basket case.

Anxiety sneaks up on me. I know it’s always there somewhere. But it lunges at me randomly, unpredictably. It grows into this huge fireball. It rolls around inside me, hurting my heart, making my stomach burn, tensing every muscle, rushing to my head to push sobs and waves of tears from my eyes until I’m dehydrated.

I don’t understand why this happens to me. I don’t understand why my breathing becomes so erratic that unconsciousness feels imminent. I don’t understand why I can’t be fixed.

I have been seeing a nurse who specializes in mental health for just over a year. It’s not talk therapy. [But maybe I need that?] I see her for medication management. I know some people think anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds are bad. They turn you into a zombie with no feelings at all. You become a robot. None if this has ever been true for me.

I have been taking medication for over a year. [And this last year isn’t the first time for me + meds, but I won’t get into my history right now – it is a bit involved.] Clearly, the medication is not making me a zombie or anything resembling one since I still have anxiety attacks… and I still have periods of unexplainable, weepy, extreme sadness. I think the attacks are less frequent. And the extreme depressive periods seem shorter. But they are not gone. I don’t think they will ever be gone. And sometimes that’s too much for me to handle.

I’m going to be like this forever.

I need to explain this to my nurse. I visit her once each month (next appointment is this Tuesday). She asks me how I’m doing and I say okay or all right or something along those lines. And I think I’m lying. Yes, sometimes I feel okay. But sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t, I really don’t. And I haven’t really been telling her that because I don’t know how.

The way I feel… what she needs to know… I can’t find the words. The lack-of-job/money situation is scaring the hell out of me, but I can’t fix it. I can’t find a job… I can barely look. Just typing those words is making me sob uncontrollably right this very minute. How can I do anything about my unemployment if I slip into a panic attack every time I think about it? I can’t find a solution.

I don’t think there is a solution.

I need to explain that some days I just want to stay in bed. Forever. Sad and hopeless and knowing my only escape from all of it is sleep. How can she believe any of that when I manage to go to every appointment? How do I explain that most days, I can’t bear to be around people (outside of the 3 I live with). Most days, I hate to leave the house. I go out when I must – appointments, pick up kids from school, buy groceries for my family – and that’s it. I don’t go anywhere else. I don’t walk out my door if I don’t have to. If the phone rings or the doorbell dings, I sit, frozen in silence and wait for whomever it is to go away.

I have to explain that I don’t have any sort of support in my life. I don’t have any friends. Yes, there are people who love me and want me to be happy, but they don’t understand what goes on in my head. And I don’t expect them to. And I don’t want to burden the people who love me. But, God, it makes me feel lonely no matter who is with me… J, our kids, mom, sisters, anyone… yet no one.

Even when we’re together, I’m still alone.

When she suggests therapy [and she very well may], I have to tell her that I’ve been in therapy before and it has never done jack shit for me. I feel desperate to talk to someone who will understand and maybe even help. But I don’t think that’s possible. And the whole money/unemployment thing – I cannot afford a copayment for every visit to a therapist. Once a month with my med nurse is already more than I wish I was dishing out since I have zero income.

I need to explain that even though I love my family and my life isn’t a horror show, I am not happy. I’ve had moments in my life where I felt happiness. But I don’t think I’ve ever been happy. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what that feels like. Except for the fictional version of it I create in my writing.

I should tell her that I could be doing tons of things with my time since I’m not working. We have a bunch of DIY home projects that I could be working on. I need to weed out the clothes that no longer fit from my kids’ closets. I need to sort through the crap in the attic to see what we can get rid of. I could have been doing these things (and many more) all along… ever since the day I got laid off. But I haven’t done anything. I have no motivation. I have no desire… to do much of anything. Most of the time, I think I just don’t care.

I have to explain that even though I know I’m a good mom, even though I think I have talent in a few areas, even though J loves me… despite all of that, I don’t love me. I have never loved me. I don’t know how. I hate so many parts of my life. I hate the decisions I made that got me here. I hate that I’m so weak that I cannot stop feeling this way. I hate that genetics may mean that one or both of my children may feel like this at some point in their lives. That’s my fault. It’s on me. And it rips me apart.

And I hate that I have no idea how to explain any of this to my nurse at my 15-minute appointment on Tuesday. I hate that when she asks how I’m doing, I’m just going to say ‘I’m all right’ like I always do and that’ll be the end of it.

