Anxiety: The Elephant on My BlogPosted: November 25, 2012
Here goes a very rambley post:
My brother called me last week to ask why I haven’t been writing here (yes, my family reads this–they’re probably my biggest following. Yay?) Anyway, I decided to tell him the full truth, the truth that I have been slowly letting others know: I have been struggling with anxiety since we moved here in July and it has taken a terrible turn in the last two months. The anxiety makes it difficult to write for two reasons. First, sometimes I can’t write, the my world is too obscured and foggy to clearly write about. Secondly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about the anxiety on here. It’s extremely personal and I’m ashamed of it. Since the anxiety can be all consuming, if I couldn’t write about it then I couldn’t write about anything at all.
To be clear, when I talk about anxiety I don’t mean feeling slightly worried about a specific event or having moments of stress. I’m talking about panic attacks, fixating on a troublesome thought for hours or days, and being unable to interact with others socially. Likewise, signs of depression come and go: extreme tiredness, inability to concentrate, anger, guilt, self-deprecation, etc. (this last week has been a brighter week, which is part of the reason I can write now). Church has become a big trigger of my anxiety: the crowds of people, the noise, the unknown social expectations, and the general feeling that I don’t belong and don’t know how to belong. Sadly, after having panic attacks while trying to leave for church two Sundays in a row, I gave up going to church. I can’t do it right now and I don’t know how long it will be until I’m able to go again–sometimes it feels like I’ll never be able to go (which is probably my broken brain talking, but my brain is still pretty convincing even when it’s broken).
So what does the vicar’s wife do when she quits going to church for over 6 weeks? For me, it certainly makes it harder to go out during the rest of the week for fear of seeing someone from church around town (how do I explain to someone why I haven’t been in church?). There are days I don’t leave the house because of this fear, rendering my home an imprisoning sanctuary. I get angry a lot. Sometimes I’m angry at my husband for dragging me out here, sometimes I’m angry at the synod because I feel like I don’t have a pastor to go to (the pastor here is my husband’s boss), sometimes I’m angry at God for letting me go through this, and most of all, I’m often furious at myself for being unable to cope with what every other seminarian’s wife goes through.
Practically speaking, my husband has been diligently working on getting me help (he wins Husband of the Year Award). I’ve seen a doctor and while she didn’t give an official diagnosis of whatever is ailing me, she did prescribe me an anti-depressant (anti-depressants are commonly prescribed for anxiety problems; it has something to do with anxiety being on the “depression spectrum,” whatever that is. How I feel about taking the anti-depressant is another post for another day). I started seeing a counselor last week to hopefully learn how to cope with the anxiety.
So why write about this? Like I said, it is personal and I’m upset with myself for functioning like this. Why post it on the internet for the world to see? As I mentioned earlier, at this point if I can’t mention the anxiety, then I can’t really write at all–it’s part of my daily life. Secondly, I’ve always used this blog as an outlet and writing gives me the opportunity to clarify how I am feeling, something I very much need at this time. Finally, I try to write about the nitty-gritty details of being a sem. wife, and learning to deal with something like anxiety would certainly fall under the category of “nitty-gritty.” Surely I am not the only seminarian’s/vicar’s/pastor’s wife to struggle with anxiety, right? *crosses fingers*