So I had a total meltdown this afternoon. Lately I seem to crumble into tears at least once every week or two. I know this is common for many pregnant women, but I’m not generally a weepy pregnant woman. Usually it happens more when I’m sleep-deprived, but I’ve actually been getting plenty of sleep lately thanks to our lax homeschooling schedule. Today it was triggered by a midwife appointment.
It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll just summarize by saying that my glucose levels have become a bit of a concern. So I’ll be doing the 3-hour glucose test on Wednesday morning. At my appointment, my levels (tested via finger-prick and diabetic test strips) were nerve-racking. My midwife is recommending that I reduce my carb intake even if my 3-hour results come back OK, just to work on eating healthier in general for myself and my baby. She also recommended taking more walks since exercise is one good way to reduce high blood-sugar levels.
I was so relieved that my husband’s car was in the driveway when I arrived home. I was feeling panicky, and I knew having him there would help. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, tears were welling-up in my eyes. I spent the next hour or so texting my sister with tears streaming down my face almost the whole time, and intermittently crying on my husband’s shoulder.
On the surface, my situation probably doesn’t seem like anything to weep about. People deal with gestational diabetes all the time. It’s really not a big deal. It shouldn’t risk me out of giving birth at the birth center. I just need to be more careful about what I eat. But for me, today, it felt huge and scary.
I think it felt so huge and scary for two reasons…
1) Food Issues.
I spent at least half of 2014 dealing with what I can only describe (in retrospect) as an eating disorder. Not the kind you normally hear about (anorexia or bulimia) but a new-comer to the scene called orthorexia. An orthorexic eater in a CNN article described her experience (and quite accurately my own as well) this way: “I had extreme anxiety about everything I ate and became acutely aware of how every ingredient made my body feel. . . . I broke down crying once because I could taste so many different flavors, and I didn’t know what they all were or where the ingredients were sourced” (Source). Orthorexia is obsessive “clean” eating.
During the summer of 2014, I brought food everywhere I went, literally (ask my friends). I lost thirty pounds. My husband and I stayed at a hotel on our anniversary, and I finally, painstakingly, allowed myself to eat a meal prepared at a restaurant in the hotel lobby (but only after specifying that they put nothing on the halibut but butter, lemon, and salt). Then I spent the rest of the evening worrying about the meal I had eaten. Had they forgotten my request? That fish seemed too flavorful. Had they marinated the fish in something containing monosodium glutamate? Happy Anniversary to me, right? I was simultaneously battling really intense anxiety and depression, so it’s hard to know how much was eating disorder and how much was just poor mental health in general.
But the point is… it took me a very long time to come to peace with food again. It took a lot of consistent and intentional effort to not think about what I was eating and just eat for crying out loud. I am finally at a place where I can eat meals prepared by other people or restaurants (even fast-food) and not obsess about what was in it, though I admit I still think more than “normal” about possible ingredients. I am probably one of the few people on the planet who is sometimes proud of herself when she eats “junk food” because it’s a sign to me that I have come a very long way with my food obsessions.
So… perhaps that gives a little more context about why having someone suggest dietary restrictions (and I do not blame her one bit for doing so) this afternoon was kind of a huge trigger for me. It didn’t take long before I could feel the tendrils of panic reaching into my thoughts and stomach. That all-too-familiar fear-of-food. The feeling of being paralyzed… afraid to eat anything. The overwhelming anxiety about what I’m going to eat. Standing with the fridge door open, staring inside for far too long, yet seeing nothing that feels “safe.” The obsessive over-thinking about food. It was all coming back. And I hated it.
So I cried. A lot. And my husband (bless his soul forever) cooked a low-carb dinner so I wouldn’t have to think about it.
2) I’m getting closer to having a new baby.
Lots of things that happened today triggered big thought-bubbles in my mind…
This excerpt of my conversation with my sister gives a good window into my frame of mind earlier today…
Me: Just feeling overwhelmed. Also worrying about how close I’m getting to the birth…. Afraid I’m going to go crazy and have postpartum psychosis or something.
Sister: You haven’t had postpartum psychosis with any of the others, right?
Sister: So why do you think this time will be different?
Me: This one is a wild card. I’m already being treated for anxiety and depression. And that was never the case before. I’m older, I have more kids, I don’t tolerate sleep deprivation as well as I used to. . . .
Sister: Don’t assume that will happen. Embrace positivity and the belief that it will be a wonderful experience, and your body is capable of taking care of both of you.
Me: I’m not assuming. I’m just scared. I feel like I need to prepare for all the possibilities.
Sister: Understandable. But don’t let fear create something that isn’t there. Do what you can to take care of yourself and your new baby, and trust God to take care of the rest.
Me: I guess maybe that’s part of the problem… I want to believe I will be helped and sustained, but I don’t feel like I can count on it. I know life has ups and downs, and I’ve been up for a while.
Sister: So you can expect that to continue.
Me: Or I can expect that a down is coming.
Sister: I know it’s scary, especially after what you’ve experienced. But the meds are what is going to keep you from crashing the way you did before.
Me: I just keep feeling like… when am I going to wake up from this dream where life can be happy… And go back to the nightmare of reality.
Sister: You’re not going back there. You’re going to continue to be OK. I can feel it.
Man, I hope she’s right.