I went to the doctor and talked to him about anti-depressants. It went well. He wants me to have blood work done to make sure it’s not something like a thyroid issue or iron deficiency. I don’t have any of the symptoms of thyroid issues (at least according to WebMD and the Mayo Clinic’s website), but it could be an iron deficiency. Which I didn’t even realize iron deficiency could cause depression and anxiety, but apparently it’s possible.
I made the appointment for the blood work, which I was very proud of myself for because usually doing things like that just paralyze me. It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s how I am and it’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. I go in Monday morning and the doctor says he usually gets the results in 24 hours. So maybe by Tuesday or Wednesday we will know if it’s really and truly my brain being a giant jerk or if I just need to take some vitamins. I am feeling a bit excited by the possibility of understanding what’s going on with me, but I’m also pretty scared that it could wind up being something so much worse. Again, I rationally know that’s silly and has more to do with me googling stuff than anything.
I’ve been talking to an online counselor to sort of work my way up to making an actual office appointment with a local counselor. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. We discussed rational emotional behavior therapy and using coping statements, and I don’t want to say I’m more advanced than a certified mental health practitioner, but I might be…at least in terms of understanding myself. I’m trying to stay open minded and remind myself that digital communication is different from face to face communication and it’s probably difficult for her to judge whether I’m using hyperbole or being literal. I love a good metaphor and will use them often, but when I’m talking about my feelings those metaphors are only to illustrate my literalism.
Here is an excerpt from our dialog.
Her: Change the word, terrified, to nervous. “I’m nervous and I can be nervous.” Notice the difference? I’ll be waiting to hear from you. Nervous is okay and can be managed.
Me: My first reaction to your response was ‘It is really freaking hard for me not to be pedantic and say something snide like “I know my feelings and I know my words and I know the difference between terrified and nervous. I use terrified because I am feeling terror.”‘I think I mentioned this before, but I am a writer. I became a writer because I love words and their meanings. I read the dictionary because there are never enough words to fully describe the depth of emotion I often feel.There is a huge difference between nervousness and terror.When I say I am terrified, I mean I am feeling the feeling of being on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Grand Canyon on a windy day with no guard rail and no safety equipment to keep me from falling a mile or more to the bottom.When I say I am nervous I mean I am slightly uncomfortable. To continue the Grand Canyon metaphor…nervous is looking out over the canyon for the first time from 20 feet behind a well-bolted down fence with a 6 foot high guardrail.The difference between terrified and nervous for me is the difference between “I might get a speeding ticket” and “I’m about to have a head on collision.”In my last message I said I was excited, nervous, and terrified.In this context, I am terrified that all of this will have been for nothing. That there is no hope for me and I will be perpetually stuck in this roller coaster for the rest of my life.I am nervous my doctor might have a moment of judgment that is obvious to an intuitive person and that in that moment I will feel uncomfortable being vulnerable, but will ultimately recover.I am excited because I have hope that there is a possibility of finding my way out of the giant, steaming, quicksand pit of shit I have felt like I am in inside my head.
Sounds like you have a great doctor. The thyroid can certainly affect one’s emotional state.
I am going to add a few coping statements. Remember words have tremendous power.
COPING STATEMENTS FOR DEALING WITH ANXIETY ABOUT ANXIETY
- I don’t have to make myself anxious about anything, or put myself down if I stupidly and foolishly do make myself anxious.
- My anxiety is bad, but I m not bad.
- I don’t always have to feel comfortable, and it isn’t awful when I don’t.
- I can bear-and bear with-anxiety: it won’t kill me.
- It is not necessary to be in perfect control of my anxious moments. To demand that I be in control only multiplies my symptoms.
In spite of your terror, you kept your appointment spoke honestly and you survived. It is not HOPELESS.
I feel like this is a canned response.
1. If I am telling myself not to put myself down if “I stupidly and foolishly do make myself anxious” isn’t that putting myself down??? I might be crazy here, but it feels like I would be saying, “You did a stupid and foolish thing making yourself feel anxious.” I don’t put myself down about my anxiety. It happens. I get anxious. I accept that it happens and that part of it is my brain trying to figure out all of the possible outcomes of any situation.
2. Of course my anxiety is bad. I am definitely not bad. I constantly try to be the best person I can possibly be and I feel like most of the time I’m pretty great at being a good person. I love people, I don’t judge, I forgive myself when I do, I recognize I’m an imperfect being and I love myself. I just hold myself to incredibly high expectations and when I don’t meet those expectations, I feel guilty.
3. I don’t mind discomfort, I struggle with the anticipation of discomfort and then dissecting the discomfort afterwards. I would rather be hit hard immediately than wait to be hit moderately.
4. Yes, I can bear anxiety. I’ve been bearing it for consistently for 4 years and intermittently for my entire life. I know it won’t kill me. If it could kill me, I would be dead already.
5. This might be something I can work with. I am a control freak, at least when it comes to my own being. I usually have great control over my emotional state–at least publicly. Partly because I refuse to ever be seen as a drama queen and also because I come from a culture where you hide your crazy. Yes, I am aware that is a huge source of my issues. When you bottle it all in and box it all up, shit eventually piles too high and has to find other ways to exit the building and this comes in the form of anxiety, panic, depression.
Despite what inspirational internet memes might tell me, I know I may not always be able to control my body and brain’s reaction to certain situations. It is okay to feel what I feel in the moment. This means letting go of the fear that other people might notice, might judge, might try to coddle me in the midst of obvious anxiety or panic and the best thing I can do is be honest with them and myself in the moment, and know it will pass.
I did keep my appointment; I even went to an earlier one. Once I had committed to the appointment, I had to go. Being called in earlier was actually a relief since I could just go and get things done and over with. Again, the anticipation is the hardest part for me. It gives me too much time to think.
I am not hopeless in my anxiety or in dealing with my anxiety. I am hopeless in my depression when I feel overwhelmed by the problems in the world I can see solutions for that are too seemingly insurmountable to overcome.
Maybe I should try that face to face therapy sooner rather than later. I feel bad being so incredibly nit-picky about words and phrases, but I really want this to work and I know how my brain works. I also know that even the people who know me the best sometimes have a difficult time understanding me when I talk in depth about my emotional state.