anecdotes and reflections on life with depression and anxiety
I've been thinking about Thanksgiving because -- gasp -- it's less than two weeks away. I'm gearing up for the big grocery shop, dreaming of which kinds of wine to buy to go with dinner and already working on some of the goodies I can freeze ahead (make these. Just... do it.)
But it's important to note that amidst all of the festive preparations I'm making to get ready for this holiday and the others soon to follow, I'm still doing the basic things I need to do to take care of myself. I'm still sitting in front of my sun lamp for 30 minutes every morning. I'm still taking my meds. I'm still making time for naps when I need them and walks when I need those, too. Because one thing I'm starting to learn (over years of slow progress), it's that letting those seemingly small things fall to the wayside is a.) the perfect invitation for daily, all-consuming depression to charge back into my life and b.) a way for all of my planning and excitement and preparations to fall apart.
It's mid-October as I walk through the sliding doors at Michael's, a chain craft store near the mall. I'm surprised to see everything I'm looking for -- the fall-themed decorations, adorned with pumpkins and turkeys, and all the rest -- right in front of me. I find Thanksgiving place cards almost immediately and peruse the rest of the seasonal items before walking the aisles, just browsing. (I'm out! On my own! Doing happy seasonal things! This is a victory all by itself.)
Already the Halloween things are relegated to a lonely corner of the store, marked at a steep discount. A huge table sits in the center of the widest aisle, covered with nothing but white, cottony, glittery "snow," as an employee rolls up with a cart overflowing with ornaments, greenery, wreath-making supplies and more.
The holiday season is officially upon us.
So -- where were we? Ativan. Lorazepam. Pills. Right.
An “as-needed,” or PRN, anxiety medication is the newest addition to my pharmaceutical arsenal, and at this point, it isn’t really new at all. I was prescribed the Lorazepam after some intense physical anxiety had cropped up -- unexpectedly -- for the duration of a tortuous, squirmy plane ride, throughout which the only therapeutic advantages I had at my disposal were Dramamine, squeezing my husband’s hand really hard, and stealthily sipping from a nip bottle of flavored vodka I had in my carry-on (I was desperate). I also tried cell phone games and counting backwards from 100.
If you've been following along, you know that I wrote last week about the anxiety I sometimes experience at night. I focused in that post on how the anxiety feels for me physically, but there's still so much more to say. Because when it feels like ants are crawling through my veins or I can't catch my breath no many how many deep breathing techniques I try -- then what?
When the night time anxiety monster rears its ugly, dumb old head, my response can vary. Several months ago I was dealing with it every night, flipping through my coping mechanisms like a deck of cards, hoping to draw the right one. Lately it's less frequent, thank goodness, but there are still nights that go something like this.
The soft glow of my Kindle fades as my eyes drift closed. I force them back open and try again to find my place, determined to stay awake for one more sentence, one more paragraph. (Such is the life of a near-fanatical bedtime reader.) But despite my best efforts, I am soon rolling over, pulling the blankets up around my shoulders and wedging the now-darkened Kindle halfway under my pillow. I sink into a comfortable sleep for five, ten, twenty minutes -- bliss -- and then, suddenly, I am awake again.
oh, hey --
My name is Lauren. I'm thirty-something, and I like to take naps and read good books and watch bad television. I love my husband and I love my cat, and I live with depression and anxiety, which is mostly what you'll read about here.