Over the years, I’ve battled anxiety in different forms and fashions. As a kid, I had a brief struggle with mild agoraphobia – fears about being alone in big crowds – that resolved by the time I entered middle school. What was left behind was, I think, some form of social anxiety. (I know – I probably ought to “see someone” about it, but it doesn’t interfere with my daily life, so I’ve just left it alone. I’m still uncomfortable being in big cities, I hate to make most phone calls, and I get horribly nervous with any kind of confrontation. Unfortunately, those are all things that you just have to do at some point in life, so I usually just do it. Lately, my anxiety level is getting worse, and I’ve been hoping that writing about it will help. Originally, I planned to do a whole post about all this crap that’s torturing me right now, but it became something so long and unwieldy that I decided to split it up over multiple posts. Gee, aren’t you a lucky reader?
I’m not the only one. I keep telling myself that, hoping that by the 8 millionth time, the refrain will really sink in. My mind and body will eventually relax, the anxiety that is gripping me with razor-sharp nails will let up, and I’ll stop worrying about, oh, ya know… everything.
I’m not the only one who is in a wee bit of a panic about money right now. On one hand, that simple fact does make me feel better. If I were, say, the only woman who was laying awake nights trying to calculate all the bills that will be coming due in the next two weeks versus the balance in the checkbook and the next pay date – well, then I’d feel lonely and isolated as well as ashamed and fretful. On the other hand, misery doesn’t always love company; it seems that no matter where I go, I see headlines or hear news blurbs about the terrible economy, and all of that information doesn’t help me put it out of my mind. Instead, I can’t escape it. And I really, honestly, don’t understand the stock market and half of the other “economic indicators” that the pundits and experts keep going on and on about, so I get all scared and in a lather just over the darn inexplicability of it all.
I’m just flat-out scared. My husband and I both have good degrees in decent fields – but it turns out we’re one of those families they talk about on the news. The ones who are just “one crisis away” from being in BIG trouble. Oh, sure – residency is a guaranteed job for the next couple of years, so unlike millions of American families I’m not facing the specter of possible looming unemployment. But if anything else goes wrong, like if the furnace quits in the middle of the winter or if the car breaks down, then I don’t think we’d be able to pay our bills. And that’s a really horrible thought, especially when you’re getting ready to bring another baby (and all her requisite financial obligations) into the family.
I’m not the only one with pregnancy hormones making everything seem a little worse. And before you get too worried about me, I have discussed my general state of anxiety with my midwives – for a few reasons. For one thing, an awesome aspect to midwifery care is that my visits generally go beyond the basic “pee in a cup, check your weight, listen to the baby’s heartbeat” quickies that I got with my old OB. There is always time to talk, time to check in on my overall state of mind, and bringing up a rising anxiety level fits right in to the flow of conversation. For another thing, I wanted to find out what medications might be safe for me to take that would help me get a better night’s sleep – as it turns out, plain Benedryl or Tylenol PM are both acceptable choices – since I used a prescription for Ambien during my pregnancy with Smooch. And finally, I wanted to make sure that my chart was flagged for extra follow-up after Doodlebug arrives, because I’m aware that having an anxiety problem before a baby is born puts me at higher risk for PPD once she’s here.
Money. Anxiety. Money anxiety. It’s sort of all the same thing right now for me – but at least I’m not the only one.
X’s and O’s (An American Girl) – Trisha Yearwood
Phone rings, baby cries
TV diet guru lies
Good morning honey
Go to work, make up
Try to keep the balance up
Between love and money
She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s trying to make it in her daddy’s world
She’s an American girl
An American girl.