Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Shitty Thing About Anxiety

Although I keep hoping things will turn around, the truth is I’m in really rough shape.  Last night I had yet another graphic miscarriage dream.  I wake up feeling completely exhausted even when I don’t have nightmares.  My body hurts, my head hurts, my heart even hurts.  The one good thing has been that my IBS has been pretty under control.  I’ve gotten used to having a relatively normal digestive experience.  And I can say being regular rocks.  So it really sucks that the one little silver lining has started to unravel. 

We are getting a sizable amount of snow for the next two days, so I did the responsible thing and got myself to the grocery store yesterday to stock up.   The store is one of my safe places.  I really don’t need to worry about having an upset stomach while I’m there.  Which is why I sort of ignored the warning signs, including severe stomach cramps, on the car ride in.  I hit the deli counter first, and while waiting for my number to be called I realized there was going to be a situation.  So I dry swallowed a couple of those handy Imodium AD pills I never leave home without.  About 20 minutes later I was half way through the shop and I had to stash the cart, grab the kid, and hightail it to the bathroom.  All I can say is that T was a champ.  Well that and it sucks to deal with a toddler while having digestive issues in a crowded public bathroom.

The rest of the trip proceeded without incident.  But my anxiety level was so high that I threw up as soon as I got home.  I think a big part of why I’m so pukey with this pregnancy is my heightened anxiety.  On the days that I manage to relax a little I tend not to hork.  Don’t get me wrong, the unrelenting nausea is there, I am just somehow able to ride it out without tossing my cookies.  Have any of you had the pleasure of regularly puking around a toddler?  It’s kind of hilarious.  T has climbed up my back while I threw up.  He’s tried to get past me and into the incense matches and ashtray we have in the corner.   Throwing up while using your arm as a barricade against an insistent kid is not terribly effective.  I smartened up once and managed to put up the gate at the bottom of the stairs before I puked in the half bath two steps up on the landing.  T hung on the gate laughing hysterically at me and then he started making puking noises himself.  That was the first time in my life I laughed and puked simultaneously.  He now makes the puking noises every time he hears me do it. 

When I was pregnant with T I would have died if someone told me I’d have to deal with throwing up while caring for a toddler.  And the first few times were really awful.  But I chose to be a stay at home mom.  He doesn’t magically go away because I’m dealing with morning sickness.  And you really can get used to anything.  Privacy is a beautiful thing, and when I puke while he is napping or when Z is around I actually appreciate it (who knew you could appreciate anything about puking?)  But the rest of the time I just don’t care anymore.  It doesn’t seem to bug him, so why should I let it bother me?

After the puking I calmed down a bit.  Got to talk to one of my favorite people on the phone.  T and I had fun reading books.  And then my stomach cramped in the way that I knew meant I had about 30 seconds to get to the bathroom.  I scooped him up and ran upstairs.  Poor T pounded on the bathroom door while wailing.  I couldn’t blame him, it was disgusting.  And frankly, I couldn’t believe it.  Imoduim is pretty powerful stuff.  I understand when regular people take it their systems can be plugged up for days.  I was about 3 hours on from taking it and my anxiety was so potent it was like I hadn’t taken it at all.  Anxiety is an amazing thing.  It is one of the most powerful forces in my life.  It shames me, it makes me feel terrible about myself, it provides me with a valid excuse to rarely leave the house. 

I’m sure you are ready for me to stop it with the gross out stories and cut to the chase.  So here we go:  The shrink who Z and I credit with saving my life (not hyperbole, I was really that bad) used to ask me what the payoff was for my anxiety.  He wanted to know what I got out of it when I couldn’t get out of the house to go to work, or when my stomach cramped up in public.  I was so offended that anyone could possibly think I was getting anything positive out of my illness.  Especially because I had no control over the symptoms.  But over time I started to get it.  My body wouldn’t rebel if there wasn’t a reason for it.  As miserable as I was, as trapped as I felt, even if I had no conscious control over it there was a payoff.  The IBS confirmed to me that I was useless, unlovable, disgusting, a freak.  It also provided a perfectly valid excuse for me to never have to leave the house.  That doesn’t mean that the IBS and agoraphobic tendencies weren’t real, or that I had any control over them.  But the subconscious is terribly clever. It confirms your deepest fears and provides you with a way to indulge them.  So as I battle the anxiety this time around I’m armed with knowledge I didn’t have before.  I’m in much better shape now compared to that terrible time.  Of course that is only the beginning.  The IBS is real.  Knowing it is caused by my subconscious doesn’t make it imaginary.  I know why it is there, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to fight it.  Guess that is why I’m still in therapy. 

That little smirk on his face?  Trouble, trouble, trouble.  Dude is testing every boundary we set for him.  

 Like climbing on the coffee table...


  1. Really interesting post, thanks. Also, unrelated to your post, but related to your photos: T looks significantly different now than he did at Christmas. One month and his face is older! Holy crap!

  2. My mom's favorite puking story is that when she was pregnant with my brother and I was 3, at first I was really really sweet to her all the time. I would rub her back when she was barfing all over the place and stuff. But after a couple of weeks I started saying, "are you going to puke AGAIN, Mom??"