**WARNING: What started out as a short (ish) post has turned into quite a long glimpse into my life, so consider yourself warned. I don’t want to scare you off, but just be prepare for some “deep” reading**
This post will probably sound disjointed and all over the place but I need to just type…For no apparent reason I feel like “this”. **SPOILER ALERT** I used to be a solely negative person, with low self esteem and didn’t like who I was. I have been working hard to change that and move forward with my life but sometimes I just feel like “this”. It is hard to explain what “this” feeling is but I know these days it will not last for long and that’s because I am working on it… I really am trying to work on it.
Sometimes there is a trigger to “this” feeling (a fight with my fiance, not enough sleep or a tough day at work) and sometimes (like now) there is no trigger, just me and my thoughts. These thoughts make me feel worthless and alone. These thoughts make me question who I am and who I want to be. Right now, I don’t want to be “this” person. I want to be the new-and-improved version of me, or at least the work-in-progress version. The version that is trying hard to leave the past in the past and move forward with her life.
Okay so let’s point out the elephant in the room…come on, you can say it…yes you can…okay…ANXIETY. There I said it. This blog was supposed to be an avenue for me to stay positive and be happy, but unfortunately tonight it has taken a detour. I’m not ashamed of my anxiety, it’s just something I have to deal with and some days are harder than others. Today is one of those days.
I suppose for this to make any sense, I guess I should start at the beginning…let’s rewind to 2004. I was 15. High School is not a fun age for anyone, let alone an easy one. I had a minor meltdown in the doctors office, more than once. The first time was because of my skin. You know oily, pimply, teen aged skin. It didn’t have acne but it wasn’t exactly something that you can look in the mirror and be happy with, so I went to the doctor. Now back then, doctors used to prescribe a particular contraceptive pill to reverse the effects of oily/pimply skin, especially when it wasn’t limited to your face. Back, shoulders, arms included, so I guess you get the picture. I think within a year I was back in the doctors office, this time balling my eyes out and unable to successfully string a sentence together let alone two words. This time I was prescribed a mild anti-depressant, you know to cope with the struggles of being a teenager, or so I thought.
The years that went by after that seemed like a blur. I didn’t feel anything. I felt numb to emotions. I felt like a shell of a person. I didn’t seem real to me. It wasn’t until 2010 after finishing Uni, graduating and getting my first full time job did I start to want to feel again. To be an actual person, not just an image in the mirror, an image in my head. I was still on medication by this point but was in discussions with my doctor (a different one from when I was in High School) to lessen the dose so I could ween myself off and become pill-free. That’s when I met my fiance (well he wasn’t my fiance back then, but I’m not ready to give him a name yet) and so began my transition to being pill-free. To be honest, I think we met at the right time in our lives. We had both recently broken up with our significant others and both starting to try and move forward. I guess you could say we were both broken when we met and then started to mend each others pieces so we could become whole again, together. With his help, I gradually weened myself off the anti-depressants and started to really live again… or at least be the opposite of numb for a couple of years.
The year 2014, age 25. So the story continues, and another trip to the doctor, this time I was crying for a completely different reason. I remember waking up with a stiff neck which wasn’t entirely unusual, so I didn’t think anything of it until I was at work a few hours later. I was sitting at my desk and started to worry as my neck got stiffer and stiffer and generally more painful. It wasn’t just my neck either, my back too. By this point I could no longer stay at work so I drove myself home (yes stupid I know, but what’s done is done) and booked the next available doctors appointment (I think the following day). I’m pretty sure my Mum ended up taking me as I could hardly move or really walk/sit.
After much unavoidable prodding, poking and x-rays to confirm, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis…at 25! It’s not unheard of and is rare in someone so young but there I was 25 in the body of a 60 year old. Well didn’t that just boost my confidence. The doctor described the locking up of my neck and back as an “episode”. I was given some strong anti-inflammatories to take during these episodes and if I was going to be doing something strenuous on my body. It took a bit of wrapping my head around it but nowadays its just normal to me.
So Osteoarthritis at 25 mixed with a high-stress job/working environment is an explosion waiting to happen. It took nearly two years for the self-combustion meltdown to happen, but it did and boy it wasn’t pretty. It was an epic meltdown and I nearly ended up in hospital, but thankfully my family were there to support me and get me the help I really needed. Another doctors visit (believe me I am sick of them too…no pun intended) and this time it was back to the original doctor who prescribed me with the pill for my skin and the anti-depressants for my mood. The doctor I was seeing went on a kind of sabbatical and didn’t return until last year. And what do you know, I was prescribed another round of medication, this time for anxiety. I was in no state to go to work, and the transition with this medication made me physically sick for the first week of taking it as they were quite strong and my body was not used to it. I took two weeks stress leave and started to officially look for alternative employment. Thankfully it didn’t take me long (like a week before the interview and another 2 weeks for the offer to come through).
I returned to work and after a week of being back I handed in my resignation. The company I used to work for didn’t really value me an an employee. The company structure changed alot in the five and a bit years that I worked there and in their eyes the way to save money was to not hire additional staff where it was clearly needed. As a result this job almost cost me my sanity. When I left I found out that my position was not replaced and it took not one or two remaining employees to fill my position but…wait for it….FIVE people. I always knew I was expected to do the work of two, maybe three people and I did pretty well. I was good at my job, but you cannot expect someone to continually ask for help and never get any and expect them to stay. I never understood the work/life balance when I worked there because I didn’t have one.
