Discovering Anxiety

Most people wouldn’t think twice about making a call to order pizza. If the website to their favorite pizza place was down, they’d just shrug and pick up the phone.
I haven’t made a call to order pizza in years. What if my brain freezes when they answer and I lose the ability to speak? What if dyslexia kicks in and I give them the wrong delivery address? What if I forget to order my favorite topping, and then — gasp — have to call them back? If a pizza place’s website is down, I’ll order from somewhere else. Sometimes I’ll give up and make a PB&J.
I know those “what-if” questions probably sound ridiculous. Most people wouldn’t think twice about calling for a pizza, and would likely think I’m crazy for having so many concerns about such a mundane task. But that’s my life.
Anxiety is the driving force behind nearly every move I make.
Doctors couldn’t find a medication that would help me for the longest time, despite having been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. On top of that, I’ve struggled with depression for years. In my mid-20s, I learned that a combination of hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome are likely at the root of it, which is why medication never helped. The depression meds finally started working once I was prescribed medication for those other conditions.
But I didn’t realize there was more to the depression until after I had my second child. I would imagine myself dropping my newborn son, or something equally horrific, and I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I would constantly worry about something happening to him or my daughter, and I couldn’t make the thoughts stop.
When I went to my doctor to ask if it could be postpartum depression, he told me what I had been experiencing were anxiety attacks. With yet another change in medication I felt more normal than I had in a long time. As it turns out, a lot of my depression was caused by — or went hand in hand with — anxiety.
All those years my teachers called me shy? That was the social anxiety kicking in.
Medication and therapy have helped control my anxiety tremendously. However, there are still times when I feel like it controls me. I still don’t call pizza places, but I’m not afraid of talking to the cashier at the grocery store (though I do use self-checkout whenever possible). I’m more likely to go to a social gathering now, but not without my emergency anxiety meds. I still tend to be a wallflower. Now that my children are getting to the age that they want to see their friends outside of school, I’m absolutely terrified of having to speak with other parents.
But I’ll figure out a way to do it.
Anxiety does not get to win.

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