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Anxiety: Part Two of a Zillion

In case you missed it, here is Part One.

Our oldest child Jake VanDyck was born in September of 2000, when I was 22 years old. I went into labour with him when I was only 30 weeks pregnant so I was hospitalized for a week and put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy and of course, Jake ended up arriving a week after his due date.

The birth went smoothly, and everyone was so excited for our new addition. I couldn’t stop staring at his little face–I was so in love. I had gained 30 lb during my pregnancy, and had lost over 20 lb by the time I came home from the hospital. My boobs were huge, my belly was squishy, and my heart was full.

Then? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep because I knew that in 2-3 hours I would need to get up to nurse Jake and so my mind and body wouldn’t settle. I stayed awake until the next feeding, thinking I would for sure fall asleep after that one.

I didn’t. I stayed awake until the next one. And the next. And the next. I was awake for an entire weekend, pale and cold with anxiety levels so high that I felt like I was dying. My skin was cool and damp, and I had dropped 5 lb in three days.

I brought Jake to his checkup and my doctor took one look at me and made a phone call to the Reproductive Psychiatry Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, and got me an emergency appointment.

My visit with the Psychiatrist went well. I was desperate for relief, and she wrote me a prescription for Ativan (short-term immediate relief from panic attacks) and Paxil (an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication geared toward people with anxiety and OCD). It took a while for the Paxil to make a difference (on average, the first week of side effects are horrible but then just as they start to go away, the benefits of the medication start kicking in at around 3-4 weeks). I hung in there and only took an Ativan when I really needed it (but get this… I was too anxious to take the Ativan. HA!).

My weight was below my pre-pregnancy weight with all of this stress, but once my medication started to work I began to enjoy food again and my appetite leveled out. I so desperately needed the relief that the Paxil gave me, that I didn’t even care about the whole medication thing, or the stigma attached to it. I couldn’t give a shit. I needed it so damn bad.

I felt like Suzy again. I smiled more. I laughed my big laugh. I held Jake closer, breathed him in deeper, loved him larger. I was back. And then of course, I got pregnant with Freddy.

Has anyone else been on anti-depressants? What kind?

I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, only anxiety but anti-depressants work on both.

Are you a stress-eater or a stress-starver?

I can’t eat when I’m stressed out. The only thing I can choke down when I’m off-my-face stressed out are McDonald’s cheeseburgers. I wish I was kidding.


{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Jen September 16, 2015, 8:52 pm

    I actually go either way. Sometimes I just eat ALL THE FOOD, and other times I can’t even and it’s all ash in my mouth. True story – whenever I have the stomach flu I know I’m better when all I can think about eating is a McDonalds cheeseburger. Every time.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2015, 9:47 pm

      Well, we must be twins. I probably eat McDonalds cheeseburgers once or twice a year. NO JOKES. But they’re the only thing I can stomach if I’m feeling out of sorts.

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine September 17, 2015, 2:19 am

    It depends for me…when I am stressed with stuff I am avoiding I will eat more, but when its more of an overall emotional stress that I can’t avoid or just being super busy I sometimes lose my appetite.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 7:51 am

      The avoiding stress tactics are real. I can see how eating would be a good distraction. I use anything and everything to distract me from the real stress. I’ll even make up NEW stress to distract me. I’m super smart that way.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe September 17, 2015, 3:55 am

    I tend to not feel hungry, but once I start, I am DONE. And everything goes in. I’ve been on both Prozac (anti-depressant) and Effexor (which I’m currently on, which works on both depression and anxiety). I used to get anxiety attacks watching movies, especially. It is part of the reason that I am terrified of asteroids/black holes/armageddon, monkeys, and several other things.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 7:53 am

      Funny that you mention the movie anxiety thing. I remember being a teenager and getting panicky in movie theatres. I think it was all the overwhelming stimulation from the noise, the sights, and just feeling like I was stuck in there.

  • Gretchen September 17, 2015, 4:55 am

    Just want to say thanks for sharing all these stories with us 🙂 Love learning more about Suzy..the good, the bad, and the beautiful!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 7:53 am

      Awe, thanks Gretchen! You’re so sweet. 🙂

  • Jamie September 17, 2015, 7:57 am

    I definitely go back and forth on stress eating… sometimes I do when I’m overwhelmed, but if I stay busy, I often times forget to eat. I’ve been on a few anti-depressants for depression and anxiety and they seem to really work well!!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 11:06 am

      I’m just so glad we have medicine out there that helps with this stuff. It’s weird though, in that we can’t see it like we can a broken bone or a burn. And I find it fascinating that the people close to us can see when we need it before we do, and also see how it helps us before we ourselves really notice a difference.

