Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Year with Anxiety

While other Catholics were celebrating the Year of Faith, I was struggling through my year with anxiety.  I am finally ready to write about this now, with the support and encouragement from my husband who thinks I need to share my story in order to overcome it.  Plus, he's the only one who really knows what's been going on and he thinks my life would be a little easier if I didn't have to make excuses all the time to cover up what's really happening in my head.

It all began on Black Friday of 2012, which sounds very dramatic, and while it was for me, the events leading up to it were very normal indeed.  We had Phil's brother, his wife, and their 6 kids up visiting for the Thanksgiving break, and we were all having such a fun time.  We decided to go see the Christmas lights at La Salette Shrine, which was our family's tradition, and so we packed up everyone in two vans and started the hour drive around 4:30 pm.  It was getting dark out, and the kids were being even louder than usual (all hyped up from the feasting) and suddenly the car seemed to get very hot.  

I put down the window and turned up the Christmas music playing on the radio to take my mind off of it, but it didn't help.  I started feeling like I couldn't breathe right and had trouble catching my breath.  I told Phil I didn't feel right and he asked what I wanted to do, but I didn't know.  I reclined my seat and tried to focus on slow breathing but my chest was so so tight and I asked Phil to pull over.  

He called his brother and said we were pulling over, and I got out and walked around in the cold air, felt a little better, and we got back in our vans again.  But all the same breathing things started happening again, and I made Phil pull over, saying that I had to go to the bathroom.  At this time, I was feeling very scared that I was having some sort of a heart attack.  I was also really really embarrassed because I kept making Phil's family pull over when we did, and Phil was trying to explain to them what was happening.  Of course, they were very empathetic and patient but I felt like a fool.

I went to the bathroom, and got back in the car.  We were almost at La Salette and about an hour from home, and I didn't know what to do.  The symptoms would not go away, I was on the verge of hyperventilating with a tight chest and feeling very lightheaded and my hands were numb.   At that moment, I saw a sign for a hospital and told Phil to just bring me there.  He called his brother to tell him the plan (again, major embarrassment) and we all pulled into the ER parking lot and I walked in by myself so Phil could figure out what to do with the kids in the car.  

I told the lady at the desk that I couldn't wait in line, and needed to sit down because I was about to pass out.  She was so nice and told me to sit with her while she called for a nurse to come help me.  She asked me what was wrong, and I said "I've never had one before, but I think I'm having a panic attack" which surprised even me because until that second, I didn't know what was happening. 

Phil came in and said that his brother and sister-in-law were going to drive all the kids home and put them to bed.  I was so thankful that they were there to help us out!  But again, you guessed it, ashamed.

At the hospital, things seemed to move in slow motion, and I kept hoping they would just give me something to control my breathing already.  They did all the normal tests and then wheeled me back for an echo-cardiogram to rule out anything with my heart (I have a slight heart murmur).  They took some blood to test for who knows what, and then finally gave me an anti-anxiety medication, Attivan, that kicked in about 20 minutes later and made me feel sleepy and like I could breathe again.  

My heart checked out fine, my blood pressure was up (but duh, I was panicking) and my blood test showed that my thyroid levels were off.  The ER doctor told me to make an appointment with my regular doctor for more thyroid testing, and they sent me home.  Only we didn't have a car, so Phil called a wonderful priest we know that lived in the area and he came and picked us up and drove us home, happily chatting all the way to help set my mind at ease.  

I went to bed that night feeling thankful there was nothing seriously wrong with me, but also wishing I had an answer to why it happened.  Let me tell you, the worst part of a panic attack is the fear of having another one.  It's debilitating.  Our company left the next morning, and I scheduled an appointment with my doctor for the next week. 

I was trying to go back to life as normal, but I soon found out that this stupid panic attack had changed everything for me.  I couldn't get in a car without deep breathing and white knuckling my way to wherever we were going.  I couldn't go out at night.  I couldn't eat too much at once because the feeling of not being able to breathe properly would throw me off the deep end.  I couldn't have any caffeine after my morning cup of coffee, because if my heart started racing I would think I was panicking again.  I couldn't wear pants that were tight at all because that would make me feel like I couldn't breathe right.  Any time I had to go to the bathroom, I would need to rush because I feared I wouldn't get to one in time.  Every time we went to church or a crowded place, I would start to get hot and sweaty and feel trapped.  