I even kind of hate that I’m going to publish this post. 


About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Italy, but she would settle for a non-oceanfront home in Italy, too. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
This entry was posted in anxiety, depression, family, parenting, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to basket case.

  1. Debby Thompson says:

    Well I think it’s an incredibly brave post and maybe your nurse might benefit from reading it. My partner suffers anxiety and depression and I can’t even pretend to know what it feels like. I can just be there and try and support him when attacks hit him. Honestly, I think this post is amazing. Much love

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mescalime says:

    I think it’s kind of normal not to tell your nurse what you’re going through. She will send you to a therapist, a thing you don’t want anyway.
    Just write, write everything you hate about you, write about all the things you find annoying. Write a honest letter to yourself and read it everyday. See how you feel after a week. It’s an idea…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess I just feel like if my nurse doesn’t know everything, how can she know if she’s treating everything, you know? Like, I wouldn’t go to a doctor with a migraine and say I’m fine… I’d say my head hurt. Thank you for your thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mescalime says:

        True, but sometimes you are so numb you can’t talk about it. It’s obvious you’re not fine since you return for more meds. I seriously believe we are our own doctors, because sometimes the only people we can be real to are our own selves. That’s why I suggested you the letter. ..
        All the best and take care!


  3. izabolinha says:

    Brave Girl! You are not alone! And I totally understand the “not worrying/bothering our families/friends , but please next Tuesday say No I have not been well , better but not well at all. Do it for your kids. You have 2 whole days to think about it , write a story : a 50 or 100 word story to present your case and make the most of your first 5min of consultation (just a suggestion ok ? )
    Too long a comment I m sorry . Lots of Turtle Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for taking the time to respond and no comment is ever too long! I appreciate that you had thoughts for me – you can post comments as long as you want!

      I feel like what you said is exactly what I need to do — figure out some sort of shortened version of what’s going on. I think the problem is that I can’t figure out how to do that. I started this post thinking it could be something like that — a little bit to explain how I’ve really been feeling so I could tell my nurse — but it turned into this huge long thing that I’m afraid just sounds like I’m whining.


  4. Thank you for sharing. So much of your post sounds so familiar to me, though I’ve been fortunate to escape the paralyzing part. I’ve learned doing even little things helps me feel better, even if it’s only getting a load of laundry done or washing dishes. It’s something I accomplished that I know needs to be done. Just try to cross one thing off the list each day, no matter how small.

    I’ve also learned I need to exercise. Even a twenty-minute walk helps, and recently I’ve realized I need to be outside for a bit, even now as winter starts to encroach. There’s just something about the fresh air and sunshine that helps.

    Sending warm thoughts your way!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your thoughts. You know, when I first lost my job, I had a couple of months before the kids were out of school for the summer. My sleeping schedule wasn’t the mess it is now, and I started going for a walk every day. I felt better then, but I think it was mostly because J and I had already decided that I would take the summer off (at least) because it didn’t make sense at the time to spend the $ for the kids summer camp.

      My sleep hours lately are 3 or 4 am until 10 or 11 am – and that’s on a good night. Some nights it’s more like 4 am – 8 am, and that’s not enough… But it’s okay. I have coffee.

      I don’t doubt that the fresh air and exercise helped. Once my kids were out of school and we were in the midst of summer humidity, the walks became less frequent until finally, they were gone completely. And then summer ended and I was supposed to start seriously looking for a job and I had a mental breakdown. I even had severe chest pain and thought I was having a heart attack. I saw 4 doctors, none of whom found anything wrong with me. I’m now certain it was anxiety, and this was about the time I started seeing the nurse I see now… just over a year ago.

      I’m not sure why, even though I know exercising will most likely help, I still can’t seem to do it. My level of motivation is at rock bottom. It’s 2:20 Sunday afternoon and I haven’t showered or even changed my clothes yet… still wearing what I slept in. And when I finally do shower, I’ll probably just put on new clothes for sleeping because I won’t get out of the house so why should I bother wearing “real pants”?

      God, I sound pathetic. But I do so appreciate your suggestions and kindness.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. wwwpalfitness says:

    Reblogged this on wwwpalfitness.


