Many of you joined me on my weight loss journey and are aware that I graduated with a degree in nutrition and dietetics earlier this year and am currently working my way through a dietetic internship with Sodexo. Some of you also know about the health problems I've had this past year. However, I haven't opened up about everything. I've been so concerned with what other people will think that I've kept a few details to myself. Usually my goal is to be positive and motivate others, but life just isn't that easy right now. I wish it were. The truth is that every day has been a struggle for me. I hope that by opening up a little about what I am dealing with, that it will help others as well.
This year I lost 10 pounds....but not by choice. I lost weight due to severe anxiety and depression. My concerns about my health and chronic pain, compounded by the stress over my graduation, wedding, and internship, have created one of the most intense bouts of anxiety and depression I have ever experienced. Everyone thinks that weight loss is a cure all. While weight loss has definitely helped me fit into skinny jeans, improved my blood tests, prevented and/or postponed diabetes, and helped me discover my love for cooking, the rest of me still needs a bit of help.
I have been seeing a therapist for a few months and am currently trying to get back on anxiety meds, although the side effects have not been pleasant. My anxiety has led to severe depression and I am trying to get help. It's frustrating...I have friends and family members that can get on and off meds without a problem, but I struggle. I personally hate meds and wish I could get through my internship without them. However, by mid-day in the hospital the anxiety is constant. I walk up on the floor and feel tingly and dizzy for no reason at all. In fact, I was in the ER a couple of months ago while working at Lehigh Valley Hospital. There were even days where I would cry on the way to the hospital just to get emotions out, hopeful I could alleviate some of my anxiety. Then I requested a transfer to a smaller, more local hospital, which has helped, but still causes daily challenges.
I have been debating back and forth about dropping out of my internship. There's a part of me that strongly feels that if I'm in need of meds to get through the day then I'm not meant to be where I am. But there's another part of me that hates to quit and is afraid to be a failure in the eyes of friends and family members, especially after working so hard to get where I am. In the end, the decision will be mine and Fay's and it will be the best for me, but it's a tough place to be.
While I'm starting to feel that the meds are helping with the depression, the anxiety is terrible...and the headaches and side effects even worse. I spent my holiday break on and off Xanax just to deal with the side effects of medication. I even took a little Xanax the morning of my wedding and a glass of wine that afternoon just so I could relax enough to enjoy the day (which thankfully I did). The thing most people don't realize about anxiety and depression is that anyone can have it. The strongest people in the world can deal with it. It's terrible! Getting up everyday, getting into the shower, and pushing yourself out the door can often be a struggle. People sometimes ask me what I am so anxious about. That seems like an odd question to me, because if I knew, I wouldn't have to deal with the constant state of anxiety. Other people will put their hand on my shoulder and tell me to "relax." While I appreciate the concern, I wish it were that easy.
Last year, I became so obsessed with figuring out the root of my chronic pain, visiting Dr. offices, seeking help through massage and acupuncture and getting help for my anxiety and depression that I forgot to live! I analyzed every weird body feeling, every pain, and every skipped heartbeat. I also put so much of my energy into being angry and frustrated that I forgot to celebrate being alive. Everyone has their personal struggle. For some people it's cancer, alcoholism, diabetes, Lyme Disease, or MS. For the rest of us it might be depression or anxiety, which can sometimes be just as serious and debilitating. It's a loss of freedom. The good news is that I know I am not alone and I have nothing to be embarrassed by or ashamed of for dealing with this. Still, I want my life back.
This year my resolution is to take back my life. I am switching therapists next week to try some new techniques, I am signing up for pilates, and I am going to focus on bringing joy into my life. If that means leaving my internship, so be it. Although that is still "to be determined", life is too short to live in fear or sadness. I'm tired of being controlled by fear and depression. I want to live again and spread joy and health to others again without needing Xanax. I know it can happen. I am bringing positivity into my life and I encourage everyone to do the same.
This year, keep in mind that there are many of us struggling with anxiety and/or depression. It's usually the people that seem the happiest that are struggling the most, so smile at everyone and say hello to that stranger sitting next to you. That one gesture may be exactly what they need to get help.