We all have it – emotional baggage. If you don’t, you’re all of 3 years old and I have no idea how you are reading this, but kudos to you. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life – mostly ups – but somehow the downs are really doing a number on my livelihood as of late. I think they have been for many years, but I wasn’t self aware enough to realize or address it. At the ripe age of forty, I am now ready to tackle the demons that have plagued most all of my relationships since I was a teenager.
Pan over to Husband #2. The man has put up with more from me in the past four years than most people have to deal with in a lifetime. I don’t want to say I’m “mental” because a) that’s not correct and b) that sounds derogatory and it’s not. I have issues, plain and simple. Issues that have turned me into a teeth-clenching, eye-rolling, tightwad to him at home, yet a sugary sweet, nurturing angel to anyone outside of that. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no angel either. He has genuine things that I think would bother even the most zen of people. But he still gets a lot more Snippy Sherri than he should and he’s been so understanding and loving through all I’ve dished out. Add to that my lack of affection, wanting to be touched, or do anything but lie in bed by myself and watch TV when we’re at home and you have a marriage made in heaven. He deserves a medal.
The past year or so I’ve started to feel stronger negative emotions than I have before. Anything remotely sad on TV, or a fleeting moment from a past, failed relationship, sends me into a whirlwind of emotions including sobbing uncontrollably (and inconsolably), hiding in the bathroom so Husband doesn’t see, driving in my car for hours on end from wistfulness, and parking to watch trains for hours, wanting to jump on one and just start over new somewhere else. Any trigger will send me into a fit of racking sobs where my heart feels like someone close to me has died. I can cry for hours with no idea WHY I am crying or for so long. That itself is enough to make me feel quite unhinged in the head. Keep in mind this is all away from work, too. When I’m at work, I’m professional, funny, completely grounded Sherri who gets the job done and well!
I’ve known I wanted to talk to someone outside of my comfort zone for a while. I’ve been to therapy before and while I firmly believe in it and talking things out, it’s never been terribly effective for me in helping me feel better. But, I know it can never hurt so I made an appointment with a therapist that a friend recommended. Always hesitant to talk about myself (I would much rather hear all about you), I went in trepidatiously. I stared out the window, not making eye contact, during our hour-long chat about my past, my present, and my fear of the future. With the therapist’s blessing, I left knowing I could come back to her if I wanted or try another therapist if I felt like she wasn’t a good fit. Her last words to me that day were, “I think you are someone who tries so hard to be happy, always putting on a smile and cheering people on, and you’re dying on the inside.” I immediately burst into tears with overwhelming relief that she was able to put it into words what I hadn’t been able to and what I was feeling. One thing she did want me to do, no matter who I saw, was to visit one of their in-house psychiatrists to talk about my current medication and see if any changes were needed or recommended.
I’ve been on Zoloft for anxiety for the past 5 years, prescribed by my general physician. While I adore my GP to pieces, I was glad to visit an actual specialist in mind and medicine matters. I had to fill out the equivalent of an autobiography for this new doctor and the meeting went well. Telling myself I would not cry at this meeting simply talking about my medication, I teared up and let it flow about twenty minutes in. I didn’t know if I was depressed, anxious, or something else, but I knew I was something. She noted some symptoms of depression, but nothing major there (which I’m extremely grateful for because I know how hard living with that can be) and she attributed most of my outbursts and mood swings to anxiety. I was befuddled. “Why am I crying all the time over everything if I’m not full-on depressed?” She said, “Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, including bouts of crying and sadness.” What? WHAT? How come no one told me that before now? Oh, because I never talked to anyone about it before now. Go me!
We’re changing my medication. In fact, I started the new medication over the weekend, having weaned myself down from my Zoloft the past week and continuing to do so over the next two weeks. She is confident we will have turned a corner when I go back in five weeks, even though my prescription may still need tweaking. Yesterday was the first day the new medicine was in my system and I could tell. She warned me about common side effects and boy, was she right! I didn’t feel well most of the day, but today seems to be better so I’m extremely thankful.
I also had my second session with Therapist this past week. She was more amazing than the first time and we focused on an event in my past that apparently I was still very hung up on (I had no idea). I sobbed the entire hour in her office, going through an activity to help let that part of my past go. To say it worked is an understatement; I felt drained and like an 18-wheeler hit me after I left and for the next few days. I was despondent, out of sorts, and generally numb. I really had no idea why until I woke up on Friday and felt completely renewed. I wasn’t sure if it was weaning off my old medication or the therapy session, but I felt like a huge weight was gone – it was a breakthrough. I felt truly happy when I smiled at my husband that morning and he saw it – legitimately saw it. Things I have had panic attacks about for the last twenty years were just ‘meh’ to me now. I intentionally thought about them Friday morning and had such a different reaction that wasn’t negative at all. A warm sensation filled my body and I was immediately at peace with this fear. I was elated!
I am not sure what the future holds and I don’t know how this new medication will work, but one thing is for sure: I’ve felt better and more alive and myself than I have in a long time. Sunshiny Sherri, not Snippy Sherri. All that to say this, if you are feeling alone, crazy, or just out of sorts, talk to someone. If money is keeping you from seeking help, there are plenty of resources like Oasis Counseling, Impact Counseling, Covenant Counseling, and others that offer free or affordable counseling. You don’t have to hide in the bathroom or in your head. Take the first step and just reach out, even if it’s just to a friend – chances are they have been in your shoes or know someone who has and can empathize and even recommend someone they know. And, no matter what, you can always talk to me at sherri (at) yougotrossed (dot) com.