have, for as long as I have had a conscious memory about life. I worry about things that most people never even think about. I imagine every possible scenario that could ever play out, even the most extreme, the most unlikely, and then I have to run them all through to try and anticipate what I might do in the event that I find myself in that place for real.

Mind you, like 99% of that stuff never happens except for inside the confines of my skull.

I used to think that it was an asset, back before the anxiety started to become a burden in my world. When I didn't have actual legitimate things to worry about, when the things that I did worry about were limited to the life experiences that I could imagine to be the worst possible (and they weren't even close to the worst possible because life taught me the lesson that I really didn't know what the hell I was thinking back then when I was naive).

In some ways it was an asset, I suppose. My obsession with order and schedules and lists kept my rampant adhd in check. I say adhd, but really I have the inattentive form. There are times that I so do wish that I had the hyperactive component because then I could get more shit done faster. My coping techniques of writing everything down and obsessing about checking things off of all the lists, coupled with my natural intellect, well...they masked everything else that was going on inside my head for a good portion of my life.

I used to joke that I was the world's best multitasker. Because I was. If you wanted something done, you just asked me, and no matter how busy I already was, I'd find a way to do it.

In college, I took 18 units at a time, worked 20 hours a week, volunteered about the same number. I went to the gym religiously 5 times a week, made dinner every night, did my laundry once a week, washed my car on a regular basis and drove to San Diego almost every weekend. I also slept about 3 hours a night, but I could get shit done back then.

Now, it's a victory if I can get a shower.

It's that way, not because I have five kids...it's that way because the anxiety is the least of my problems these days.

The PTSD and PPD are more the issue. The PTSD stays in check most of the time, thanks in part to a year of ass kicking EMDR therapy. I won't lie and say that it's gone because I don't think it ever really goes away. It just becomes a part of who you are now, and if you go through the necessary steps, you learn to live with it instead of being ruled by it. Most days I live with it. For a long time, I was ruled by it.

There are still moments though, triggers that happen. I can still get the wind knocked out of me for sure. I have had some moments since the baby was born where the dread and the panic set in, where the anxieties that are rooted in totally legitimate fears reared their ugly heads and it began to spiral out of control.

The fact that I have post partum depression too on top of everything else isn't helping.

I used to say that I had PPD, as though it was a past tense phenomenon. That it was something that happened back then and was over and done with and no longer a part of my life. I'd suppose that it was, though. I mean, my first battle with PPD happened after my third child was born. It flirted pretty handily with psychosis for a while. It got worse and worse and worse for over a year and I didn't tell anyone.

My only symptom was that I had intrusive thoughts, the most prevalent of which involved me taking my newborn daughter and throwing her down the stairs. It got to the point that I internalized every single input in my world - books, movies, songs, news, all of it, and turned everything in my twisted brain into a way of hurting her. Then a vision would show up, a picture on an endless loop in my head alone, where this thing that I'd absorbed would manifest into a way for me to hurt her.

I never hurt her of course, I just saw myself doing it a million times a day.

I hid it well. I don't remember her first year of life. I've blocked it entirely.

The only way out was that I had to tell my husband what was happening. Once I started to open up, it all went away. It didn't come back the last time, with my fourth baby. I was hoping it would stay away this time too.

It didn't.

I'm not having the intrusive thoughts very often, though they are there from time to time. They aren't as severe or as dominating as they were before. I want to believe that the steps I've taken to temper the beast that is PPD has helped. I had my placenta encapsulated. I'm out of capsules now, but I think they helped. Maybe they helped. It could have absolutely been worse and it wasn't, so I'm just going to assume that they did.

It's not the intrusive thoughts so much that are the problem this time, though. It's all the other things that come along with PPD tossed into a giant bubbling cauldron with the anxiety and the PTSD.

My best therapy has always been this. Writing. If I let the thoughts out of my head, they're less able to torture me.

My other main method of coping has been escapism. Thank you, Netflix. No...really. I'm serious. The baby has reflux and can be a challenge at times. There are days that I literally cannot get anything done. One day this week I think I only made it to the bathroom once. If I was just sitting around here with this tiny inconsolable person screaming at me all day, I'd be in worse shape for sure. Instead, I have kept company with a meth manufacturer and a prison inmate and a midwife and a detective. They've helped me, these imaginary people.

I joke that I have issues, and it's true. The humor, another method of coping. As a general rule, the darker and funnier my sarcasm gets, the worse things are for me on the inside. Humor comes from pain...oh does it ever. But it helps. And I need to keep laughing at myself. So I do.

I have been asked by several people why I do this, why I write about this stuff. Primarily, it's to keep myself sane, I have to admit that. It's purely selfish at its core, because I need to do this for myself. I need to stay upright and to do that, I need to admit what is going on in my head.

It's not just that, though. I write about this because not many people do, even though I have talked to countless women who've been in this place, who are in this place. We need to talk about it so that we won't feel ashamed of where we are. If we need help, we need to first admit there is something wrong, and we need to live in a world where we can do that. Part of that means that we need to know that someone out there understands. Someone else gets it.

I get it.

Do you need to talk? Grab a chair. I'll make some more coffee.

I just won't promise that I've showered. xo

2 comments:

  1. You and I must be cosmic sisters! I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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  2. Your honesty is so refreshing, Kelly. I am sorry the PPD did rear it's ugly head this time around. I, too, try to talk about it as often as I can. I did not have psychosis, but the depression was pretty damned debilitating. I hope LAK's reflux heals quickly -- mine had reflux, too. I know you have wonderful support from Mr. Hive. Make sure he knows how you're doing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and LAK. I hope you both feel better in due time and can get back to enjoying the wonders of your new lives.

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