Monday, April 7, 2014

My Messy Beautiful: Anxiety and Depression

Almost a year ago, I was standing in Target with my then 2 year old, helping her try on a pair of shoes. Suddenly the terrifying feeling came over me again, I went numb, my heart began racing, and I felt like I was going to pass out, then I proceeded to shiver as I raced through the store to grab the things I had to have. By the time I got to the van and loaded the kids up my hands were shaking and I was crying. I called my husband in tears and told him, " It just happened again, but I had the kids this time, I am so scared". I can't do this anymore. See this had been happening on a more and more frequent basis since I had my first panic attack in the middle of my spa day. Now I had gotten to where I was having panic attacks every time I went to the grocery store, and now with the kids, I was really, really scared. Not only was I scared, but I was very down. I was ashamed. I was confused. What was happening to me?

After the incident at Target, I got an appointment with a doctor. I went in and explained to her what was happening. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. She listened and sympathized, and made me feel that it was okay and that we were going to find out what was going on. She took blood and asked if I wanted her to prescribe anything for the anxiety, I said no. A few days later I found out that my thyroid was completely out of whack and she prescribed some thyroid pills. After a couple of weeks I started to feel better. So much better in fact that I thought I could take a trip to my family reunion with all four kids by myself. The drive was fine and I slept great that night, but by the next night I would be in the middle of the worst panic attack I had ever had.

Thankfully my mom was there to take care of me and she talked me down and kept me okay, but I could not sleep, could not stop shaking, could not stop waking up in a panic every five minutes. It was terrible. After that weekend, I began having trouble sleeping and would be up until 3 am sometimes, having panic attacks. It was very scary. My husband tried to comfort me, but there really wasn't much he could do. One day things got so bad, that I spent the day crying and was so afraid of my state of mind that I called my husband to come home and take care of me and the kids. He asked me to call the doctor and tell her what was happening. He even offered to call for me. He took care of me and really helped me that day. I needed it, badly.

My doctor prescribed Xanax to help with the panic attacks until the thyroid problem had been fully resolved. The Xanax helped tremendously, when I would start to have a panic attack, but it also made me pretty loopy and tired. But I continued to have panic attacks even after my thyroid levels evened out. A few weeks later, Josh's dad passed away three weeks before we were scheduled to be in town for a month. We packed up very quickly and made the long trip to Nashville, and as we drove along I-40 into the Cumberland Plateau,  a relief of being home came over me like nothing I had expected. I knew that we needed to move back, that we had no business living that far away from our families. Through the sadness, it was so good to walk into Josh's parent's door that evening and see our family. We were finally home. Even through his grief at his father's passing, I knew that it was just the same for Josh. He needed to be with his family, we needed to look at photos together, laugh with and at each other like we do.

The kids and I wound up staying in Nashville, while Josh flew back to Richmond for the remainder of July. I came home briefly to see my doctor, and we decided that for now I should be on an anti- depressant, every day. If I had been resistant at first, I was just as relieved now to be taking these meds. It took a while to get used to them, and thankfully my mom helped out with my kids every day. But bit by bit, things began to look up and I started to get better.A few weeks later we all packed up and drove back to Richmond. That was hard, because I was going to have to go be alone again. I was going to have to function again on my own two feet.

And I did function. I got better. Life looked differently. I was happy again. I began to realize that while the thyroid problem may have made me finally recognize that things were off,  that I had actually been pretty depressed for a long time. I think it began after I had my son in 2009. That seems to be the last time I wasn't struggling in a major way with depression. I think that I fought it for so long that I finally just gave in. I wish I had known all along what was happening to me. But I just didn't. Now that I do, my life has changed so much for the better this last year. I have been able to dig deep and resolve many issues within myself that I have never properly dealt with.I let go of things that I had needlessly saddled myself with.Of course, things are not perfect, but things are really good. Things are better than they have ever been and I have learned better ways to deal with stress and sadness. I meditate, I do yoga, I read, and I take care of myself, so I can take better care of my family. I also have learned to accept who I am and embrace it, and reading Momastery and Carry On Warrior has been a huge help to me. My Monkee friends have been a huge blessing to me also. That is why I am choosing now to share my story. I hope that if you can identify with my story that you will not be afraid or too proud to ask for help like I was for way too long. And also, I am here, for anyone who may need to talk or ask questions.

Peace and Love,



  1. Thank you for sharing this! Posting mine some time this week - you aren't alone!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I recently went to the doctor, not for panic attacks, but the feeling of not even being able to be around myself. I haven't filled the prescription yet. We'll see. Thank you for this and I am honored to be a part of this Messy Beautiful project with you and all of the other writers. Love and light.
    Meg Horan

  3. Leslie, I can identify. Having waded through the shame and cast it off, I can honestly say I am grateful for the meds. :) You ARE brave, friend. I hope the ones who need it find this post.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story…been there too, and yes it's true "life looks different" when you're out of it. I'm so glad to have participated in this project to meet women like you. xoxo

  5. Leslie, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have struggled with panic attacks for most of my life, I didn't know what they were until I got to college and they finally got bad enough that I started going to therapy. I most recently had a severe panic attack when I was 6 months pregnant because I had stopped taking the medication due to my pregnancy. I couldn't eat or sleep for days, which is not good for a pregnant woman. I can totally relate and I know first hand about the overwhelming feelings of losing control, of feeling like you are going to have a heart attack, pass out, and throw up all at the same time. I know about the embarrassment you feel as you try to explain to others about what is wrong with you, when you know it sounds completely crazy. But I also know what a relief it is when you find others who also suffer from panic attacks. Carry on Warrior!! You are fabulous!

  6. I think I had my first panic attack when I was pregnant with my 3 year old. It was right after my mom had a scary accident. I really had no idea how bad things were until I couldn't deny it anymore.