One night, when I was driving home with my husband, I thought I saw someone run out in front of me.
I hit the brakes to try to keep from hitting this person.
I honestly don’t remember much about that incident, other than I was scared to death of hitting someone. There was no one there; my husband assured me. Right then, I knew I needed help.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had anxiety. At one point in my childhood, I felt what would become familiar pressure in my chest.
What is this pressure, you might ask? It feels like someone is sitting on my chest. I just can’t take a big enough breath. I can’t make it go away. I continue to ruminate on things so I can’t think of anything else. I can’t make it go away.
Through middle school and high school, any time things would become overwhelming, that pressure would return. When there was too much homework, or I was worried my cat was going to die, there was that pressure.
In college, working part-time and going to school full-time brought even more stress to do well. There was that pressure.
I married my husband shortly after I graduated from college, and he would do his best to help me through these anxiety-inducing situations. He would try to tell me that everything would be alright. Asking me what was going on. Asking me if there was anything he could do to help. He could usually tell I was stressed out because I would get short-tempered, and get frustrated easily. There was that pressure.
Despite my husband’s help, my anxiety became even worse when I had a full-time job at a local hospital. I made a particular mistake and I was punished severely. They gave me a final write-up and told me if I messed up again, I’d be gone. For years after that incident, I thought I was going to get fired. I looked for a new job to get me out of that situation. My anxiety and the pressure somehow changed into crying all the time.
Every little thing would set me off. The yogurt container fell out of the fridge and broke open, and I’d start crying. I stubbed my toe, I’d start crying—more than usual for someone stubbing their toe. Someone said something critical of me, I’d start crying. I would even yell at my husband, getting mad for no particular reason. My emotions were extremely volatile.
Eventually, my current company reached out to me for a job. I was so grateful to get out of the job at the hospital, and I was using the knowledge I picked up there. About five to six months into the new job, things took a downturn—my company wasn’t getting enough interest in the HIPAA risk assessments I’d been hired to conduct. They asked me if I wanted to try sales. I didn’t feel like I had an option. It felt like I would lose my job if I didn’t say yes, though they never outright said that. I also didn’t know how to be a salesperson and didn’t want to be the sleazy car salesman type.
The stress got so much worse—trying to make quotas, not understanding how to sell or what I was doing wrong. The constant fear that I was going to get fired if I couldn’t make quotas, and then what I would do weighed down on me. I’d lash out at my husband even more. He was becoming fed up because he didn’t know what to do to help me.
I’d cry and cry, and yell and scream. It would only ease up if I got a lot of sales, but the next month I’d be at square one, once again trying to make sales.
After my hallucination of someone running in front of my car, I started doing research and discovered that when someone is overly stressed, they can start hallucinating things. I was partially happy to read that, as I truly thought I was going crazy. I was worried I might be becoming schizophrenic.
I set up an appointment with my doctor and we started on the long road to finding a medication that would work for me. It wasn’t easy, and after changing to a new doctor who specialized in psychiatric medicine, who my regular doctor recommended, we eventually found something.
I’m happy to say that I’m now doing much better. My emotions are far less volatile and I can roll with the punches pretty well. Also, my sales are great every month.
My husband later told me that if I hadn’t figured this out, he would have left me because he was hitting the end of his rope. I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner, and that it took such a toll on him. I’m sorry that I made him feel useless when he wasn’t able to help me. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to show him the affection he needed, while I was so absorbed in my stress.
Now we can move forward and work on repairing our relationship.
We spend more quality time together and we can have conversations that don’t revolve around my work and what I’m not doing right. I’ve been able to calm my emotions, and I don’t yell at him as often as I used to. It’s more like feistily telling him what is frustrating me.
I’ve found my voice, so I can tell him exactly what I think, instead of bottling everything up and then lashing out when the stress became too much. I’m looking forward to another 12 years together, and then some.
For the people who are not sure if they should try medication for depression or anxiety, I would recommend it, especially if it is severely affecting your life.
It has changed my world and my husband’s.