I have deliberately used the term ‘suffering’. Everyone gets anxious it is arguably a useful human emotion, we need it to an extent. But I suffer from it. It is beyond a useful tool to ensure I get to work on time, and pay my bills. It is the reason I can’t sleep at night. It is the fear that grips me during a car journey when I become convinced that I will die in a crash before I get home. It is the paranoia that people have noticed that I am an appalling excuse for a human being.
Before I became pregnant I was taking medication for my anxiety. And it was working. No panic attacks, the ability to both fall and stay asleep. The ever increasing periods of positivity and dealing with issues that previously would have affected me for weeks.
Then that little blue line appeared on the test window and all medication stopped. And will remain so. I will not risk harm to my baby.
On ceasing the medication I found suddenly how effective it had been. I think my anxiety stems from my failed teaching career. The enormous amount of stress and personal turmoil that caused has never and probably will never be addressed. I feel such a crushing feeling of failure and loss about it that I don’t see me ever fully ‘getting over it’. I’ve said before I have nightmares about it. I’m in the classroom, teaching, enjoying myself. The children start to get noisy and I start loosing control, I try all the tricks that worked in the classroom, they are ineffective. So I start shouting, nothing. I target one child, try to bring them to heel. Nothing. I get angry shout louder, knowing its exactly NOT what I should be doing. And then I wake up, sweating, heart racing, on the verge of tears.
Last night I had that dream again. I tried the clapping pattern I used to do in the classroom to refocus the attention. Nothing, so I clapped harder and harder again and again. Perhaps I really was clapping, my hands were hurting me and I’ve been told you can’t feel pain in a dream. It was different this time, the walls at the back of the classroom lifted and the children went to their parents, still talking, still completely ignoring every effort on my part to regain control. I turned and saw my sister and best friend from childhood standing in the classroom by the door and I burst into tears. Children and parents still milling about, and now my own din was added to the noise. Uncontrollable sobbing.
I’ve never cried during this dream before. I’ve felt like it, but always remained strong enough to refrain. I don’t know why last night was different. All I can do it hope that’s the last time I ever have my sleep invaded by that absolute horror show. But I know it won’t be.
Pregnancy is an anxious time for anyone. Even the second time around. I spent the first few weeks convinced I’d miscarry. There is no medical reason for me worry, nothing about my history that makes it likely. But that’s not how my anxiety works. Every day is a battle between my rational and anxious self. Sometimes rational wins sometimes the anxious. The same anxious side that told me, when the sonographer ran that plastic thingy over the cold, clear jelly on my tummy I would see a dead baby on screen.
My hope is when I start to feel movement these anxieties will subside. At the same time imagine I shall be a thorn in the side of the NHS. And I know, ‘worry can effect the baby’, that is simply another source of anxiety for me.
So it’s different this time, I feel all the wonderful emotions I felt last time. But they’re tainted, with the unshakable feeling that something awful will happen, to the baby, to me or to someone I love. And that’s just something I’ve got to live with for a while.