Where I’ve been

So, hi. Yeah, been a while since I’ve written. I apologize for that. Every week that went by without a post, I’d get anxious about not posting, but had nothing to really write about, so it was difficult to come up with something.

But, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I haven’t been posting and figured it was time to be honest about why I haven’t been posting.

Many of my longer time readers know that nearly two years ago I took a sabbatical from designing. I was feeling burned out and no longer creative. What you may not know is that the burnout came not just from overworking, but from my anxiety disorder getting out of control.

Yes, you read that correctly. Too often those of us with mental health issues keep these things very quiet and private. I fell into that. Well, no more.

My name is Tracie Barrett and I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

This means that things can be going really well in my day and I can have out of no where a full blown panic attack. These are scary and hard to deal with. Even if I don’t a full blown panic attack, my anxiety levels get so high that I lock up and can’t function. This is what happened two years ago at TNNA. By the time I made the walk from the hotel room down to the show floor, I could barely breathe, my hands were shaking, and I felt like everyone was watching me. I just couldn’t do it. That was the most anxious I’ve ever been in my life, even back to when I was diagnosed in high school.

I thought that the main trigger was the pressure of designing. I thought that if I took time off I’d feel better and be good to go. I was wrong.

This last year, while everything in my life was going well and should be making me happy, I was miserable. I would sit on the sofa and have my anxiety ramp up until my heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe. The anxiety triggers my fibromyalgia pain (it’s not my only trigger, but it’s one of them) so then I’d start hurting. The pain kept me from doing what I needed to do in the day, which would make me more anxious. It was getting to the point that many days I just couldn’t function.

During the last few years my fibromyalgia has also been getting worse, which was hard to come to terms with. Things I used to do just a year ago are nearly impossible now. Things I enjoyed like walking to downtown, going hiking, decorating our home, cooking, etc. This has been an eye opening and depressing situation all around. I’d been accommodating for my weaknesses so much that I had never noticed how much I was doing that until I was forced to. That was difficult and did not help the anxiety.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I’m tired of hiding in the shadows with this. Mental health issues should be just like any other illness and be talked about without whispering and hiding.

Last month I was started on a medicine which does seem to be helping ease the hard edge of the anxiety. I’m still dealing with the pain and mental fog of the fibromyalgia. Granted, as many of you who follow me on Twitter have seen, the medicine is causing a very disruptive side effect – massive fatigue. I’m having to learn how to work around that, which only gives me about an hour or so a day of actual work time. Which is very difficult.

I’m not going to promise when the next post will be. Some days I can barely link together words into simple sentences. I’m hoping once summer break hits I can start sleeping in a bit and see if that will help me be a bit more productive during the day.