I felt like I was going insane.

I prayed for God to take away all of the thoughts that were running through my head and make me back to normal.  I told Him I would rather have a physical disease than a mental one, because nobody can see your mental handicaps and you feel so lonely and ashamed and literally crazy.  I would tell myself to just stop being so dramatic.  There was nothing wrong with me.  Nothing bad or traumatic or terrible had happened in my life to cause this.  I could control this.  Except I couldn't.

I had another panic attack one week after the first one.  We were driving home (at night again) from a friend's house and I started panicking in the car.  It was only a 5 minute drive, but by the time we got home, I had to run upstairs and get a brown paper bag to breathe into because I was hyperventilating.  Phil called my brother, an ER doctor, who said that I just had to try and relax, keep breathing in the bag and say a Rosary to calm me down, and that it would pass.  It did pass after about 10 minutes, and we watched tv until I fell asleep.  

That Monday, I had my doctor's appointment with my really awesome and understanding doctor.  I told him everything that had happened and he ordered more blood work to test my thyroid again as well as some other things.  He really listened to my fears and handed me tissues when I cried, and suggested that I talk to a therapist.  I told him I didn't need to talk to a therapist, that I just needed something to take when I would have a panic attack because they were so very scary.  He prescribed Attivan to take if I had an attack again, and ordered a thyroid ultrasound because he thought my thyroid felt "stiff".

I had the ultrasound and blood work done, and much to my chagrin, everything came back normal.  I had really hoped there would be a reason for the anxiety and had been researching thyroid disorders, and felt I might have one since I had a bunch of the symptoms.  I emailed Grace (because she had thyroid cancer and her husband is an ObGyn resident) to ask for thyroid advice and have her husband read my NFP charts.  I know, I was desperate!  I emailed Jen because she had done the Perfect Health diet and that was a suggestion for someone with thyroid problems.  I felt like I needed to do whatever I could to help me get back to normal, and the only things I knew how to control were diet and exercise.

I began eating smaller meals (to avoid feeling full) and less sugary carbs (like on the Perfect Health Diet) and made sure I was exercising 6 days a week.  When I was having the attacks, my exercise routine had been thrown off due to the holidays, and I thought maybe that was part of the problem.  I was taking my vitamins, and drinking water, and sleeping plenty, and basically just trying to live as healthy as I could.  

And I never had another panic attack.  BUT, I kept having plenty of close calls.  Meaning, I would be somewhere and think I was on the verge of an attack and have to walk away, or go to the bathroom, or go outside, or do something, anything, to take my mind off of it.  It happened at Christmas Eve Mass, it happened at the mall, it happened in meetings at work,  it happened 90% of the time I was in a car (I pulled over quite a bit those first few months!), it happened whenever I was home alone at night, it happened in a restaurant, you get the idea.  I carried a brown paper bag with me in my purse, alongside the Attivan bottle, and always had my phone with me ready to distract me with Netflix or blogs to read when I needed to "escape". So even though I never had to use the anxiety medication because I never had another full-blown attack, but I felt I couldn't keep living like this.   

One night in March, after putting the kids to bed, I broke down to Phil and told him how much I was struggling.  He knew there had been times where I "didn't feel good" - which was code for "I can't breathe right and my chest might explode and I need to get out of here before it gets any worse" - but he didn't know how often they were happening in my head. He urged me to call the doctor again and see what else I could do to stop all of this.  

I called the doctor the next day, and talked to him/cried to him on the phone.  He asked how often I was having these feelings of anxiety, and I told him a few times a week.  I told him we had a big car trip coming up (8 hours to visit Phil's family that April) and that I was really dreading it because I hadn't done any kind of long trip since the first panic attack. He said it sounded like I needed to go on a low dose of anxiety medication, to which I told him all my anxiety (ironic!) about going on a daily medication for the rest of my life.  He understood and even laughed because most of his patients were trying to convince him to prescribe drugs, and I was doing exactly the opposite.  He assured me that it wasn't habit-forming, and I could stop it at any time if I didn't like how it made me feel.  I thanked him and he called in the scrip, and Phil went to pick it up for me. 

