The last time I wrote, it was about the progress I've made. After that time, I took a very large step in driving. I spent a little time each day practicing driving with a friend in the car as my anxiety would kick up whenever I drove over 25 mph. My girlfriend was flying into LA as we had planned a road trip a couple months prior. She didn't want me to do more than I thought I could and offered to fly up to my hometown and just spend our time together there, but I wanted to challenge myself and drove 6 hours alone to the airport and picked her up.
The entire time I drove, I was on edge, but was okay. When I saw her, anxiety washed all over me and my chest tightened, but I tried to breathe it out as we made our way to San Diego. We met some of my friends in a grill to watch some football, but the longer I spent there, the more anxious I got. I had to eventually get up and leave to walk around the block because I felt like I couldn't breathe. One of my friends came out to meet me, she also struggles with anxiety and helped me talk it out.
The rest of our trip, driving always kept me anxious and only when we returned to LA did it become too much and I took another quarter Ativan. We ended up having a wonderful three days there and continued our trip north. I was put to the test a couple days later when we pulled over and walked out to the beach to watch the sunset. During that time, someone came and broke our window stealing her purse and all her documents (she's an international student). We spent two and a half days traveling between Santa Cruz and San Francisco having to collect documents and go to her embassy to get a temporary passport. It was a lot to deal with, but I kept it together pretty okay.
Eventually we got back up to my hometown where she met my family and spent the last couple days together before I took her back to the airport. When I got settled back in my mom's house, anxiety, brain fog, and chest tightness took over and that's actually been pretty standard since then.
I traveled up to Portland for a friend's vow renewal ceremony I was officiating and again was thrown through the wash having to drive 20 miles slipping all over icy roads as Portland was hit with a rare ice storm. The two days i was there, I didn't do much driving while I was there as we rode together to appointments and venues, but I was always short of breath when the car was full and we were on the highway.
I finally returned home to Virginia where I live now for school and being here has been a challenge since I'm back to being on my own without the family and long-time friends I had to carry me through that awful month when I was in my hometown. At the end of last week, I scheduled a therapy appointment with the school counseling center and met with a doctor. After listening to me, he was very empathetic and helpful. He suggested 10mg daily Celexa, an anti-depressant he says is very good at managing general anxiety disorder. I am open to taking medications because I know I need help, but wanted to try the routine I have going with therapy right now and see how that goes and he agreed.
So this is my new normal, and I feel okay about it. I get anxiety pretty much every day and can last an hour, but as long as four hours or so which makes it hard to focus. It is no where near as bad as it ones during my initial crash, so I can appreciate that. I survived a 10-day road trip with my girl. I do yoga every morning with green tea which helps ground me for the first half of the day. I'm listening to my body more, have been able to talk more openly about mental health with the boys in my program which has started some good conversation I hope develops into a support group I think our graduate school is really lacking.
Since returning to Virginia, turning my mind off to go to sleep has been a real struggle despite not drinking coffee anymore. I've been averaging ~6 hours of sleep a night which is not enough. Seeing my colleagues and classmates again, it's been difficult to slide back into my "old" personality before I snapped, but I'm trying to. Doing small tasks makes me feel overwhelmed; this morning I was filling out the claim form for the car rental that was broken in and my chest was tight the whole time and while I was studying on Sunday, my chest hurt and I felt overwhelmed despite it being pretty basic introductory chapters. I remedied it by going out and walking through the neighborhood while I read and that helped a lot.
I have my therapy session in a couple days and will update how that goes then. For everyone struggling with anxiety and feel like you're losing your mind, talk to everyone and anyone that will listen. I've been so surprised the number of people I've known for years and years who have experienced the same exact thing as me and the people I've been getting to know here who have felt the same. It feels so much better to know you're not alone, which you're not. God bless.