Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When Husbands Don't Understand - Anxiety & Social Anxiety

Right now, we are with my inlaws in Southern California on an extended holiday trip (we bought the plane tickets before my husband was laid off from work).  Luckily, I do get along with my inlaws, but nevertheless, it is stressful, not being in my own house (and goodness knows, if DH doesn't find a job soon, this could become a semi-permanent arrangement for us).

DH still has plenty of old friends here from when he was in high school & college.  I did not grow up anywhere near here.  I'm from the Houston, TX area, and the only people I really know here are my inlaws and my sister-in-law and her husband.  I was flabbergasted today when, instead of going to get my hair done (MIL promised it as part of my Christmas gift), as I had thought, DH told me he had told his friends we'd all go to a get together at one of their houses this afternoon.

I have bad issues with anxiety and social anxiety.  I've never been good in social situations.  I remember feeling different at not at ease with others even back when I was as young as in first grade.  To give him credit, my husband tries to understand but he just doesn't realizee that for me it's physical too--headaches, upset stomach, etc.  I just don't think he grasps the magnitude of this situation for me and that it takes me a giant effort many times to even get together with people I know, much less people I don't know and have nothing in common with other than my husband and the fact that some of us are moms (but their kids are older than Tessa, 5 or 6 years old.  The wives all know each other well as they all socialize.  Every time we come out here, I feel just completely out of the loop.  I have nothing to talk about--I'm a SAHM, I don't have a career, I don't know the places or the people they talk about.

Well, it finally ended up that DH guilted me into going because I didn't want to embarrass him being the only wife not in attendance.  It turned out OK, I guess, but I was glad to leave.  Mostly I stuck with Tessa, especially since the daughter of the people who owned the home had a zillion itty bitty toys spread all over the house.  I thought Tessa was spoiled, but this child had so many toys and all of them scattered everywhere! Mostly Tessa is good about not putting small things in her mouth, but she can't always be trusted.

But still, the whole situation today took a big emotional toll on me and left me exhausted.  Especially when you start out the day thinking you're getting a haircut & badly needed highlights and end up having to attend a social function, which is always one of your least favorite things to do and you weren't prepared for that at all.  I really wish I weren't this way and I've tried and tried to change it, but I still just have issues with the whole social making friends bit, and I hate it.

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An intro

My name is Cheryl Bradley.  I'm 32 years old and live in Texas.  I have a beautiful 2 year old daughter, Tessa, and have been married for 5 years to my husband.  Since she was born in Dec. 2007, I have been breastfeeding Tessa, and she is still nursing today at 2.  While extended breastfeeding is not common in the U.S., the WHO actually recommends that moms breastfeed for a minimum of 2 years.  My plan now is to let Tessa self-wean when she is ready.  I had no major issues with breastfeeding my daughter such as problems with sore nipples or latch issues, but even so, in the beginning, I thought there was no way I'd make it 2 months, much less 2 years.  I am SO proud of us for making it to our 2 year breastfeeding anniversary.  But I do hate that the majority of the people in the U.S. seem to view extended breastfeeding as "weird".

If you know me from other sites, you'd know I also have dealt with postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety & panic disorder and years ago now, an eating disorder (anorexia and compulsive exercise) while I was in college.  At my worst, I did weigh around 80 lb.  I am 5'4" tall so that was very underweight.  The ED is more or less under control now and my weight has been stable for years, ranging from around 105-115 lb. (when I wasn't pregnant).  I don't know that I'll ever be 100% free of the ED thoughts, but I do much better with them, and behavior-wise, I'd consider myself recovered from the ED for around 8 years now.  The anxiety and panic issue as well as the PPD is another matter, though.  Currently, I take Cymbalta and Xanax as needed for panic attacks & the depression and Trazodone for sleep.

Shortly before Halloween, my husband was laid off from his job (financial problems at his company).  He is a Ph.D. physical chemist, and despite the fact that he earned his Ph.D. at Rice University in Houston under a Nobel Prize winning professor (Dr. Rick Smalley, now deceased), he has a hard time finding work.  He contracted for Johnson Space Center (JSC) for awhile, but cutbacks at NASA forced a lay off there as well.  I don't know what we're going to do this time, with a toddler.  We may have to move in with my inlaws in Southern California if he doesn't find a job soon.  I have a master's degree in microbiology from the University of Houston but have been out of the work force some years and am currently a SAHM, so the only income we have right now is his unemployment and money we can beg off his folks.  I really hate this limbo state of affairs, and it's not doing my anxiety disorder any good, that's for sure!

I'm not sure exactly what this blog is going to be like--a little about parenting, about breastfeeding, mental health issues, current happenings in my life, whatever strikes my fancy.