  • Maddie @ Dixie Runs September 17, 2015, 8:05 am

    I’ve never suffered from depression, but I have had anxiety for years. I was also diagnosed with an OCD type of anxiety, so I was put on anti-depressants to help cope with the symptoms. It really helped a lot, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I was taking anti-depressants, so I stopped taking them and tried about 5 other anxiety medications until I decided daily medication wasn’t the answer for me. I started talking to a counselor instead and now I only have medicine for panic attacks and certain anxiety-inducing situations, which thankfully are pretty rare! Running and talking it out have been the best medications for me.. Oh and I’m a stress EATER for sure.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 11:05 am

      Running and talking it out have worked for me too. The medication was needed at the time just to give me some relief and also to give me the mental strength to go to counseling and dig deep without having the therapy send me into an abyss.

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run September 17, 2015, 9:23 am

    I am glad you were able to find medication and have some relief for a little bit! When I am really stressed I do lose my appetite but when it comes back, it comes back like crazy. I almost went a whole weekend without eating once when Paul was in the hospital and then when I found out he was in the clear I hate a 20 piece nugget from Wendy’s! It was soooo good.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 11:04 am

      I think that’s how I am too. Once the storm passes, it’s like LOOK OUT, or I’ll eat you.

  • Heather@hungryforbalance September 17, 2015, 10:18 am

    I was on Paxil and Effexor at different times when I was a teenager and in my early 20’s. I stopped taking the Effexor when my husband and I wanted to get pregnant. I have had some serious post-partum depression and anxiety that I think would have been helped by the meds.
    I am a stress eater and tend to crave sweets BIG TIME.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 11:03 am

      There’s just something about the hurricane of hormones brought on by babies that can really trigger any type of underlying issues.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes September 17, 2015, 10:28 am

    I had a nasty bout of PMDD during the last 18 months of college (hello, stress) even though I take the pill for my endometroisis and only got four periods a year, so my doctor put me on Sarafem – even though I didn’t have depression, it helped control the insane weepies I got with my period. I stopped taking the Sarafem when the PMDD went away, so I was only on it for a year or two. Now I just don’t get periods, at all, but that’s because my endo is a bitch.
    I’m really glad you were able to find medication and relief! The stigma surrounding those is harsh and unjustified, especially for postpartum issues.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 17, 2015, 11:03 am

      Thanks for telling me your story! I know of someone who struggles with PMDD and takes Celexa for it. I’m sorry you deal with endometriosis. I’ve heard it’s incredibly painful. NOT COOL.

  • Allison September 18, 2015, 7:43 am

    I have never been on any kind of meds for things like this before but I can see the benefit – I think I mentioned that I have a friend that is going through a really hard time with anxiety right now. Her’s is driving related! I’ve been sending her your blog posts because he hasn’t wanted to go and talk to someone, and she is afraid of being on meds.

    When I do get upset or stressed, I am hands down a stress eater. Love to eat my feelings. All of my healthy eating habits go right out the window!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 18, 2015, 7:50 am

      The one thing she needs to keep in mind is that avoidance breeds anxiety. I made a list of all the things I was afraid of (I made a list that took up literally pages of fears) and then one by one I went through them and faced them and just DOING it detonated the fears. Just like that, they fizzled out. If she’s scared of driving, she needs to drive. And drive some more. And more. And more and more and more and more.

  • Lauren @ ihadabiglunch September 18, 2015, 9:17 am

    I know that “oh my god i’m going to die” feeling. It is the ABSOLUTE. WORST. I certainly hope I have it under control before I have kids because I can only imagine how much stress that adds to your life. Thank goodness you had a proactive doctor and that the medication helped so much! I have anti-anxiety medication in case of an attack but I rarely take it. I don’t want to become dependent on it. Therapy and journaling is what helps me, and thank goodness it does.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 18, 2015, 10:56 am

      Yay! It’s so important to find an outlet but it’s also so great to have the meds as a backup in case we can’t deal. Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to chillax is knowing that I have help right there if I need it.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets September 20, 2015, 8:56 am

    I’ve never been on any kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication although I have taken percocets for fun. I vomited multiple times, so the jokes on me.

    I will say I’ve been to a psychologist before and I have intentions to go to another soon so surely that counts for something.

    I love reading your story.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 20, 2015, 1:31 pm

      One of my closest friends lost her husband to a perc addiction. I’m so glad your body puked. I wish I knew you back then, and I wish I lived close by so I could hold your hair and then after, hold you. xo Psychologists are great! We could all use one. A hot one would be even better.

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