my war with anxiety
if you’ve been a reader for a while or an in-person friend or in my family or married to me, then you may know that i struggle with anxiety. if you’re just reading…hello, i’m chelsea and i have an incredibly anxious mind, nice to meet you.
i usually attempt to make light of it and for the past few years have done a pretty good job having it under control but if you are my husband or immediate family, then you know how challenging it can be for me.
for instance, i missed out on a trip my grandma offered to take me on to paris when i was 14 because of anxiety. on the monday i got my very first car, i ended up staying home from high school because of the anxiety i felt imagining driving it to school for the first time. i didn’t study abroad in college when i had the chance because of anxiety. i once canceled a job interview because the nerves were too much. those are just a few example of bigger things of the times i lost the war against anxiety.
on a smaller level, i have anxiety picking out what breakfast to eat each morning. sometimes my OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) creeps out and i have to turn the shower off just a right way, or move my toes a certain way or touch that exact spot on that exact chair just exactly. my friendships, relationships and marriage are all affected by anxiety and no one knows that better than my husband. it’s an exhausting, embarrassing and debilitating battle.
i had a very hard time when i moved away from colorado, my home for 22 years, so i could get my masters degree in portland 4 years ago. i sought out counseling because it was affecting my relationships with my then fiance (now, thankfully he’s my husband). it was helpful. i continued to stay on my medication that i had been on since 15.
about 2 years later i felt like i was finally winning over anxiety, the grip loosening- it didn’t always feel like it was strangling me. i wanted to know how i would feel, what i might be like if i got off the medication that had been a part of my chemical make-up for 7 years.
i saw a therapist and a doctor and slowly worked my way down to lower dosages and finally got off it completely. it’s easy to write that sentence but in no way was it easy. i put my husband through a lot during this time and it was incredibly hard for both of us. of course i’ve had my ups and downs, good days and bad days and small attacks to panic attacks since then. i still haven’t taken any medication for anxiety for over 2 years.
fast forward to the quick move we made 2 months ago from the city we made our home, portland, oregon- to the 4th largest city in the country-houston, texas. from living downtown in a rainy city that embraced being ‘green,’ a plethora of coffee shops and brunch joints (pretty much spot on as “portlandia”) to a muggy, ‘no we don’t recycle that’ suburb of texas.
we went from both working at separate non-profits to starting a business together. we are about to embark on some serious traveling for the next 6 months and in case i forgot to mention…traveling gives me…you get one guess…ANXIETY! while we have had a ton of fun here, it’s amazing to be close to my in-laws and it’s definitely the right move for where we are at in our lives…it has definitely stirred up the calm in my mind that had taken me years to carefully construct.
it’s starting to negatively affect my marriage (while i can sure appreciate that this anxious brain of mine kept my ancestors alive many years ago to run away from everything…not too much good comes from anxiety nowadays) and it’s negatively affecting my quality of life. i obviously have to get it back under my control again because it’s exhausting and we alllll know that i don’t function well (if at all) when i’m exhausted.
like i previously said, we started our own business so we have to insure ourselves. i called our insurance company, blue cross blue shield of texas, to see how much a co-pay would be to start seeing a therapist again and here’s how the conversation went:
me: hi, here’s all my insurance info blah blah blah…how much would a co-pay be to see a therapist?
insurance: oh, you don’t have any mental health coverage.
me: um, that’s not good. how much will it be to add that to our plan?
insurance: oh, you can’t do that.
me: yeah, i’m pretty sure i can, i just change plans or you increase what i pay each month so i can have this pretty necessary coverage.
insurance: yeah, the state of texas doesn’t allow individual insurance plans to have mental health coverage.
insurance: ma’am, are you there?
me: yeah, i’m here. thankfully i am here. thankfully my mental health issue isn’t so life threatening that if i don’t see someone right away my life won’t end. thankfully. mental health seems like a pretty basic and essential thing to cover.
insurance: i’m sorry ma’am. once you reach $2,000 then we can start covering it but in the mean time there is no coverage for someone in your situation.
me: (i take a deep breath and choke back tears) i apologize because it is not your fault. you did not create these rules-you are simply letting me know my coverage. i’m going to go. thank you for your time. *click.
then i cried. a lot. i cried because it took so much out of me to pick up the phone and have that conversation with anyone in the first place. i cried because i just want to function close to ‘normally’ again and not lose it every other day/hour/minute. i cried because if someone who was suicidal just had that same conversation and learned they had no benefits to cover what i assumed would be basic coverage, i can’t even imagine how hopeless they might feel because i know i did. i cried because of the stupid stigma attached to mental health even though 1 in 4 adults in the united states have a diagnosable mental disorder. how privileged i have been during the rest of my life to always have affordable access to mental health care.
i eventually pulled myself together enough to tell my husband about this ridiculous finding and he said “it doesn’t matter. that’s what we have savings for. if it costs $150 or $500, it doesn’t matter. your happiness and wellbeing mean more than anything to me.” yeah, he’s a pretty great guy. yeah, i cried some more. so i start the process of going to war against my anxiety by seeing someone tomorrow and even though we have to dip into our savings to do this, he’s right…my happiness and wellbeing are important to me too.
i wanted to write openly and candidly about my war with anxiety because i know people may be struggling with similar things and i want you to know that you aren’t alone. i would also encourage you to seek out resources and don’t keep it bottled up because you also deserve to be happy and healthy. i don’t know about you, but i’m willing to go to battle for my own happiness.
the new wifestyle: your wellbeing often affects more than just yourself. it’s important to get the help you need in order to be a healthy participant in the best life and marriage you can be.
**if you found this post helpful or know someone who might be able to benefit from this, please feel free to share it.**
read one of the follow-up posts HERE, where my husband shares his view point of “our anxiety.”
another article and update now that we’ve moved back to portland and how it’s still affecting our marriage 2 years later is HERE.