Anxiety: worrying about being worried.

As a quick side note, before delving into something a bit more heavy, I just want to use this forum to congratulate my baby sister in her recent wedding to her beloved. It was a joyous event with much drinking, dancing, and frivolity, and the two of them had never looked happier. Love you, sister!

And to show you the transformation, here’s a “Before” pic:

(Don’t kill me.) (This is your own fault for making that resentful face at me.)

And after!

Gorgeous, right?!

Anyway.

So anxiety! It has been my companion for probably about the past five years, give or take. Most likely, it’s been there for longer than I’m willing to admit, but it has cropped up during the more trying times.

Superfun symptoms: dull chest pain, racing heart, a feeling of imminent doom, and the knowledge that zombies can and *WILL* attack me from under my bed, around the side of my apartment building, and worst of all, lurking behind the shower curtain in my guest bathroom. Okay, so maybe not so much “zombies” per se, but more like death, destruction, end-of-the-world, apocalyptic-type stuff.

The worst part? Anxiety just seems to hit mainly when I’m alone. And quite unfortunately, I sleep alone 3 nights a week due to both my husband and my work schedules.

I’ve tried turning on our ancient TV in the bedroom, but it seems that I just end up waking up from the sonic, high-pitched “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” noise radiating from it. I’ve tried letting the dogs sleep in bed with me, but they both snore, and how depressing is it to replace your husband with your dogs?! I’ve tried setting a gentle rain sound on my iPhone, and plugging that up to my iHome to play softly all night…. which, while somewhat comforting, is nothing in comparison to the sonic boom of my heart pounding in my ears. And throughout all of these different tactics, I’ve tried “meditative breathing”, which just flat out doesn’t work.

I’ve tried anti-anxiety meds before, which just made my worst nightmare a reality: I became a zombie. Someone without feelings, without any ups and downs, and someone who lost any creative juices. I had no desire to do anything but sit on the couch, sit in the car, sit on a bus, a plane, a bench…. you get the picture. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone, engage in anything, feel anything.

Working out does seem to help temporarily, but the real onset of anxiety seems to crop up right as I’m trying to go to bed. How does one run on the treadmill while sleeping, I ask you? (I feel like an invention like that could make me millions, I tell you, and not just for us anxiety sufferers.)

Relationship to PCOS? Women with PCOS almost always have heightened responses to stress, including full-blown anxiety and depression. While I don’t consider myself to be depressed, my response to stressful stimuli has always been a bit “strong”. My mother has always called me a “worry wart”. (What does that even MEAN?! Can I see somebody for that?!!?)

I am very lucky in that, for the majority of the time, I am a happy, healthy, emotionally sound woman who doesn’t feel anxious or upset. I like to bake, shop, bake, read, and bake! But there are definitely moments in life where I feel paralyzed in my own skin, which is extremely frightening.

Have you ever had one of those paralyzing moments of fear? How did you bring yourself back to reality?

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Goodbye, beloved stimulants.

Ohhhhhh Coffee.

You were with me through my high school years, when gas was $1.00 a gallon. You stood by my side through all-nighters in college, and then held me in one piece when I became a working stiff.

Ohhhhh cigarettes.

You are the asshat/bad boy of the stimulant world. You were with me to make me think I was feeling better through a rough breakup, but you were the closest I’ve ever been to an abusive relationship. You made me feel horrible, but then would apologize and tell me you were sorry, and reel me back in with a single gas station rose and a stinky, yellow-stained smile.

To bring this into the realm of infertility, I’ll tell you what NOT to do, so you will hopefully never do the same thing.

If you are on fertility meds that already mess with your system in a HARDCORE way, (believing you will spontaneously combust if you do not continue singing Dashboard Confessionals songs at the top of your lungs I think is a bit ‘invasive’), do not overload yourself with stimulants. You may think having a smoke will make you feel better, but, in fact, it just makes your hormone-induced crazy go on overload. And you know what would make things even worse? Adding a cup of strong-brewed coffee to that equation.

The worst of these occasions resulted in me rushing to the Emergency Room after a night of convincing myself I was having a heart attack. The combination of my meds, which increased my anxiety FIVE FOLD, and the added stimulants made me feel like I was in the middle of the Tell-Tale Heart; I felt like my heart was beating so loud that my ears would explode. Thankfully, when I arrived, they strapped me to a bunch of sticky monitors, and said, “Um…. you’re nuts. BP is 120/78, and your pulse is around 75. Oh, and this pricey EKG we took? It’s beautiful!”

I’m smiling a little now, thinking about this hopped-up, crazed, psycho version of myself that always felt a little like I’d been electrocuted. But seriously…. if you’re fighting infertility, cut out all the stimulants you can, within reason.  The synthetic versions of the hormones you’ll start taking, particularly if you have PCOS, don’t play nice with caffeine or nicotine. Be kind to your body, even if it *is* being a bit of a stubborn ass at the moment!

I’m very lucky to have a phenomenal husband who has eased me out of my own destruction. I quit smoking about 3 months ago, right after I left the ER that day. And I had to learn about quitting the caffeine the hard way after having a few more “heart attacks” like the first one before officially cutting out caffeine.

Anybody else have resolutions to quit these nasties, even if you’re not struggling with baby makin’?

 

Baking and Belly Fat.

Something you should know about me, guests.

I love to cook. I love to bake, braise, and brine. I dive into simmering and sauteing. The idea of being paid to cook is sincerely the most gratifying idea of which I can possibly conceive, and my two heroes are Julia Child and Paula Deen.

However, there’s this problem that comes along with that. When you love to cook, you tend to despise the idea of taking “healthful” shortcuts. Hence…. my belly.

At this time of the year, I always try to put my goals into fresh perspective, and evaluate the success/failure of my past year’s goals. There are certain goals that I achieved with flying colors, (like quitting smoking…. I mean seriously, why did I ever even start?!). But each year,  my weight loss goals end up taking a detour.

Last year, I managed to take off about ten pounds, and keep them off without much issue. I started working out fairly regularly, doing the “Couch to 5K” program on my treadmill at home, and there wasn’t a single workout that I didn’t rave about afterwards. I felt like I could conquer the world after each workout! So, whether I lose large amounts of weight or not, I will continue to run, just because it makes me feel so darn good.

To add insult to chubby injury, we can add PCOS to this mix. I discussed some of the side effects of PCOS in the last post, one of which was more difficulty when attempting weight loss. For women with PCOS, the process of losing weight is far more difficult than women with normal insulin and hormone levels. Your body clings to every little bit of fat you have, and you also have to be very careful to take in enough calories to keep your bod from going into starvation mode. I’m on a medication to assist with my insulin resistance, and thank God that I am, because there have been days where I’m off it, and it seems that I just turn into a psycho, chubby, sugar-obsessed robot. But I digress.

The main point here is that it is a difficult thing to lose mass amounts of weight when you have PCOS, and even more so when you love to cook. Where is the balance? Do I just learn to love to cook healthier foods? Do I devote my time to finding some way to dress up crappy tasting food? Either way, whether you are fighting the infertility battle or are just trying to lose a few pounds, perhaps it’s time to start putting what I put into my mouth into the forefront of my mind.

I have a feeling the “dressing up” of that healthy food would involve too much heavy cream and butter.  🙂