Please Be My Filter – My Post-Mono Anxiety & Depression

In September, a few months into a new relationship with a wonderful man that I have known for 9 years, I got mono. Except I didn’t know it was mono until late October. Sure something was wrong with me, and already prone to hypochondriac tendencies, I became incredibly anxious about what was going on with my body. I had crazy theories I won’t even share because they were so ridiculous. I couldn’t function at work (duh, I had mono).

Finally, I found out it was mono one lovely Saturday at the emergency room, and it was somewhat a relief to know… but the anxiety stayed. And it spread to other parts of my life. I became deathly concerned with things regarding being in a relationship for the first time. And then my worries extended to understanding  my spirituality and faith. And then it was just life in general. And the end of the world. It seemed that no matter how many things I finally resolved (each being the “worst thing ever”), I found a brand new, scarier issue to become fixated on.

I spent hours at work staring at the ceiling, feeling unable and unwilling to focus on anything but the bad things in my mind. And when I came home, my wonderful boyfriend let me cry and watched my face contort when a fear in my head became too much for me to handle. And so it went, from October to ..well now. Recently, I realized it would be helpful to my boyfriend to know what the processes in my brain are like, and what he can do to help me when I start to sink. In fact, there are many people in my life trying to help me, so this applies to them too. It’s a lot easier to reach someone who is struggling when you understand what’s happening in their head. Thanks to my friend Sue’s inspiration, I thought to share it in visual form. [Click to enlarge.]

Sabina_1 Sabina_2

Helpful things to say:

  • Deep breath
  • These foods have vitamin B12, have some.
  • Let’s go for a walk
  • Trust God

Not so helpful, though well intentioned:

  • But your life is so good
  • Pick yourself up
  • You can’t be like this!

(In my boyfriend’s defense, he never says the not so helpful ones. I am a lucky lady.)

I don’t know what’s going on with me, really. People I have spoken to think that the mono brought my body down so much that it also messed with my brain chemistry. Thoughts going too fast, jumping to the worst conclusions…that kind of thing. All synapses gone wonky. Reading others’ stories, I know my struggles aren’t impossible, and certainly could be worse.   I know I can’t be the person I was made to be for others if I am so focused on myself, my thoughts, my fears. I had my first meeting with a therapist on Saturday, and have other projects in different areas of my life to get back to being me, but better.  I am sure there is good that will some day come out of this. At least, it oughta make for a good story in a few years. ;)

——————————————————

This was originally posted on the Student Affairs Collective for their #SACommits series, dedicated to stomping out stigma around mental health.  For more information, see the intro post by Kristen Abell. Check out the other posts in this series too! You can also join the conversation by using our unique #SACommits Selfies print outs.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Please Be My Filter – My Post-Mono Anxiety & Depression

  1. Happy to see that you’re finding ways to share how your brain is working and to dig into what’s going on – I have intense anxiety too and I definitely understand that when people don’t see what’s actually going on they just think you should calm down and move on, but it’s not like it’s just a button to push! I will have you in my prayers that these steps your taking have a positive effect and that you’re feeling back to yourself soon :)

    Like

  2. My son was diagnosed with mono and developed severe anxiety, extreme fatigue, brain fog, and cognitive issues. After two months of worsening symptoms, we discovered that he actually has been suffering from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Strong antibiotics should be all he needs for complete healing. Insist on a Western Blot blood test to confirm. I’m so glad we did!

    Like

  3. Hello, I’m just finding this story now. I’ve had the exact same symptoms you described. Especially the anxiety and fixating on awful things related to spirituality and death. I’ve had one major panic attack and quite a few minor ones. I just want to know if you ever got through this? I’ve read so many stories about this and everyone talks about the symptoms but no one talks about the conclusion. It’s driving me insane. I’ve had this going on for over half a year now and I just want it do be over with. Are you still getting symptoms? Thank you for sharing your story,

    Jason

    Like

    1. Jason! I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sucks, I would know. The short answer is, yes, I got through it. Why? I have the best partner (now husband this year!!!!!) , as I mentioned. He bugged and bugged me till I finally made an appointment with a therapist (social worker, really, who happens to be a nun). She finally bugged me till I got a psychiatrist. The first psych appointment, she diagnosed me with OCD. (Check out OCDtypes.org.- it was creepy to see my exact, unmentionable awful terrible thoughts on the screen, telling me it wasn’t me.)

      I was put on Zoloft, an anti-anxiety med, at a pretty low dosage. It was wonderful in just SLOWING DOWN my brain, so that I could have a thought without spiraling. Plus, just knowing that my thoughts didn’t represent my soul or who I was as a person – having a NAME for what I had, helped tremendously.

      Besides professional help and a solid support system – something that really helps me is to recognize an ugly thought as it comes. Then I stop myself and say ” before I start thinking about thinking about thinking…I am going to let this go in one ear and out the other. Just going to recognize it and let it go. If I am still worried about it in 10 minutes, then maybe I can focus on it.” Fun fact, it’s never real life in 10 minutes.

      If I learned anything from my OCD, it’s that your brain can make anything seem like real life when it’s not. People genuinely believe they are gay, a murderer, not in love, etc etc, when for them it’s not the case. (seriously, check that website.) I was living in a foggy, unreal world, for a long time.

      I also learned that OCD isn’t necessarily obsessive hand washing or straightening objects on your desk. It could be what I have – thoughts that get stuck on a never ending and worse and worse track in your brain that keeps coming back. It’s hell on earth. And it’s all a lie. I promise.

      Yes, I do still have these thoughts sometimes.. But thanks to medicine, a husband who believes I am a good person even when I don’t, and the coping mechanisms I mentioned, those symptoms don’t affect my life and choices anymore. They show up, and I tell them goodbye. I have OCD, and I always will. But I am not suffering anymore. It’s given me a chance to turn my relationship into a marriage because we walked through fire together. And it gives me a chance to talk to people like you, to give them hope. God brought you to my page. If you like, He can bring you to my email address too. sdematteo@fordham.edu. There’s more support where this essay came from!

      God bless you, and remember, that even if you don’t believe it, there’s hope. I am telling you this not as an uninformed person, but as a person who is sitting happily in her new married home, shocked at how beautiful life can be, even though 3 years ago I was convinced I would have to become a hermit without any relationships.

      PS – if you’re worried about talking to people, professional or not, about your thoughts because they are TOO AWFUL to speak out loud – I never told my therapist the exact thoughts that brought me to my breaking point. Or my psychiatrist. My husband still doesn’t know what I was dealing with. He trusted me and my goodness enough not to need to know. I told these people I just couldn’t tell them. They still were able to diagnose me. Don’t let that stop you from getting help! Get help!!!! God can’t work his magic through you if you let the Devil keep you down where you are. It’s not your fault, but you have the power and grace to get through it.

      xo

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s