2019 has been an extremely long year for me, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome 2020. As I scroll through Instagram today, I am taking in all of these different people, celebrating all of their accomplishments and victories from this past year. While I am so happy that these people have enjoyed the past 12 months, this trend has not been true for me. In this post, I’ll be reflecting on this past year and discussing my hopes for 2020.
I hope everyone has enjoyed their holiday season! I haven’t posted in a little while due to the craziness of the past week and a half. My sisters both caught a stomach virus and my laptop was in my bedroom, the very place my oldest sister was sleeping for a few days. I’ve been sleeping downstairs on the couch, scared to death to go upstairs (take note of my emetophobia). Christmas was moved to December 28th for our family, but I’m still a nervous wreck today, a week after my sister got sick. Anyway, I was too nervous to grab my laptop from my room, thus the reason for not posting in a while.
Okay, now let’s talk about my year. Really, the worst part of my year started in July, but I’ll start in January.
In January, my anxiety was recovering from the previous few months of panic attacks. I had just finished up exposure therapy, and my OCD had never been better. The only stressful part of January was when my mom went to Disney World with my sister for her senior trip, while I stayed with my dad at home. I managed to get through the week with a lot of anxiety, but no panic attacks!
February was a pretty good month for me. my anxiety was there, but not crippling. I attended Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine for people with special needs for the second year, and had so much fun volunteering as a “buddy.”
In March, my anxiety was okay, but I started having some trouble with “friends.” I managed to go to prom (yes, homeschoolers have prom), though I had to take some medicine beforehand. I also started volunteering at a place that takes care of disabled adults during the day called Exceptional Foundation. In addition, I began serving in my church’s special needs children’s church.
April was great! Anxiety was still good, and I was enjoying my volunteer work.
In May, my anxiety was decent. Sort of off and on. I was still having issues with friends who weren’t helping my mental health at all.
Little did I know, June would be my last “good” month for a while. I was hired at Exceptional Foundation for the summer. I was helping with field trips and activities and I was absolutely loving it! My passion for special needs people grew every day.
July is when everything went south. My family and I went to the beach, where they struggled to get out of the strong undertow and back to land, while I was watching and praying from the shore. The week after that, my sister got into a car accident. It wasn’t too serious, but she totaled her car and had to receive chiropractic treatments for whiplash. The next week, we had to put my 15-year-old dog to sleep, due to heart disease and cancer. She was my best friend, and I was the last person to hug her before she fell asleep for the last time. All of these traumatic events led to my panic attacks coming back, and me having to stop the summer job I dearly loved 2 weeks early. July of 2019 was the worst month of my life, and I ended up having to seek psychiatric help for my anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
My severe anxiety persisted into August. My first psychiatrist appointment went well. My Zoloft was increased my 50mg and I was given klonopin and vistaril. The only problem was while my anxiety had let up during the Spring, I booked concert tickets to see Why Don’t We, a boy band, 4 hours away from home. I was freaking out and almost canceled more times than I can count. I was in pure misery, having panic attack after panic attack, anticipating this concert. I remember crying to my mother a couple of days prior, that I couldn’t do it. That I couldn’t do anything anymore and it would be better if I just died. I ended up having to take a LOT of klonopin and vistaril just to get to the hotel. I ended up almost vomiting from anxiety, but with earplugs and klonopin in my bag, I made it to the concert! And I had fun in the moments in between being overwhelmed!
The trend continued into September. Panic attacks were controlling my life, and I quickly became agoraphobic. I started therapy with a woman who didn’t know what she was doing and who criticized homeschooling during our sessions. The 150mg of Zoloft didn’t do anything, so during my September psychiatry appointment, I was switched to Lexapro. My withdrawal from Zoloft was very severe, and on top of that, I had a bad reaction to Lexapro. I lied on the couch all day for a week and a half barely able to move, feeling more anxious than ever. We soon realized we needed to call the psychiatrist, and she decided to switch me to Prozac.
I began taking Prozac, and within a few days, I could feel my anxiety and depression easing up! I had my monthly appointment with my psychiatrist and told her all was going well. I was thrilled to finally have a break from this hell. Then I increased my dose by 5mg. Mistake! That made me worse. I was so depressed and anxious I honestly wanted to die with a passion. I couldn’t attend birthday parties, friend meetups, or Halloween celebrations. My doctor told me to reduce my dose, and I was back to square one. The big problem? I didn’t have another appointment until January 2020.
November started and my mother managed to book an appointment for December 27th with my psychiatrist. I started stressing about my drivers’ test, if I would ever be able to go to college or have a career, and if I would ever even get better. One of my loved ones had surgery the day before Thanksgiving, and I spent Thanksgiving day in a panic, unable to enjoy our company. A good part of November, however, was that I dropped toxic friendships!
December 1st was my 16th birthday, and I was unable to get my license because of my awful anxiety. I also developed a sinus infection. So, I spent my birthday with severe anxiety, a full day of depression, and a splitting headache that continued for about 2 weeks. Needless to say, I couldn’t celebrate that day. So, I celebrated Tuesday, after an appointment with my old therapist. Thank God I’m seeing my old therapist again! On December 21st, my sister vomited. On December 24th, my other sister vomited. This is relevant because, as you may know, I have severe emetophobia (phobia of vomiting). This past week has caused me a ton of anxiety, anticipating getting sick. I managed to make it to my psychiatry appointment on the 27th, and my doctor prescribed me Cymbalta. I am extremely nervous about trying an SNRI, considering I’ve been on SSRI’s for half of my life, and I made the mistake of googling the medication. We decided to move our Christmas celebrations to the 28th. It is currently New Year’s Eve, and I still refuse to go upstairs (much less my bedroom). My hands are so dry from washing them, and I’ve lost 7 pounds from not eating. Nevertheless, our Christmas was enjoyable, no matter how stressful, and I am currently getting off of Prozac and adjusting to Cymbalta.
So, since July, I’ve been living in a pit of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Every day is a struggle, and I started to lose hope many times throughout the past 6 months. This leads to me to my hopes for 2020.
Many people are excited for a new decade, for fireworks and partying and drinking. I am excited for 2020 for one main reason: it’s not 2019. I’m ready for this year to be in the past. I want it to be over. My hopes for 2020 are simple. I want to find the right medication, make progress in therapy, continue this blog, and learn to trust God through everything.
Thanks for reading!
You might have read this post and thought “She’s exaggerating.” Or “Doesn’t sound that bad to me.” But remember: when you can’t enjoy a single day for months because of crippling anxiety, it feels detrimental. When you can’t go to the grocery store or mall without heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, nausea, tingling in your limbs, crying, and a feeling of absolute doom looming over your head, it can get depressing, okay? I’ve switched medications 3 times this year, had more panic attacks than I can count, had to take a lot of klonopin and vistaril, lost hope, and gained hope only to lose it again. I lost my dog and developed new fears of death. I have cried and had breakdowns and wanted to die. This year has broken me. But, I have hope for 2020. I am choosing to believe that I will make progress this upcoming year, and I hope you do, too.
Happy New Year,
Facebook group: The Anxious Teens Of America