Friday night I met up with a friend who is going through a lot. I felt as though I could be her confidante and that in listening to her, I’d be able to provide her with some peace. She talked about work and motherhood and then the conversation turned towards me. Through tears in my eyes, I started to unload everything including all of my fears about having a baby on my own.
I was so angry with myself – she needed me and I liked to be the one who would help others, listen and never judge. Yet I couldn’t listen because I could just feel the anxiety bubbling over in me and I was just so grateful that she was there. She sat there looking at me full of so much love and compassion and my words just kept spilling out.
This week I received the news I had been longing to hear – Mount Sinai has funding so my first IUI will be in the next couple of weeks. When the nurse gave me this information I felt as though I was floating on a cloud. This was going to happen – I was going to be a Mom.
Within 48 hours the euphoric feeling I was experiencing turned into questions which turned to fear. Where would I live after giving birth? How would I afford rent? When would I get pregnant? Could I get pregnant? Could I still maintain my friendships if I had a baby? How would I find other Moms to communicate with?
With every question came more anxiety until there I sat on Friday night, unable to take a breath or a pause in the conversation because I was so just full of fear.
Thankfully my friend helped to settle my fears and we both established the fact that nobody really has their shit together. People may appear that way, but everyone is just trying to get by.
On Saturday morning I had plans to have brunch with friends. As soon as we met, we started talking about fertility and anxiety and I started to struggle. Now I was listening to them discuss their anxiety and fears in pregnancy/motherhood and I could feel my own fears/anxiety increasing. Before going through this process, I could have listened to this for hours on end but for whatever reason, this conversation was creating a reaction in my body.
With a strong therapist and a good family doctor, I was slowly able to wean myself off my anxiety meds in December. At first, people congratulated me and I congratulated myself for still being able to function off the medication. I’m a huge believer in the importance of medication though and it was very difficult to go off the medication after about ten years of meds, eight of this specific anxiety medication.
But I feel like an imposter being congratulated because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stay away from anxiety meds. Sometimes I feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread. Other times, I feel like I am in full control and that going off meds was actually a blessing because it forced me to set boundaries and be able to say “no.”
In mid-conversation during a beautiful brunch, I felt a panic attack coming on so I started to try and distract myself – making jokes, looking around the room, taking deep breaths. Nothing seemed to be working and I could feel the anxiety forming inside of me. My heart started beating faster and my body kept sending a message saying “danger, danger. Run. You need to run fast. Get out now and run.” Yet, in looking around the room, everyone looked so peaceful as they were enjoying their coffee and pancakes.
How could I be having such an internal struggle while the scene was so peaceful? The outward me looked so calm and collected but my body was at war with my brain. Was there anyone else in the room looking calm while on the verge of a panic attack?
When I went off the meds, my doctor gave me five 0.5 mg of lorezapram that I am allowed to take if I feel a panic attack coming on.
I took the pill, excused myself to the washroom and sat in the washroom talking to myself.
“You are okay. Take deep breaths. You have got this.” Saying my positive affirmations in the mirror seemed to help a bit and I realized that if I were in the washroom any longer, my friends would have known something was up.
When I got back to the table, we were discussing fertility treatments and I couldn’t take it any longer.
I sat there trying to come up with an excuse to literally run out of the restaurant. I made a couple of jokes, downed my mimosa, and kept waiting for that moment where I was going to make an excuse to get home.
It’s crazy because the place I feel most anxious is out for a meal. It’s because I have absolutely no distractions and just have to focus on what people are saying around me. In the past, I have used alcohol to help calm me which makes me realize that it is not a flight or fight situation and that I am okay. Now, I have realized that I need to deal with myself as I will not be drinking alcohol much longer.
After many more deep breaths, I was able to spread a calmness in my body (that or my meds kicked in).
Then I just kept thinking “holy hell. Are all of us just hanging on by a thread?” The more I get together with my friends, the more I am realizing that most of us are struggling and I mean really struggling with our mental health. We try and hide it but it is present and it seems that the women that I surround myself with (strong, intelligent, communicative, independent, brave, beautiful, honest and empathic), keep discussing how we are all trying to hang on but that we may actually need some help.
Then I wondered if we are all like the people in the restaurant – appearing calm and numb when several of us just want to run away?
After brunch, I headed home and spent the rest of the day on my couch, in my pajamas, wrapped up in my favourite blanket. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that life is tough. Fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood are also fucking tough. Like beyond tough. Yes, I know that all of these things are so rewarding and beautiful but they are also tough and full of uncertainty.
The more I go on this whole journey to motherhood, the more I really see that mothers are these incredible beings that don’t even seem human. Somehow they freakin hold it all together but I am starting to wonder, how many of them are in need of help and just trying to hang on?