When Phil brought it home, I opened up that ridiculously long paper with all the listed possible side effects and promptly decided I wasn't going to take it.  I know.  I drive myself crazy.  I felt better just knowing I had it in the house to take in case I ever wanted to start, but still felt like maybe I could get through all of this without it.  I really really hate going on medication if there's any possible alternative.

Then it was Easter.  We went to Mass that morning (I just want to point out that every activity that involved going somewhere in public still made me uptight) and I struggled through it.  After a Lent of healthy eating, we had binged on sweets the night before (to celebrate the Easter Vigil) and that morning before Mass.  When I got home, I changed and we went to my sister's house for brunch.  

As soon as we walked in the door with all my family there, I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. I took my first Attivan, told my family my stomach didn't feel good, and went upstairs and laid down on my niece's bed.  I prayed and prayed to not have an attack, and eventually the medicine kicked in and I fell asleep.  My kids woke me up saying it was time to leave, and as we were leaving, my mom and sister asked me if I was okay, and if I was pregnant (I wasn't) and I told them I just ate too much sugar.  Which was the truth and I think it was also what set me off.  Too much sugar = my heart races = I panic.

Now I was really worried about the 8 hour car trip to visit Phil's family which was happening in a week.  Phil and I talked about it, and we decided that I should just take an Attivan at the beginning of the trip and then I wouldn't have to worry about an attack possibly happening.  So I did, and I was sleepy and a little foggy for that car trip but it was perfect.  We made it to his family's house, and I felt I had overcome a huge hurdle.  After spending a week there, we had to drive home, and I told Phil I felt much better going into this car trip back, and that I would just take a Dramamine (because I get carsick) and see what happened.  The Dramamine helped, and I slept most of the first leg of the trip, and we got home and I was okay!  The fear of what might happen was worse than whatever actually happened.

After that trip, I felt much more confident about getting in the car.  I don't like car trips, and I still have to talk myself through them, but I know I can do it without panicking.  The rest of my life sort of fell into place in similar fashion.  I could easily recognize my triggers, and knew what I had to avoid in order to live as normally as possible.  Last summer, I was feeling really good and got back to my happy weight and the occurrences of anxiety were definitely fewer and further between.  Things were going so well that we decided to add on to our family!  

I tell myself that this baby has saved me because I have basically had zero anxiety symptoms throughout this pregnancy.  I'm not sure if it's been the shift in my hormones or what, but I am so thankful that I was able to celebrate (yes, celebrate) this past Black Friday, as a close to a year filled with anxiety and mental head games.  Getting through that one year anniversary felt like another huge hurdle cleared.  I can breathe easy.

Looking ahead, I am very hopeful for a future filled with less anxiety.  In speaking to some of my family members who have had panic attacks, I have realized that sometimes it's just something that happened but doesn't continue to happen.  I know I'm a little more high-strung than the average person, and I know my triggers to avoid, and I pray that living healthy and finding joy in my life will help me in not experiencing anything like this past year.  But I am also realistic, and know that if I go through some of these things again, I can turn to therapy or medication and I don't need to be so ashamed.  

The next hurdle that I can see on the horizon is the birth of this little bambino.  I made the decision before I got pregnant that if  we had another baby, I would go for the medicated birth this time to avoid all the anxiety and pain I associate with natural childbirth.  But now that I am pregnant, I am struggling to actually follow through on that decision without feeling like a failure.

I don't judge any mom at all, no matter how she desires to labor, but I look back at my past labors and have felt really great after the natural ones, and really crummy after the epidurals (like I failed because I couldn't do it without the drugs).  So this Advent I am praying the St. Andrew Novena for peace to know what I can handle and what I can't and the wisdom to make the right call.  