Anyways this leads up to the last 12 months and boy was it eventful. So here goes nothing (never a dull moment for Miss Green Shoes is it…?). So after giving my month’s notice (it was because of my contract I had to wait so long) I finished work on the Friday and started my new position in a completely different industry on the Monday…the week before Christmas. I had thought long and hard about taking this position. It was less money and a higher role in a family business. I would be running my own department, something I had not done in an official capacity before, but I made the sacrifice for my health, finances and hopefully my career/future. So I was doing pretty well over the next 5 maybe 6 months, but I noticed I had put on 10kg since starting my knew job. I didn’t think much of it at the time as ever since I was about 15 I had struggled with my weight. Up down up down. The weight factor didn’t really help my self esteem it only fueled it, but I neglected to notice it (much anyway) nor did I actively try to do anything about it.
No only did I notice I had packed on weight (it was only 2 years ago I had lost 20kg wasn’t it??) but my mood wasn’t any better. I had a short fuse, some anger management issues, I was grumpy, didn’t sleep to well and generally not a great delight to be around. My body felt unpredictable and I couldn’t help the feeling that there was something wrong with me. So what did I do? You guessed it, went back to the doctor (again same one who prescribed the pill for my skin, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds). I was sent for so many tests it wasn’t funny. After numerous blood tests and ultrasounds the doctor diagnosed me with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). For those of you who don’t know, its a disorder that affects your weight, hormones and sometimes the ability to have children.
So here I was 26, with my worst fears come true, the fact there was a reason I was overweight and a very real possibility I was not going to be able to bare my own children. This scared the hell out of me. Of everything I ever wanted to be was a mother and a wife and now one of those dreams may never come true. I was devastated. Blow after blow, my life was just…shit…there is no other word for it. After everything I had been through, it was almost enough to shake me into oblivion. I tried to lose weight but it seemed almost impossible, I was always hungry, never full. When I tried not to eat I got sick.
This went on for a few more months until my mother had done her own research into PCOS. She had looked into specialist treatments and doctors in the top of their field and finally she came across an Endocrinologist in Brisbane. She was determined to get me there even if she had to beat down the door herself and beg. That’s when I found out my doctor (remember the sabbatical one?) returned. She was always a great doctor, so helpful and pleasant to deal with. She really cared about her patients and knew what she was talking about. So I gathered my intel and made a big list of everything I could think of that was wrong with me (like as in related to my diagnosis) along with a note that said “get a referral to this Endocrinologist and don’t leave with out it”. So I sat in her office, rattled off everything that had happened since I last saw her (25..osteoarthritis) and practically demanded she give me a referral to the specialist in Brisbane. She was only too happy to help. She did however send me for more blood tests, gee I hate blood tests and needles….uuuuggghhhhh.
So after going to the Endocrinologist in Brisbane (about 5 hours from where I live) twice and a bunch of blood tests, glucose tests and ultrasounds I was given a diagnosis…..I had been MISDIAGNOSED with PCOS…Yep you heard it…misdiagnosed. I was gobsmacked, how can someone get something so wrong? After the final test results came back and a thorough investigation into my medical history here is what she said. Basically the contraceptive pill I was prescribed for my skin in my teens and the anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds had had an extreme reaction to my body. It allowed me to put on copious amounts of weight in the last 12 years, triggered the depression (although depression does run in my family) and was the cause of my extreme hormonal problems. If I thought I was gobsmacked at misdiagnosis, you should have seen me then. There were not enough words to describe what I was feeling and the thoughts that were going through my head. This one conversation with the specialist made a large portion of my life make sense. I would have never have put two and two together and come up with that. I am so grateful to her, she literally helped change my life.
I went off the contraceptive pill to try and normalise my hormones, which after nearly 12 months I seem pretty “normal” now. I went back to my doctor and changed my anxiety medication to a more “weight-neutral” alternative (seems to be working for now). With the change in medication, I actually sleep better now, I am less hungry and don’t overeat as much, and I can actually lose weight if I stick to my diet and exercise (which at the moment I can’t do as I am still in a moonboot from my little tumble one month ago). Previously when I had tried to lose weight through diet and exercise, my weight would swing like a pendulum and eventually would all come back on no matter how hard I tried.
I’m not completely out of the woods with the having children thing, my last tests did not show I was producing any eggs (it isn’t uncommon after being on the pill for so long), so I have more tests in June to find out. I am trying to stay positive and whatever will be will be, it will just have to be something I have to live with either way. At the moment I am still happily taking my “weight-neutral” anxiety meds and finally I have started to lose a small amount of size and weight (yay for me…finally). Compared to where I was, I am much happier but I still have my moments, except they don’t last as long as they once did.
Sometimes my anxiety takes hold and I could be living in the “dark” for a day or an hour, but give me time and I snap out of it soon enough. Before, I was in a constant state of darkness, couldn’t see a way out and felt like I was drowning in my own self pity. With medication, counseling and a new job (well I have been there now for just over 12 months, so not exactly “new”) I am finally starting to actually be happy with my life and myself as a person.
Funny thing about anxiety, when you talk about it, it gets easier, you understand it more than when you say nothing and let it eat you up inside. At the start of this post (about 2 hours ago) I was angry, upset, broken and generally not liking the person I am, now after bearing my soul to the blogging community (if anyone actually reads this) and more so myself, after physically typing and reading what comes out of my head, I am feeling much better. In state of content.
So thanks for letting me get real with you all and I suppose real with myself. I hope there will be less negative/anxious posts in the future and more positive ones. A chapter in my life closed last year and this year was all about the new me. That’s why I am here, blogging, trying something new. I have taken a good stab at it and I really hope I continue with this blogging thing.
A piece of advice I will leave you with, I suppose more targeted to those suffering from anxiety, depression, weight issues and general unhappiness, don’t let it consume you. You are not your anxiety and there is always a way forward, you just have to believe in yourself and if you can’t, find someone who can make you believe.
Please feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any anxiety/weightloss questions/comments or generally anything you want to talk about. I would love to hear from you guys
So until next time…
The Girl in the Green Shoes