Friday, July 20, 2012

A Letter to My Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

It had been a while since I had seen you.  Over 18 months, in fact, since you paid me an unwelcome visit right after Casey was born.  I thought I had bid you good riddance.  But unfortunately, you decided to stop in a few weeks ago.

You came out of nowhere, but that's what you tend to do.  You reared your ugly head on my first day of vacation.  You laughed in my face at the timing.

And oh, you were so familiar.  You started in slow, with some uneasy thoughts.  You got my heart racing.  And then you hit me hard the same way you did last time - you didn't let me go to sleep.

You said some pretty crappy things to me.  Things like, "See what's happening, Shannon?  You're slipping back into a postpartum episode.  This one is going to be worse than last time."  And "You thought you were off your medication?  That you were in the clear?  Ha!"  And "I so am going to ruin your vacation."

Ultimately, you gave me the all familiar mantra - your favorite: "You'll never sleep normally again. In fact, you won't sleep at all.  And the lack of sleep will make you crazy.  And once you are crazy, you will live the rest of your life strapped to a gurney in a mental institution and your children will never know you."

I tried to ignore you, but you were quite insistent.  You made me lose my appetite.  You took away my sense of humor.  You gave me panic attacks.  You invited depression along for the ride too, and it almost accepted.

I had gotten rid of you once, and I set out to do it again.  I called my doctor.  I got back on my meds.  And then, relentless as you are, you started up again.

"Only weak people go on medication.  What is wrong with you?  You shouldn't need medication to go to sleep!  To live a normal life!  You are weak, weak, weak.  And regardless, these pills won't work.  You will never be normal and happy again."

You just love to tell me I'll never be normal and happy again.

I gritted my teeth and took the pills anyway.

And after four days, I started to feel better.  I started to forget about you.  I still heard your voice, but it was fainter.  I told you to screw yourself.  And I enjoyed my vacation.

On Monday, when I got back home, you threatened me again.  You told me that while you may have been dormant for my vacation, you won't give me solace at home.  Not when I have twelve solo hours a day with my two children and meals and bills and 100 degree heat.  No, this is no vacation, you told me.

But then something happened.

I begrudgingly took Braden and Casey to the pool by myself in the 100 degree heat.  They got in the water and started smiling and squealing and laughing.  They called for me to come in with them.  They splashed me.   And I couldn't help it - when I looked at them, when I started splashing them back, I got happy too.  The joy was just too much for you, anxiety.

Really, anxiety, the joke is on you.  

I have a pretty amazing life you know.  I am NOT going to let you ruin it.  I am going to take my pills, no matter what you say.  Because just like high blood pressure or diabetes or any other condition, this is an illness.  You try to tell me otherwise, but I know better.

And guess what, anxiety?  Today?  Today I am HAPPY!  I am calm.  I am serene.  I am kicking your ass today.  So if someday soon you try to tell me that I won't ever be happy or calm or serene again, I'm going to remember today.  And how full of shit you are.

I'm not naive.  I know you may pay me a visit again.  After all, when I think about it, you've been around for a pretty long time.  Through airline flights as a child.  Through law school.  Through countless days at work when you told me that I wasn't good enough, that I didn't research enough, that I wasn't working hard enough.  Through the amazing birth of my second son, you asshole.

But with each visit, the more I am prepared for the next.  I will get you in the end.  I always do.

Good riddance for now,



  1. My first visit from that bitch was my senior year of H.S. Looking, back, the asshole visited me before that, but only briefly; in and out. In H.S., it brought all of it's worldly belongings and moved in for an extended stay. The bitch always comes back uninvited... but finally, I decided to take the pills, too, and that mofo has stayed away for almost 2 years, now. Eff that bitch.

  2. Thanks for your post - I needed to read it today. I just recently started taking meds to deal with anxiety/post-weaning depression/lawyering (it's an amazing combination!) and have struggled with mixed-emtions about taking the meds. Thankfully they are helping. Still, it is nice to know I'm not alone in this!

  3. For those with anxiety -especially with panic-any book/CD by Claire Weekes will teach you what it is about and how to cope. They are the simplest books from the 1960's -the most powerful self help books ever and I've read them all believe me.

  4. If you open your front door and anxiety is standing there, kick it in the nuts, slam that door, and lock it.

  5. This is an incredible post. Recent article on the new healthcare acts coverage stated 50%of the population will suffer a mental episode requiring treatment. You are not alone and this is an incredible post.

  6. I could have written this post myself. You put into words the exact same struggles I have had with anxiety - from the sleep issues to the feeling that you are weak for taking medication. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone. Most of the time I feel like the only person in the world that can't sleep normally. The funny thing is, I am also a lawyer with 2 young kids. I happened to stumble across your blog when I started contemplating quitting to stay at home full time.

  7. Love this post! Thank you!!

  8. Agreed, this is SUCH a great post. I had to share it with some very specific friends and family members. Mental health care has this huge stigma that - like you mentioned - high blood pressure, diabetes or whatever do not have.

    This is something I feel that the Facebook generation is going to have to deal with. It was hard enough keeping up appearances before, but now that there's this pressure to photograph, document, tag, check in and share every little thing about your life - to the minutest detail - and publish it with archives for the world to see - it's becoming impossible.

    It seems like everyone is supposed to have this perfect life and struggling with anxiety, depression, medication, etc. just doesn't fit in that mold. But it should! Everyone and anyone can benefit from therapy/counseling of some sort, so it shouldn't be looked at as anything but beneficial. And taking Abilify/Effexor/Lithium whatever should just be a sign of striving towards health - with no more stigma attached than taking vitamins or a wheat grass shot.

    My 2 cents.


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