In a nutshell, what I have learned the most about my anxiety struggles is that we can never know what it's like to walk in someone's shoes until we have actually walked in them.  I have become so much less judgmental and righteous, and I try to always give people the benefit of the doubt.  If someone is rude or mean, I understand that they could easily be struggling with something internally that I am not privileged to know about.  This whole experience has given me so much more compassion for mental illness and I hope that in sharing my story, I can give someone encouragement that is going through it or an insight to what it's like if you know anyone that is experiencing something similar.  I really don't want to be dramatic, because of all the things that I could have suffered through, this is a teensy little cross, but I am so so glad that it seems to have been lifted from my shoulders, at least for now.


  1. I am glad that you are feeling better and I wish you continued health and Gods blessing in 2014!


  2. wow...I am so sorry for your struggles. But, you are not alone. Many people have issues with this but for some reason are too embarrassed to talk about it. But, it is a real medical condition. My husband has anxiety illness. He has a heart condition and when he has the anxiety attacks his heart races out of control and so for him it is important that he does take an anti-anxiety drug often so that he doesn't die from a heart attack. For me its hard because I want him to help me so much more and yet know he isn't lying when he will say he can't help me because he is having an attack--which is fairly often. For him--it is heart related and I know from him that you have to get to a hospital during the attack to even have it show on the monitor--which he did once and that's how they found out...Is there any heart conditions other than a murmar in your family?? Atrial Fib, maybe? His whole family also has anxiety attacks and also has heart issues. So when my son James started having them in September it was very alarming as I know he is not making it up. They gave me attivan for him also but |i was always afraid to give it to him...unless I was taking to the hospital. So, that is partly why we ended up homeschooling...out of medical necessity.

    As for the epidural. Please do not fell like a failure no matter what. I had epidurals with all but 2 children and I thank god for them! God gives us medicine to help us. If we have a head ache, there is no shame in taking tylenol or if our children have a fever etc...thank god there is something to give them... I really feel that God gave us the ability to have epis to HELP us. Not because we are any type of failures.

  3. Colleen, thanks for sharing this. I'll pray for you! I know that however your birth ends up, it will be great because it will be what was right for you at that moment.

    P.S. It's not a Catholic blog, but I really love Epbot. She's into crafting and geeky stuff and YA Lit and has an interesting perspective on her own anxiety issues. You might like her (she also writes Cake Wrecks, so she's hilarious).

  4. I admire your honesty very much! Anxiety/panic attacks seem to run in my family, so I read everything nodding my head and also taking mental notes about how you have overcome your attacks.

    As for the baby's birth, I know it's hard, but try not to feel like a failure if you decide to have some medicine. My natural births were better than my medicated births as well, but I also wasn't having panic attacks during labor. Whenever I've had a medicated birth, I can look back and point to the reason why it was God's plan for that particular labor. That has made me feel much more at peace with it all.

    Love you!

  5. While I don't exactly understand feeling bad about a medicated birth (because yay epidural in my book) I can sympathize with the feeling of failure. I will pray whatever you choose leaves with a sense of peace.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles in a real and open way. Phil is right, people will benefit from this and not be ashamed of themselves. And perhaps even give others the benefit of the doubt as you have stated.

  6. Wow Colleen...thank you for sharing your story. I'm so glad that you are so much better now and seem to be healed. I will pray for your decision regarding your baby's birth. I've never had a panic attack but I have had general anxiety, for me it's especially triggered by being postpartum. It was worst after my 3rd baby, after my 4th I made some dietary changed (gluten-free) and took high levels of a fish oil supplement that helped, but it was still there just at a lower level. Prayers...and thank you for sharing your story!

  7. I love that you wrote this out loud. Prayers for a peaceful delivery and post partum period. I have major depression and (so far, every time) PPD, and I'm praying hard that it won't be an issue this go-round, but I know I have all the resources in place to handle it if it is. Mental illness is definitely real, and you're a brave mama for throwing it out on the web, where it may totally save someone else's sanity (or life.)

  8. Colleen, thank you for sharing. do you read callherhappy's blog? Jenna ha written and walked with similar things. I think you are very brave.

