I’ve always been an anxious person. Long before Isaac, pregnancy or any of this, I was always worried about bad things happening. I have vague memories of calling my dad’s carphone over and over again (before they had handheld cell phones) when my parents were at all late coming home. Something must have happened to them, I’d think to myself. In my junior year of high school, I survived a pretty horrible car accident. Nearly a decade later I would be driving and suddenly be convinced that I was about to be hit by another car. I did see someone for this, and while I would still worry about things periodically, the worst of my anxiety was managed.
Needless to say, pregnancy exacerbated my anxiety. The internet is a scary place for a pregnant woman prone to anxiety, such as I was. Early on I was convinced I had an ectopic pregnancy or some other complication. Finally, around week 20, I started to calm down. I could do this. My body was doing this. My biggest anxiety at 31.5 weeks pregnant was that I wasn’t going to finish the nursery in time. Obviously, there were things I could more validly have worried about.
Losing Isaac and the trauma of giving birth to him under life-threatening circumstances has reignited my anxiety. That’s perhaps an understatement. I’ve been told it’s normal to be anxious after such an experience, and it does make sense. However, it is pretty paralyzing. A little less than two weeks after losing Isaac, my uncle’s arrival at the lake house triggered a panic attack. Facing new people (new meaning those people who last saw me happy and pregnant) is pretty terrifying to me still.
I also find myself particularly attached to my husband. I didn’t think anything of it until it was a “symptom” I could check off on a list at the grief specialist yesterday. I’m nervous with my husband back at work. I worry more than ever before about my husband’s safety on the drive back from work (he does spend nearly 3 hours a day commuting).
Today, I walked outside in the sweltering heat to call our 8-month-old Golden Retriever, Mowgli, back for his lunch. We live at the back of a 12-acre lot, so this can be a difficult task. We have a particular whistle that we do to get Mowgli to come running. However, even after walking over to my parents’ house whistling the whole way, I didn’t hear the tell-tale sound of Mowgli’s tags. The painters working over there hadn’t seen him. He wasn’t in my parents’ house. The guy, who maintains the property and usually can be seen with the puppy in tow, wasn’t even here. I quickly started to panic. My husband wasn’t here, my parents are away, and my dog was missing. I spent an entire half hour imagining the worst. Mowgli had chased someone down the driveway. Mowgli had run through the invisible fence. Something was wrong. I imagined someone calling and telling me there had been an accident. I imagined I’d never see our baby dog again.
I found him. He’d gotten himself trapped in the meadow after following the gardeners down through a gate that had ultimately been closed. He was sitting outside the fence crying, waiting for me to find him.
I don’t have some magical way to overcome the anxiety. The hospital doctor gave me anxiety medication, but those drugs are addictive, and I only use them when I’m in an uncontrollable downward spiral. I understand why I am anxious and know I am not alone in feeling this way. I also know that anxiety is just a feeling, and is something I can overcome. Wish me luck.