  6. This is beautiful, Sandra, and I’m so sorry that you’re struggling so much. I hope that you can find it in you – and I believe you can, or you wouldn’t have written this – to open up a bit more to your nurse on your next visit. As you said, how can she know exactly what sort of help you need if she doesn’t know how deeply you’re struggling? This was a brave and important first step…and we believe in you and cherish you. Keep writing…it helps…I think…. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. wwwpalfitness says:

    You sound like you are in a similar situation to me as far as work and depression. It is a horrible thing and I think it getting colder makes it worse as you could enjoy the weather when it is nicer outside. I hope this award is a step in the right direction. You have lots of friends here.:) You have been nominated for an award.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Joana Salazar says:

    Please be strong and it’s good that you let this feelings out by writing it’s a good release. And I think you have to tell a person like your nurse or someone close to you about your feelings, I think it will make you feel better when someone listen personally and really understands you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: EPICALLY AWESOME AWARD | The Great Journey

  10. Pingback: time to accept it. | what sandra thinks

  11. Mrs Fever says:

    Stephanie’s lovejuice brought me here. (Which is not nearly as sexy as it sounds.)

    So now that I’m not a *total* stranger to you, I have a recommendation:

    You don’t even have to leave the house. Or your bed, for that matter. Because, INTERWEBS.

    As for the nurse visits: I have some experience with this, both personally and professionally, so I am just going to share some thoughts (NOT advice!) and you may do whatever you damn well please with the following.

    When your meds nurse is asking how you are, she is more interested in your symptoms and side effects and how they are affecting your functionality (or lack thereof) than in hearing “Fine” or “Okay.” So if you are noticing that you are feeling more anxious at specific times of day, or if you are having other issues (dietary, physiological, etc) that may be a cause/effect of the meds you use, it is your responsibility to say that. She can’t read your mind, and those touch-base appointments are for maintenance, not in-depth psych exploration.

    Not that your anxiety isn’t a valid concern. It is. But is it being impacted positively by your current medication regiment? If not, speak up. They are looking for “better” or “worse” (than usual) type conversational indicators, and the goal is to get you to a place where you feel stable. If you are quite decidedly *not* stable, it’s on you to make that clear.

    Now, then. You say you don’t want therapy.

    Well… What do you want?

    Or, rather: What are you open to?

    Counseling is actually a very different format than therapy. Would you be comfortable (or at least feel less overwhelmed) if you laid out one struggle at a time (i.e., “I get angry with my kids/spouse/self when __________ happens”) and had someone who could narrow down with/for you a few viable options for dealing/coping/not killing anyone? That’s kind of what counseling is like. Problem? Here’s three solutions. Pick one!

    What about a life coach? Completely different concept, but perhaps applicable, given your job situation.

    Or maybe you need kinetics. A karate class?Yoga?

    Things to consider. (Or not.)

    Seeing someone as part of your treatment plan doesn’t (have to) mean “therapy” – do (or don’t) whatever works FOR YOU.

    And if you feel like maybe your nurse needs to grok your stay-in-bed-ness on a deeper level, and you have a rapport with her that supports that kind of trust, maybe consider emailing her with a few snippets (dated, for reference) of the things you’ve written here (your “sads”) so she can take those things into account when she’s reviewing your meds. That’s a deeply personal decision though, and I would just caution you that anything you send in written format becomes a permanent part of your medical record. So be 1,000% SURE before you take that step.

    And, news flash:
    (Because, smiles. 😀 )


    • Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate you visiting…

      What I want is to stop having these episodes where I feel like my life is hopeless. I want to be able to do the things I have to do — even the ones I don’t want to do — without having a giant panic attack and becoming paralyzed, completely unable to do anything.

      I thought what I did with the nurse today _was_ speaking up. I told her I was having more anxiety, not leaving the house at all if I could help it. I told her the episodes of crying for pretty much any reason at all (or no reason) have started to happen more often again. I thought that _was_ telling her my symptoms and functionality issues.

      Was I not dramatic enough? I mean, I’m not an actress. I just did my best to be honest instead of pretending I was fine. I can’t control when I freak out. In fact, it tends to be at night at least 75% of the time, maybe more. She is not going to see me at 11pm. But anyway, I was hoping she would offer something. She made sure I had enough medication (the current ones). But there was no discussion of anything further. And I became paralyzed again and couldn’t say anything more… but I had already told her the symptoms and the effects they were having on me/my functioning. I don’t know what else I could have done.

