Saturday, 1 September 2012

Welcome to my mental health crisis

I finally realized last night that I have become, officially, unhinged.
This happens to me once in a great while when I'm under an enormous amount of stress.
It's been a bad economic time for our family with Scott changing jobs, Nick not having one, and me working only six months of the year as a magazine editor. Our rent is too high and our bills were getting away from us. We also have a Mastercard that we've been unable to pay off for years now because of the crushing interest payments.
We've made some course corrections in the last month or so which will finally make our living situation manageable. Our plan is to have all the debt paid off in two years and finally start saving again.
It's not that we're spendthrifts but we've faced several crises in the last couple of years that started to sink us.
It began with the toxic oil spill on Smyth Road. We had to make an emergency move which, despite having insurance, started to eat away at what savings we did have. If we'd had time to shop around for accommodation, we would not have moved where we are. It didn't help that our kids wanted this place because it has a separate apartment, for which, they said they would pay rent, but didn't. Then Nick and Shyla had little Skylar which put more stress on our finances. Then two of our dogs got sick and had to be euthanized. Then the remaining hound, Gordie, had to have his teeth pulled. It's not hard to leave your wallet at the vet, let me tell you.
It became obvious that we needed to make some changes or we were going to the poor house in a wine barrel.
So we moved Shyla and Skylar back in with her mother and we put Nick in charge of finding roommates. That means our rent will only be $350 a month instead of $1,575. We also decided to go to credit counselling to get the interest taken off the damned credit card so we can pay it off.
Now that the plan is in place, you might think I could relax a little. But if you thought that, then you wouldn't know me.
I have generalized anxiety disorder which I manage to keep in check most of the time by exercising, eating right and keeping away from stressful situations. My anxiety is so bad, I can't work full time. I can't take the bus and I go into full blown hyperventilation just driving downtown.
My condition has given me high blood pressure which I have to manage along with the anxiety.
It's a two-fer.
I know this about myself, so I don't go anywhere, really, except to familiar places like the grocery store or the gymnasty.
Here's the other fantastic thing about panic disorder in my case.
I have learned to manage it, but if I'm under stress for a long period, it will remain in check until after I've averted the crisis. Then I have a breakdown as I did this week.
For the last few nights, I've found myself lying awake, lying in a pool of sweat, my entire body vibrating from sheer terror. My skin erupted in hives, I've lost three pounds, but not in a good way, and I've spent all day lying on the couch watching cooking shows.
The anxiety has not been helped by the fact that I've been called back to the hospital for an ultrasound on my left breast. I've been assured that it's probably nothing. I suffer from fibrocystitis, which means I have dense breasts full of cysts and stuff, which I imagine is something like the floor of an Ontario lake full of tree branches and zebra mussels. This condition makes it hard for the radiologist to see if there are any spots or tumors.
Being overly stressed to begin with, and armed with the wacky imagination of a writer, I started to babble on about having breast cancer. If they find anything, I told Scott, I'll have both of my boobs taken off.
No discussion.
Then I started projecting and rationalizing.
Oh well, I said, look at the upside.
I could live boob free without the excruciating pain I have in my upper and middle back. I could go braless for the first time in 45 years, never again have to treat the oozing sores under the underwire, never again have to waken to the hot white pain after a pug pierces my nipple with his claw by accident.
No, Scott, said. That's not the upside. The upside would be that you didn't have breast cancer.
Last night, Scott finally made me see that I was experiencing an inappropriate response to a potential health crisis.
He had been talking to a customer, who works at the hospital in oncology, about my boob lopping ideation and he said she was shocked at my response. She told him that I should take myself to the doctor and ask him to send me to a plastic surgeon, stat, for a breast reduction.
It was then I realized she thought I was a head case.
We talked this over for a long time last night. I cried for two hours and babbled about the fact I've always felt like a circus freak.
I made the decision to follow the nice lady's advice.
For the first time in two weeks, I slept soundly in my bed.
By being honest with myself, I was able to put the anxiety genie back in the bottle.
I've decided to take this one step at a time. I'll go for the ultrasound next Thursday. If they find something lurking in my fibrocystic breasts, then there will decisions that have to be made.
If I get the all clear, then it's off to the plastic surgeon.
Either way, my life will never be the same.


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