  9. Thank you and bravo for sharing, Colleen! There is such a stigma about any sort of mental struggle, and yet, pretty much everyone struggles with some sort of mental, emotional and/or spiritual hurdle at some point in their life. We should be more open about it and more encouraging of one another.
    As for preparing for this baby's birth, I can kinda relate to you saying you felt like a failure with the epidural... I had pretty much every intervention, including ultimately a c-section, with SK and I've really struggled with feeling like a huge failure. But, at least for me, it's helped to give myself a pep talk about how pregnancy and childbirth is not about me. I can't feel like a failure because it didn't go the way that I wanted it to or the way that I think it should have gone. In an ideal world, we'd all pop out 7 pounders right on time, after 4 hours of labor no problem, am I right? Real life is more tricky than that unfortunately. Anyway, I still really struggle with balancing trust in God's plan and doing my best to ensure a healthy baby and delivery. Because ultimately it is out of my hands and I have to have peace in that regardless of how things go down.
    Again, thanks for sharing Colleen :)

  10. Thank you for sharing your story! Many people will benefit from this! I get really anxious with too much sugar and too much caffeine. I've cut the caffeine and am working on the sugar. It can be so hard.

    As far as an epidural, don't feel bad. Cooking a baby and delivering the baby are huge feats in and of themselves! God Bless!

  11. Praying that you continue to live anxiety free and that God gives you the peace and direction you need concerning the birth of your little one.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. It's always so helpful to hear what other people are going through. I tend to be very hard on people (myself included) and realizing that other people could be struggling with something I can't see helps me to be more understanding and compassionate.

  12. You are so good Colleen, I think you are always thinking of others, and I have no doubt that this will be so helpful to many, many. I can really relate to your asking God to give you a physical burden rather than a mental one. Praying for your continual healing, and with Phil, I believe letting things out in the light is an important part of that.

  13. Thank you for sharing your heart, Colleen. I am sorry to hear about the challenges you have experienced, but it was a gift to have a glimpse of what a dear friend with anxiety issues may be going through. This also gives me courage to share my true self on my own blog. I will be praying for you!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm sorry that you've been suffering this way, and I'll be sure to pray for you. I'm glad you're doing better now! Do whatever you think is best for you when this baby is born - if you want to go natural, do it, if you want the epidural, do that. It's not like there's a prize for going med-free, anyway. ;)

  15. Panic attacks stink! Each pregnancy is different and, as moms, we need to evaluate what we can handle. Labor isn't a competition, it's an experience....and you just need to figure out what will make your experience as positive as possible:)

  16. Colleen, thank you for sharing this. I have been having similar attacks for about two years now but mine only happen at night and during the second half of my cycle so I'm pretty sure they are somehow hormone related. I have been using natural progesterone cream, as I am 48, and have found that applying some more at night calms them down. I don't understand it at all, but I'm trying to do many of the things you are doing in order to stop them from occurring so frequently. I found it interesting that they have stopped now that you are pregnant and it makes me think there must be some kind of hormone connection. God Bless you in your birthing decisions!

    1. Laura, thank you for sharing this information! I am going to the doctor (this afternoon!!!) b/c I have been having panic attacks…or mini heart attacks! LOL…Well…not really funny, but I'm trying not to fear the worst! My sister is an ICU nurse and a former Cardiac Cath Lab nurse who insisted that I get into see a doctor and share this info. I actually "failed" a health screening (so to speak) this past July for my health insurance…the nurse could not get an accurate pulse reading b/c it was skipping all over the place. I can tell when it happens…chest feels tight…beating erratically..hard to breathe etc. My husband keeps telling me it's a panic attack…and he's probably right! BUT, I love what you shared about your age and where you are in your cycle…I've noticed a pattern very similar…and I turned 44 this summer. I hope you don't mind me sharing your story with my doc this PM. Valerie

    2. Valerie, go right ahead! I figure that the more info we share with each other it might end up helping someone out. At the least it helps to see that others are noticing a similar pattern. I'd be interested in hearing what your Dr. has to say!

