Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts I think

Back when I still wandered the urine-scented walls of a nursing home as my primary means of employment, I took a part-time job working with the Crisis Team in the Emergency Room one night a week. It wasn't such a bad gig, really. Not unlike an IHOP or Village Inn, the ER has a kind of relaxed, groovy sort of vibe in the middle of the night. There's some sort of camaraderie between a bunch of people up in the middle of the night, particularly when you're never sure what crazy thing could be rolling through the ambulance bay doors any minute. (And trust me. No amount of imagination or experience can accurately predict that sort of crazy.) It gave me the opportunity to see things I had only learned about in graduate school: hallucinations, overdoses, depression, and self-mutilation. Oh yeah, and anxiety.

In my patients, sure. There was plenty of anxiety there. But also, for the first time in my life, in me. Not I'm-taking-a-test-I-haven't-studied-enough-for anxiety or even I'm-so-scared-I-have-nervous-neck-rash anxiety. Waiting at home for that pager to start screeching turned me into someone I didn't recognize. I was nauseated and mean and tearful and restless. I paced and tossed and turned and made my husband dread Wednesdays as much as I did (almost).

And then the voices in my head started. (Luckily, not the kind that land you in the ER in the middle of the night talking to an over-eager crisis worker.)

You're a social worker, for heaven's sake! they said. You can fix this. This is what you do.

So I exercised. And went for a walk. And watched television and read and took a bath and did yoga and cried and held in my tears and prayed. Over and over I prayed. And remained nauseated and mean and tearful and restless.

Luckily, thankfully, wonderfully, and oh-so-blessedly, I had a solution. A way to make it stop. I quit. It was the right decision for me and for my family. And for me, luckily, thankfully, wonderfully, and oh-so-blessedly, the gripping anxiety has not returned. I am left healthy and whole and as "normal" as I can hope to be. The only lasting effect is a greater measure of compassion for people who are not able to amputate their anxiety as easily as I was.

It is with these thoughts bouncing around in my head like popcorn in a microwave that I enter the 26th week of Floyd's gestational life. And I hate popcorn.

I did not understand that "
pray always" could be a literal mandate. Because I take my vitamins and go to my appointments and eat my vegetables and wear my seatbelt and then the voices in my heart start.

Please bless the baby is ok. Please bless her to grow. Please bless her to move like that again and always. Please bless. Please?

And then- and THEN! (Isn't this post over, you beg? No. Sorry.)

And then I remember that someday she will come out. And that's good and beautiful and terrifying. And then there's SIDS and kidnappers and earthquakes and fires and bears and sharks and mean children and sharp things to poke and small things to swallow and swine flu to catch.

Floyd, Mama has a flicker of that anxiety left. Just so she can remember.

Please bless.

How do you cope? With babies or work or unemployment or illness or life? What works for you?


Jessica said...

Perhaps unhealthy, but I cope by being blissfully ignorant. I purposely ignore and refuse to recognize all those horrible things. I live as if life will always work out. Because if I don't, I would never leave my bed. I would stay under the covers crying and never let anyone I love leave my sight.

You're the social worker - how crazy does that make me?

Liv said...

Let's see. I cope with life by having regular freakouts. And by taking happy pills! And by playing with kids at church. And by walking the dog. And by writing.

I think you'll do great with this whole baby thing. I'd better get an invite to a shower so I can buy darling girl clothes :)

Shopping helps me cope too.

Melinda said...

Ugh. I'm impressed you've thought that far ahead, Kris! I was also terrified for E to come because it's a messed up world we live in, but you can only shelter them so much I guess. You just have to live your life and do your very best. And Heavenly Father does look out for them! You'll be a great mom. (But the praying voice in your head never stops. At least it hasn't for me yet.)

MaKinzy said...

I do exactly what you've done. I exercise, pray, cry, read, exercise, pray, cry, read. I've sure been running a lot...only my partner nowadays is about 20 years older than last year's partner (remember our running days?!).
Oh and lucky for me, this new running partner, well he breathes louder than I so it makes my panting seem less apparent. I miss our runs/walks. Hope you guys are doing good!

Christy and Kevin said...

Wow, what a coincidence....I was a crisis worker full time and went to nights with the pager after Alex was born. I covered 4 counties hospitals and sheriffs departments...it was intense. Luckily it was my second job with a pager at nights so I was less stressed...that first job made me crazy anxious also! Good choice to quit.
About the other stresses of parenting...you will feel that till the day they die I hear...and you have only just scratched the surface of things to worry about. I recommend not being a social worker and mom at the same time-- you learn too many things to worry about seeing clients and their crazy lives. Just do your best and trust in the Lord. We have great promises of peace from Him for doing our best. That's great coping! Good luckand please call if you ever need a friend.

Alice said...

Anxiety? Not me. What are you thinking?

Ironically I was just thinking about writing a similar post today--too bad I don't have time. Except my post would have been less about babies and more about that damn pager! Or work, being a new kid, serial killers, rapists, and the boogie man :) This week seems to have tipped my anxiety scale farther than it has in a long time. But I will get through it some how. Right? I need therapy!

And just in case you think because I haven't birthed (or grown in your case) a little babe don't think I don't worry about the babies and other living things around me. My family lovingly refers to me as Cautious Cathy. And I think I recently overheard my brother-in-law say "don't tell Alice that, she'll just be worried".

Sheesh, I told you I had a post coming :) I will shut it for now though.