If you've read this post, then you know what happened to me and what I'd been struggling with for the past few months. Here's the story of how I cracked the mystery and discovered what actually was the cause of the anxiety that ~legit~ took over my life for the past few months: (Hint - it's probably not what you think.)
Back in October 2014, I was on top of the world. Literally all of my metaphorical ducks were in their metaphorical row. I was getting straight As in all my classes except philosophy (B+, not too shabby!) and my fall wardrobe was on-point. I was really passionate about everything I was studying, and I was involved in extra-circular activities that made me energized and happy. I was even planning on starting my own blog in a few months…. (hayyyy! ~~started from December now we here *casually throws deuces*~~).
So, back to my story, in October, I was in an on-again-off-again relationship where the emotional stress started causing me some serious physical stress… to the point where I needed to see an endocrinologist who told me that I was creating too much stress hormone in my body, which was in effect throwing off the cocktail mix of my other hormones (okay okay fine he didn't say the word "cocktail", he said "combination", lol!!). Unfortunately, when I care about a guy, I will work through every and any problem, even if the healthy choice would be to end a relationship, because I for some reason have wanted to be a devoted, loyal girlfriend and give my whole heart to a guy, even if it means ignoring my own needs… NEWS FLASH TO BROOKE: AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO GIVE YOUR WHOLE HEART TO SOMEONE, YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON YOU ENTER INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH IS ACTUALLY TREATING YOU WITH MUTUAL RESPECT AND KINDNESS, AND ONLY THEN, SHOULD YOU GIVE HIM YOUR WHOLE HEART. To my lovely gentlemen readers, even though you might want to close your eyes for this, please don't because it's a mere fact of life and without it you wouldn't have been born, k? In a nutshell... I was having lady cramps every. single. day. because of the stress causing my hormones to be like LOLZ, LET'S GET WEIRD. That's when I happily started taking birth control, that would say see ya never! to the lady cramps and keep my hormones balanced - or so we thought.
When I first started taking the birth control, I always joked that they were my "happy" pills. Read on for the rest of this paragraph if you think neuroscience and chemistry is cool. If not…. read on anyway, lol!! Hey, you never know when you might need to know this stuff for your own life…! *shrugs* There are two main hormones in the pills: estrogen (which affects happiness/depression) and progesterone (which affects calmness/anxiety). About 30min. after taking the pill, I would feel almost giddy with happiness. It could be raining out, I could have a paper due the next day, and I could have eaten one slice too many of Toll House Pie at dinner at my college's dining hall, and I would still be all smiles, all warm and fuzzy inside. What happened was that my body got so used to this extra "happy" from the estrogen in the pill, that it stopped producing as much "happy" on its own. Eventually, my body was like HEY LOL WHERE U AT? to the "happy" that my body used to produce on its own… this caused a major dip in my overall happiness, because now the only "happy" I was getting was from the pill. Nothin' else. I honestly don't know how else to describe it but it felt like there was a wall of numbness preventing me from feeling like my old self. The joy I now felt was never truly deep. It was much more surface-value, oh-that's-a-good-thing-let-me smile-now robotic kind of happy. Not like the joy I used to feel radiating throughout my entire body, like the way I would laugh so hard that actual tears would spring from my eyes. That was all gone. When I thought of the future, I wasn't necessarily excited about it. It seemed burdensome, like oh I'm graduating next year, better make a Plan A, B, and C (and because I'm hella Type-A, as you probably figured out by now, Plan D, as well ahaha!).
Food stopped tasting as good as it used to (but these recipes still did! Here, here, and here) , and I hardly had any appetite whatsoever. I don't have a set friend "group" [even though I do have friends in general, *hugs all around*] because I'm obvii just basically this bad-ass lone wolf she-does-whatever-she-wants-and-she-wins-at-it type (and by this I mean I get uber lonely at school and I really truly wish I did have a stereotypical group of BFFs and we could like do normal girl things like watch movies and OMG GO TO THE MALL PLZZ and do each others' hair except not mine because mine, much like Miley Cyrus's song, can't be tamed), so I would just go to the dining hall at 4:30pm for dinner when practically nobody would be there and force myself to eat at least something like cucumbers and tortilla chips with salsa and the occasional ice cream bar so I wouldn't lose too much weight (jk too late lost 11 pounds) from things just not tasting vibrant and flavorful like they used to before I started the pill. Eventually I became too anxious to be around people, anyway…
So that progesterone part of the pill I told you about a little earlier, it deals with anxious feelings. The same thing happened - my body stopped producing as much "calm" because of the extra "calm" I was getting by taking the pill each day. Eventually my body got all sassy and was like gurl, plz - if you're already getting all this extra "calm" from that pill, then I'm permanently going on break and not making any "calm" of my own! <----sassy snap implied here~~ So then there was definitely a HUGE HUGE HUGE dip in the amount of calm. Meaning that I could not feel calm. Ever. At all. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and this is not an exaggeration.
