By Christina Weigand
Finding a topic to write about for this post is giving me a lot of anxiety. So I decided to return to a post in my journal, written for a seven day workshop earlier in February. Through this post you will learn a little bit about my past. This post is about, you guessed it, some anxiety I experienced about seventeen years ago, when I had a new baby and was at a crossroads in my life with one path leading to my writing career and I'm not sure where the other one went since I didn't travel that path.
It had been almost seventeen years since I had an infant in the house. I was fresh off of being laid off from a job I thought I was meant to have. We had taken my second son to his first year of college while the oldest son was already away at college. My oldest daughter was a sophomore in high school and we were hosting an exchange student from Germany for the year.
See seventeen years. We had none of the accouterments a newborn needed, and everything had changed so much in those seventeen years anyway, so if I had anything left over it probably wouldn't have worked anyway. My older daughter, Katie had a baby shower for me, but I still felt totally unprepared for the impending addition to our family. So I had two teenage girls, one of them a stranger, and two sons in college, and I was pregnant. To top it all off in my eighth month we moved into a new house. Unprepared would have been an understatement.
To say the least, I spent many a sleepless night. I would lay in my bed in our new house, both before and after the birth and thoughts would assault my mind. With every little pain or cry of the new baby, thoughts of dying before my child would grow up haunted my sleep. Was the baby okay, would I live to see the morning? Inky black invaded my mind, blocking the hopes and dreams for this child. Angry, onyx dragons fluttered in my chest, breathing became difficult. Dank, fetid swamps pulled me into their dark depths as I inhaled the brackish waters.
I tossed and turned hoping a change of position would dispel my fears. Alas it was not meant to be. It finally reached a point with a new baby and little sleep overwhelmed me and I went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed with anxiety. What was he talking about, I didn't think I was feeling that anxious. When I told my father he agreed. I got the prescription that the doctor had given me anyway. The medicine helped a little and I was able to get some more sleep.
Over the next few years the symptoms eased and I no longer feared going to sleep. Oh there were some nights when I would have an attack, but overall the medicine helped. Fast forward six years: My husband, youngest daughter and I moved across the country, something that we had not done our entire lives (husband and I were on the verge of turning 50) to a city where we knew no one. My daughter made the transition easily. She was six and in first grade, so just starting to make friends. My husband and I did not have such an easy time transitioning to a new life without the family support network we had before we moved.
One day I was cleaning. I had chest pains and my husband rushed me to the emergency room. Thankfully it was not a heart attack. But it was a resurgence of my anxiety. The doctor changed my medication and for a while it worked along with some other coping skills I had developed. There was one big downside though; the medicine pretty much turned off my emotions. By this time I had started writing. Can you imagine being a writer and not being able to feel any emotions. I talked to the doctor again and we agreed that I should stop taking the medicine.
Since that time I have learned how to recognize when an attack is creeping up and what steps to take to head it off at the pass, before it immobilizes me. My choice for medication these days is prayer, specifically praying to Mary for intercession for my relief. Usually it only takes saying the "Hail Mary" one or two times and my heartbeat slows and my breathing evens out. Sometimes it takes a few more, but it has been a long time since I have had one of those attacks that so haunted me seventeen years ago.