Fall is here! It’s my favorite time of year yet I feel like I haven’t really been enjoying it that much. Why not? A sudden “episode” of anxiety has seemingly come out of nowhere and hit me like a truck running over my head at 80 mph. Well, okay I guess that analogy isn’t that great because if a truck really ran over my head I would be dead right now and I’m obviously alive. But this anxiety has been really debilitating and I haven’t been living life as I should because of it. I suppose realizing that my dreaded birthday is coming up is what triggered the anxiety attack. I started thinking about my age and where I am in life and what I’ve done and more about what I haven’t done (marriage, kids, grad school, career, my art, moving abroad again, etc). And that’s been really worrying and upsetting me. I know I’ve been beating myself up, unfairly, and way too harshly. But despite my efforts to be rational and chilled-out about things, the same obsessive worries and fears and regrets keep going round in circles in my head. But I think that once I start to really make progress and improvements in at least one area of my life, these feelings will get better and go away. God, I hope so. Regret is such a miserable, self-loathsome, sickening feeling. I’ve struggled enough with it already over the years and I thought I had finally let go of some things until this latest crippling bout of it. I know regret is extremely counter-productive because you can’t go back and change things. Looking back, dwelling, getting sentimental and nostalgic to the point of extreme sadness – this has always been a problem of mine since I was a kid, really. How do you stop thinking this way? If anybody has any good tips, please feel free to share them. I’m so tired of it.
Anyway, in other good news, I just started a new photography blog – http://aclundberg.blogspot.com. I’m really happy with how it’s looking so far. Hopefully as I add more posts it will start to look more professional and will help me land some jobs or something. But despite using it as a job tool, I’ve just been having a lot of fun working on it.
Living with a chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis can be so unbearably frustrating and maddening because of the unpredictability of the disease. I live each day with much uncertainty, never knowing when RA will strike next and where and how strongly. Having RA continues to teach me new things in life, and many of these lessons are often painful, defeating and anxiety-filled. It constantly tests my patience, and when I stop to think about it, I’m not sure if living with this disease has made me a more patient person or the direct opposite. When it comes to dealing with problems I am a very impatient person in general. I want to know WHY something is happening or going wrong. I want to analyze it to death in order to find an answer (so I can then fix it somehow). Usually all this does is cause more anxiety while driving myself absolutely crazy. Why is this happening to me? Now what’s wrong with my body? Is it the arthritis or a “normal” health problem? Is another part of my body going to become damaged? What’s going to happen to me? Will this ever go away? The difficult questions go on and on.
I just started reading Speaking of Faithby Krista Tippett (I like her radio show a lot despite that her voice annoys the hell out of me). In the book she quotes the German poet Ranier Maria Rilke and the quote has really stuck with me since reading it the other day. When first reading the passage, his views on dealing with questions in life seem very straight-forward and maybe even easy. It’s not so easy though to shut off your brain, those anxious questions and worries, and to instead just live. Regarding all of the RA questions that are constantly running through my mind, I do try to live life one day at a time. If I really stopped to think about all of the frightening possibilities RA can bring, I would probably be locked up somewhere in a straight jacket in a constant state of panic. As I wrote about in some previous blog posts, I have been having a difficult time dealing with a strong bout of anxiety lately. I’m working on it and I know I’ll get better, even when my neurotic hypochondriac self doesn’t think so. But reading Rilke’s advice in Krista Tippett’s book hits home. I hope you like it and can find some reassurance in it as well.
…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to A Young Poet
*Ich glaube an alles noch nie gesagte – I believe in everything that has not yet been said – Rilke
Not a lot is going on right now with my RA, thankfully. My ankles are painful but they always are, so that’s nothing new. Otherwise my joints feel pretty good. I’m staying away from caffeine, which I believe is helping to keep my RA under control (but who knows, really). However I am still having issues related to my thyroid and anxiety. I went to my internist today to talk to him more about this and left feeling rather disappointed. He seemed to rush through the appointment, not really listening to me that closely. He also contradicted himself in major ways a few times, which I also found frustrating and distressing. I know that thyroid conditions can be very tricky and there is no exact science when it comes to diagnosis and treatment (which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis). Every patient is different and every body reacts differently to medications and the disease itself.
So, long story short, I believe that I have been over-medicated (levothyroxine) for an underactive thyroid (slightly high TSH) which has been causing the anxiety and other hyperthyroid symptoms. I’ve been completely off the thyroid drug for about two weeks now, and I do feel better, yet I’m still having anxiety problems. I’m really hoping that I just need to wait it out a bit longer and that I’ll go back to feeling normal again. In the meantime, my doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for me to take on a temporary basis. It’s supposed to be non-habit forming with no withdrawal symptoms. I hope that will start to kick in soon and give me some relief. This has all been so incredibly stressful. I think I’d prefer to have an RA flare-up rather than deal with this anxiety crap.