For years I was diagnosed with “anxiety and depression” and treated for it, but it never really goes away. My friend, Bonnie, sent me a link about people with “high functioning anxiety”. This was it! When I might happen to tell a friend I haven’t been out in a while because of my anxiety/depression, they would say, “really??? you seem so good!”. If they only knew what was going on inside my head and stomach!
I’ve written about my Tardive Dyskinesia before (a rare side effect from certain antidepressants), but a friend told me not to talk about it and not to tell people I have it. She saw it as no big deal, she wasn’t being mean. But it works out better for me when I tell people on the phone that I’m not drunk, that my slurred speech is from TD. It works out better for me when I tell my friends I’m out with that my jaw is working back and forth because of TD. My one friend said, “Sarah, I thought you were chewing gum!!” I could have hugged her, I wish it was as simple as chewing gum.
I had to go to a “movement disorder neurologist” (I had never known there were different types of neurologists). She quickly diagnosed me and was sympathetic.
I bite the insides of my mouth and my tongue, and my words are slurred. It’s no longer just a lisp I have, I’m slurring. I also grind my teeth and push my bottom jaw forward. There have been two new medications recently out on the market for TD. I’ve tried both, and, of course, they gave me such horrible side effects I couldn’t continue the drugs.
So while I’m fighting my anxiety and depression, I’m also fighting the drive-thru at Tim Hortons so they can understand me. I just wish more people knew about this. I was ignorant until Andrea and I started googling, “wiggling tongue”!
When people are less knowledgeable in the area of anxiety and clinical depression than I expect, I usually say, “If it were a toggle switch, I would have turned it off a LONG time ago”.
I have incessant worry. I get so excited when I don’t have something to worry about – I realize it and say to myself, “Oh my word, I’m happy right now!” (But I’m usually pretty good at cooking up some type of worry.) Thankfully, I have a handful of friends who realize this, and I call/email each of them with my worry. They all say, “screw that” in one way or the other, and my worry will usually slowly fade away. Incessant. Toggle Switch.
High anxiety = perseveration. Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, I spend perseverating. It’s not a word most people know at the tip of their fingers.
repeat or prolong an action, thought, or utterance after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased.
ORIGIN: early 20th century: from Latin perseverat- ‘strictly abided by,’ from the verb perseverare (see persevere). Note this word persevere – it’s how we go into survival mode when we have anxiety.
It’s not a pleasant part of anxiety (yes, there are good parts to anxiety). It’s a part of anxiety we wear on our sleeve – people recognized it and get aggravated by it. I don’t blame them for getting aggravated when I perseverate. I’m like a broken record and cannot move on. I roll things back in my mind over and over and over, thinking, “if I had only said this”, or “if I had only said that”. Seinfeld has an episode with George perservating on what his comeback reply could have been and spends the whole episode trying to come up with a “good enough” one in his mind. In the end, his comeback was silly, which goes to show you it doesn’t serve you well. (George and the shrimp store episode). Sometimes I get caught on a memory from years ago that I go over and over in my mind. My poor husband. (He hears it, over and over and over).
My therapist is the kindest person around, and she helps me to work on coping mechanisms for it. Mindfulness, mostly, and this little image she had me draw in my calendar that I picture each time my mind is stuck. And Xanax. Xanax, of course.
I’ve been to therapy on and off over the years for pretty much the same reason. Anxiety. And my personal picture of anxiety has a lot of arms that extend off of it with other maladies attached (depression, chronic migraines, etc.).
If you are an avid blog follower or have read my book, you’ll know that I’ve written “flashbacks” about growing up with two alcoholic parents. And with this plethora of alcoholic remembrances of mine, I’ve tried to use what I learned in writing classes: Tragedy + Time = Humor for people to understand just where I’m coming from. But my therapist said nobody will ever really be able to understand the fear it produced in me personally (and still does).
My last visit to the therapist, who knows me well, has me on a mission – a project. You may be shocked at this mission. I am to tell a little white lie. A lie that will not produce harm to anyone in anyway. You see, I have a huge hangup about lying. To the point that I obsess about it. There are many reasons and ways people lie: pathologically, innocently, bullshitting, by omission, humorously. I can’t tolerate any of them. I’m too darned black and white. A lie is a lie, it’s dishonest. My parents lived a lie every single day I can remember, by carrying on every evening with their drinks/escapades that sometimes put us in danger and always put me in a panic. Then in the morning, they pretended as if nothing wrong had happened. That’s living a big fat old lie. And I, unfortunately, think it’s my personal mission to right the world of these lying wrongs! It’s a heavy burden, I’m telling you. It’s a burden I’m looking forward to shedding.
So over the next two weeks before I see the therapist again, I am to have a little fun with this. Perhaps while ordering at McDonalds, I could order a vegetarian meal and tell them I don’t eat meat (I do eat meat). Perhaps I’ll start a conversation with someone and tell them I just got a new puppy (I did not just get a new puppy). My therapist wants me to see how it feels to lie and to see it doesn’t always have to be righted. I’m game. And I’ve been having fun thinking of things I can lie about.
Who, me? I’ve never been known to be a positive thinker. I’d like to be, but I’m just not wired that way. I wasn’t brought up in an environment that I could think positively. I’m a “glass is half empty-kind of gal.”
After a mini-breakdown and crying jag last week, one of my friends got me a journal and told me she’s been reading a book that encourages you to write down things that you typically take for granted in life that bring a little smile to your face. This will hopefully enable you to see the bright side of life vs. the dark side. (We all know how I live on the dark side.)
So I started my journal on Monday. It took me until Wednesday until I found something positive to write down:
Wednesday: Elderly chimney-fix-it man who came to look at my leaky chimney said I was a sweetheart. In other words, I think he was hitting on me. That’s thinking positively, right? I’ll take it.
Friday: Bristol (a 4-year old) told me she liked my new glasses. The woman at the gas station said she liked my cape. The sun is out today. Sciencegirl got some great results on her analyses today.
And the week before I got my journal: My lawyerboy son came out and helped me with my caved-in snow-laden shed and recovered my family heirloom toboggan.