All of those ducks I had in a row back in October? Well, fast-forward to April: that on-again-off again relationship ended back in December. A relationship began and ended in February and the way in which I got dumped was honestly traumatic. I've had guys say horrible things to me before, but nothing quite like getting literally screamed at over the phone as the guys lists every. single. thing. that he did not like about you. I should have hung up the phone, but as we all know, I like to be some Miss Loyal-As-A-Golden-Retriver so I -yet again- put aside the healthy choice for me and stayed on the line listening to all of that horribleness. That triggered a LOT of anxiety, on it's own, but what prevented me from bouncing back and doing things to empower myself is that I had no "calm" to help me out. Eventually I realized that I would never, ever want to love a person who could basically shove aside any worth that I have. I realized I deserve somebody who can realize my value as a person and not dehumanize me brutally with his words like that. Then a few weeks later, a different ex-boyfriend who was my first love reached out to me, manipulated me and led me on, and then purposefully called things off to make me feel as badly as he did when I ended things because of his violent angry tendencies and the hurtful things he would say to me when he was mad. I was just stackin' up the heartaches here like pancakes, except, ugh no maple syrup! (Side Note: Then this summer I downloaded Tinder to get my ego back in shape, the logical decision. 138 likes-on-a-picture I uploaded as a "Moment" later, and this girl's mojo is back in action! *insert salsa dance emoji here* Even though I'm the biggest hopeless romantic probably, um, ever, I'm planning on taking a break from relationships for a very long time. I've put aside my health for so long that right now that clearly must take first priority!!!)
Even when I began to start to feel the slightest bit better about the heartaches, the social anxiety I had was still triggered, nonetheless. It got to the point where leaving my dorm room to go to class would mean I'd have to run to the bathroom first to throw up. I couldn't deal with the thought of people talking to me, even looking at me. And that's coming from me!!! Someone who's all friendly and open to conversation and loves meeting new people and is bubbly and outgoing! I would force myself to go to the library, thinking it would help desensitize myself to purposefully put me around people, but my stomach would feel so raw and aching that I would have to leave and go back to my room so I could get into bed. I felt like my grades were going to be absolutely horrible compared to last semester (Side Note: I wound up thankfully making the Dean's Honor's list; although it wasn't High Honors like I made in the fall semester, I was still so proud of myself nonetheless). Then, awful migraines started accompanying the vomiting/throw-uppy feeling. I never miss class, even if I'm sick, but literally my vision would get blurry and it honestly felt like I could feel pounding in my head. I would have gone to class except I figured the fact that I couldn't see well and couldn't keep my head up probably wouldn't be conducive to good note-taking… But the real last straw was when I nailed the two interviews for an incredible internship position at a company that you probably own a flannel shirt and/or boots from (and so does your uncle and you mom and also anyone who's a fan of chopping wood) - but I had to resign from the position. Although my parents didn't wind up disowning me (lol!!!)…. explaining my decision wasn't exactly, let's say, a highlight of my life.
I was at one of the absolute lowest points that I have ever been in, in my entire life. I was so anxious I honestly couldn't do much, except just cry and wonder how did I go from feeling the best I've ever felt in my entire college career in the fall to where I am now, crumpled up beneath the covers? I always have taken pride in my strength but all I was feeling was overwhelming weakness. I had three therapy sessions until I was getting more sass than compassion. The other places I called had absurd waiting lists or just didn't accept my type of health insurance. As sad as it sounds, I was very glad because every time I had to leave my house -to go to a session, or at all- I became Puke-asaurus rex/Puke-ahontus/any other puke-name pun that tickles your fancy!!!
The thing was, I didn't actually think any of this was being caused by the pills. I just thought that I was depressed about getting dumped in such a harsh, horrible way and from the pressures of trying to achieve as much as I did the previous semester. But, one day I remembered that I used to get that giddy, happy feeling about 30min after taking the pill… that was when I realized that it hadn't happened in months. I figured something was off so I googled side effects of the particular type of pill I was taking. I literally started crying happy tears because I knew that there would be hope for me: I found a website that ranked the side effects by how common they were. I saw everything there and to what degree people suffer from it: migraines (mild to severe), depression (severe), anxious and nervousness (I think it said moderate, but this was the most severe, debilitating symptom I had), feeling like have to throw up (it said this should be mild, even though I had it very very badly), vomiting. I called the lady doctor the next day, and he (Hayy now, I see that sassy eyebrow raised! Guys can be obgyn's, too, ya know!) thought it was a very good idea to stop taking them immediately. …I am a new woman now.
I haven't taken the pills since Tuesday, and the change in how I feel is so tremendous it's practically palpable. Although (#sorrynotsorry once again to the guys) lady cramps are a very fun and enjoyable withdrawal symptom that I'm currently enjoying right now *kisses bottle of Advil*, they'll be gone soon. My favorite part of being off the pill? is that food tastes amazing again <333 !!!!!! I raided my pantry for chocolate - a tell-tale sign that I've done something right. That invisible wall I mentioned earlier blocking me from feeling happiness deeply is completely gone! When I inhale and exhale, I can actually feel relaxed from it. I can go to the gym without hyperventilating that I have to be around other people. When I think of what's to come, I know that there are, and will be, great things (and one day an amazing, sweetheart, teddy-bear real mush of a guy <333333) out there for me in my future. Although I still get little pangs of anxiousness, with a few deep breaths it goes away tremendously - something that never could happen before. Baby steps!!! But actually these are more like toddler steps - quicker and more competent. Awwww yeahhh. Toddler steps!!!
What I've taken away from all of this is that I think back to my old self, and I realize I need to say goodbye. After all that I've experienced this year, I will never again take the little lovely things in life for granted, such as having the ability to go to Starbucks<3 without throwing up or feeling like you can't breathe. Life is so incredibly beautiful and amazing and honestly just being able to inhale and exhale itself is a daily miracle. I am so thankful that in a month I should start to feel almost back to normal, and then in three months, everything will (in theory!) be 100% better. I am so thankful that I've gotten my life back. I am so thankful for saying goodbye.
|PCE OUT, ANXIETY!!!1!!!! LAWLZZzZ!|
If you've gotten this far, thank you so much for reading my personal story!! It means the world to me<3