      And then I was pulling out of the parking lot and all I could think was… “Wow, that was a failure. Nothing has changed. I guess she thinks there’s nothing else that can be done for me. There really is no hope for me.”

      All of the things people suggest I might try… they all end up in the same pile with my unemployment/job search. I have a panic attack when I try to deal with it. I don’t know where to start, I can’t make any calls, and I am just an anxious, crying, useless mess.

      I am open to anything that might help me. I just don’t want therapy like I’ve had before — the kind where someone just sits there and nods while I talk for 45 minutes. I’ve spent several stretches of many months doing that and it was all useless. But once I was in it, I was afraid to stop. Of course, I don’t have an income now, so I can’t pay for anything, even if I knew what might help. I spend less than $30/month on anything that’s not a bill or a medical copayment, some months less (and what I do spend it on is, like, milk and stuff like that). When the savings runs out, we are screwed. I have to avoid touching that.

      So yeah, I’m open to anything. I’d try anything. But it would have to be free. And nothing is free…


      • Mrs Fever says:

        I read your post that linked back to this one (i.e., when you told your nurse what you were feeling), and yes, you are right, you spoke up.

        I haven’t been with you through the series of appointments that led to your most recent one, so I don’t know how red-flag-ish your conversation with her today was, or could have/would have been. I don’t know how out-of-the-norm your expressed range of emotions is for you, for your particular diagnoses. I don’t know your meds list, or their inter/counteractivity, and I don’t know how often they’ve been changed or tweaked. I *do* know that sometimes, unless you question out loud, “Are these meds/doses even working?”, or state aloud thoughts about hurting yourself or others, *some* medical providers don’t/won’t/can’t hear what you *are trying to tell them.

        I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying it IS. Period.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mrs Fever says:

        So WordPress is stupid, and it sent my comment even though I wasn’t finished typing.

        A n y w a y

        I don’t have any easy answers. I can only share my experience.

        As for getting lost in the pile of Too Much To Do – Where do I start?!?…

        You might start by contacting your public health department, since money is a concern. You can ask if they have a community referral program for mental health, or if there is a nurse available with whom you can speak. A new set of ears can be a Good Thing. Usually the phone nurses will ask you what meds you’re on, what your treatment plan is, and can – at the very least – listen to your symptoms where anxiety is concerned and give you information about how your meds may or may not be affecting your body chemistry. And they may be able to refer you to services that are available at little or no cost.

        It’s a place to start, if that’s what you want.

        And if it’s too overwhelming for you to pick up the phone, perhaps your spouse will pick it up for you. 🙂

        No easy answers, I know. And making ANY step can be incredibly difficult. Especially when that step is the FIRST one.

        (And I understand exactly what you mean about the sit-and-listen Brick Wall therapy you mention in your comment. Like anything, though, providing therapy is a skill. Some people are amazingly talented; others suck pig ass.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can only dream that anything about this crap will ever be easy. This is why I write fiction… if I don’t like it and things seem too hard for someone (especially the someone who I connect with as the “me” of the story), I just make it easier. Snap! Just like that.

          We have (the nurse and I) had quite a few conversations about whether or not my med is doing anything for me at all. I am definitely better than I was before it, but honestly, it feels like my body has “gotten used to it” to a certain degree and I’m not feeling the benefit that I felt during the first few months. We increased the dose, but WTF? Do I have a tolerance now? Doesn’t seem like I have lots of options, though. I’ve been on so many different meds, looking for one that did anything for me. Most did nothing (except make me start gaining weight – unacceptable!). One I recently tried adding seemed to help within days… however… it took away sex. Like, I could have it but I barely wanted it… and I couldn’t orgasm. (That’s a 180 for me.) That med was done for me in about a week… as soon as I realized what was happening.

          I’m not going to hurt myself or anyone else. (Though it might seem different if you’re in the car with me at times – no one around here knows how to drive… I swear.) But seriously, I have these downs that feel really down… but it’s never anything like that. Never has been.

          Anyway, thank you again for your thoughts. Honestly, even just reading input is helpful because even if I can’t manage to make a call, I feel less like I’m alone sitting on my black cloud of ‘no-one-understands-me.’

          Liked by 1 person

  12. wheredoesthisend says:

    I know I’m going into the way-back machine…. but I’m glad you posted this.

    Liked by 1 person

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