  17. Oh Colleen, I just want to reach out and give you an enormous hug. I have never had a panic attack like what you describe, but I deal with a lot of anxiety/stress related issues. I was prescribed a medication last year, and ultimately chose not to take it. But EVERY outing is a struggle for me. My stomach gives me terrible fits, and it makes simple things like grocery shopping, such a challenge. Most of the time I just want to stay at home, hibernate, not go anywhere. And in order to get out requires an obscene amount of Tums, Pepto, no eating, the like. I feel like it runs my life, and that is a terrible feeling. I completely related to your saying that the possibility of what could happen is often so much worse than what really happens. But that's what I'm always worried about . . . what "might" happen. Anyway. Know that you are in my prayers. Hugs and love.

  18. Thank you for sharing so honestly! I am so glad you've been experiencing an anxiety-free pregnancy and I'll pray for you for an anxiety free birth, whatever way you need to accomplish that!

  19. It's so great that you shared this. I have never struggled with anxiety, but I have a good friend who does. More people sharing their everyday experiences like this would help so many mothers out there. As for the birth? Just pray as you're doing and try not to think about any decision. I know that when the time comes, you will have conviction one way or the other about the right way to go for this baby and this delivery. And either way, you get the most important prize at the end!

  20. I'm so sorry you've been dealing with this, Colleen. Prayers that you are completely healed and never have to worry about it again. And prayers for a happy, healthy, holy birth.

    P.S. Get. A. Doula. :)

  21. I love your honesty. Maybe you could make a decision on using drugs or not, just say "I am going to do it" or "I am not going to do it" and then that anxiety will be gone, because the decision is made. Just a thought.

    I know sometimes with the indecision can bring on those anxious feelings.

    I am so happy you have been feeling better with this pregnancy though, what a blessing this little baby is, even more than expected!

    I'll pray for you Colleen. Whatever you do, we all love you and support you!

  22. Hugs to you dear friend!

    "I prayed for God to take away all of the thoughts that were running through my head and make me back to normal. I told Him I would rather have a physical disease than a mental one, because nobody can see your mental handicaps and you feel so lonely and ashamed and literally crazy. I would tell myself to just stop being so dramatic. There was nothing wrong with me. I could control this. But I couldn't."

    I've been there. Many times. And don't say this is a teeny suffering. I've experienced a variety of sufferings and anxiety/depression is easily tied for first.

    As for the birth. There is no failure in birth. You are Mama. You are awesome. You will bring a child into this world and participate in MONKEY FLIPPIN' CREATION!!! Whatever the details well...whatever! But from one anxiety girl to another I know sometimes saying "whatever" just won't help.

    Squeezing you in my head (is that weird?)!

  23. I take a daily pill for anxiety and it, along with making sure I'm sleeping OK and eating well, keeps me balanced. I also had to find some coping mechanisms for those times when my anxiety was more than my maintenance meds could handle.

  24. Hugs and prayers that the anxiety and panic attacks stay far away throughout the rest of your pregnancy and delivery/postpartum.

    Others have said it much better but whatever you decide about pain management in labor will be for the best.

  25. Ugh panic attacks. They started for me 18 months ago. I agree about how bad they are and how the fear of them returning is almost worse. One piece that was really a revelation for me was that my doctor told me that Benadryl and the -D allergy drugs (e.g. Claritin-D) have been affiliated in some people as triggers. I had been using both for seasonal allergies and sleeping meds (Benadryl started off as a sleeping med). I went off them in November and I can handle the things that triggered me before (small spaces, stress, planes, subways). This weekend I took a Benadryl on a trip and felt again like I might have an attack. Just wanted to put this out there, since I had not known the connectin before my doctor told me.

  26. I am so sorry that you have had to go through these. I am so grateful for you that you have a loving, supportive, understanding husband because it can be very scary for them to witness this in their wives.

    I've had panic attacks, but always at home. I actually did not know what they were until I described them to my mom. They always happen at night, out of a sound sleep. It always feels as though I'm going to pass out, can't breathe, vomit, or am I having a heart attack feeling. I had a doozy of one which scared the daylights out of my husband. At any rate, after talking with my mom and sisters, comparing notes, we seemed to all have them start around the same age and wondered if it was part of pre-menopause. That is where all the arrows pointed for us at least. It's been over a year since my last episode.

    I found that the less stress I have (I mean the real, real troubling stress) the more likely I am to having an attack. I haven't had them in the car. That must be so terribly scary! You are describing what happened to a dear friend of mine.

    Hers were triggered after a miscarriage, shortly followed by a surgery. The stress of both as well as being around the age of 40, triggered hers on and off for about one year (or close to it.) Then they stopped. Abruptly.

    I will add you to my prayer list. Know that you are being surrounded by so many people and prayers here.

  27. Colleen, I am so sorry you had such a rough year. I am hoping it's all behind you now. It must have been so scary. Thanks for sharing your story. You will find you are not alone, I'm sure. Sending hugs.

  28. Hi, I just arrived at your blog via another blog that I follow. I just wanted to say I'm sorry you had to deal with that, and I think it's great that you are telling your story!
    This book really helped me (I promise I'm not the author promoting the book): . I can really recommend it. All the best to you with everything you're doing.

  29. Colleen, it was a brave and beautiful thing for you to share this, thank you. Thinking back to all your blog posts from that time in your life, I must say, that you've carried this cross with remarkable grace, not that that made it any lighter. You put it so well in the last paragraph, it reminded me of the quote "be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" prayers for continued peace and serenity!

  30. Thank you for being brave and sharing this! You are an amazing mom, and you will rock labor and delivery, epidural or not. Praying!

  31. Oh Colleen. I can really empathize. I wish I could give you a big hug or a high five if you're not a hugger. God bless you.

  32. I so, so, so feel for you as I experienced panic attacks during my senior year of college, which would happen when I was really stressed and sleep deprived. They were the absolute WORST, and I remember feeling so scared that something was wrong with my heart and that I was going to die during those moments. I still get anxious occasionally that I am going to have one, and I sometimes have to remove myself from situations and take deep breaths to calm down.

    Anyways, you are not alone, and I do think it's something that's a lot more common than people think. Thanks for being so honest and open! I am so glad to hear that you have been anxiety free throughout this pregnancy, and I will be praying that it continues through the birth!

  33. Thank you so much for sharing this, Colleen. I'll be praying for you too. The other night as I was falling asleep I jarred awake with what felt like intuition... I just KNEW that something terrible had happened somewhere to someone I love. I felt sick and awful and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm not sure how long it took to pass, but I did eventually fall asleep, praise be to Hod, it wasn't intuition, but probably something akin to an anxiety attack. So, I hear you. Hugs.

  34. I am so sorry. When I was 22? 23? I began having panic attacks. I knew why though and it was because of my job, particularly my boss. My doctor prescribed Zoloft but that really backfired when it caused insomnia and then I panicked over not getting sleep. Long story short, I stopped taking the meds and quit my job, but I haven’t had a panic attack since.

    Glad to hear you are doing better! I’m curious if anything ever turned up with your thyroid just because I am hypothyroid and have been since ’99. God Bless. Prayers for you and baby! :)

  35. Colleen, I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to comment on this and thank you for being so brave in sharing your situation. I, too, struggle with anxiety. You're not alone (as many have echoed). As for the birth, I don't know how you are on a daily basis, but so many times I make decisions based on what others have "recommended" I do or perhaps the guilt from what I "think or feel" is right. THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER. Which really kind of stinks because I'm always a person who wants to do things right (and perfect, if we're being perfectly honest).

    If you want my opinion, which you didn't ask for, but I"m going to pretend that you did: I say, have a little meeting with that sweet babe en utero, and you two decide. Tell your hubby (and preferably your doctor) your decision, but don't give two winks about telling any of us. You just have that baby, sister. He/she is being prayed for (as are you) and lifted up in our thoughts. I can't wait to "meet" this little one...and will probably tear up because I'm a bit of a cryer these days.

    You are a good mama. Praying for you.

  36. Oh goodness, I'm just reading this tonight (while I should be contenting packing and folding for our trip haha), so I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier. I'm so sorry that you've been going through this this past year. You are definitely not a failure or weak for having suffered through this. You definitely don't have anything to be ashamed of either, because we all have our quirks and struggles. It's really amazing that you've come through it and then have shared about it and how you are still working through it. I really admire your courage and as you know, think you're the best.
    No joke.
    Love you lots and lots and praying for you this advent season, dear friend.


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