Anyone who knows me will tell you I am high strung. I tend to jump before hearing the whole story, which has lead to some tasty dishes of crow over the years. But I’m pretty intense, especially when I’ve got something I believe passionately about is at stake.

Last year in Iraq, I enjoyed the busy times. But there were too often times when I would lie awake with this tight little knot around my heart. It felt like something was squeezing. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I just felt my heart being squeezed. I’ve since learned to call it my anxiety knot. Sometimes its there, sometimes its not. But when it is there and its unrelenting, I start looking for ways to cope with it.

In Iraq, I could turn to Ambien to help with my insomnia. My kids weren’t there. Plus, everyone I knew had some or if they didn’t, they were on their way to get some. It seemed like we all had problems sleeping at some point or another. And I’ll be honest, the drag of the Ambien, pulling you down into the darkness of uninterrupted sleep is a pretty damn good feeling.

Until I started waking up more tired than I was when I’d gone to sleep. Clue number one that I needed to ease back. When I couldn’t remember what I’d tweeted about. Clue number 2 that I needed to back off.
The whole time I was enjoying the use of my little chemical buddy, I knew that when I came home, there was no more Ambien for me. Remember my anxiety knot? Yeah, well I live in chronic fear that something is going to happen to my kids. I’m paranoid that if I take an Ambien, I won’t hear my kids at night.

That’s probably more than you wanted to know. I’m not sure why I’m sharing, other than to be completely honest with what I’m going through. It’s not all easy. There are a lot of good days but there’s a lot of emotion that I don’t think I’ve properly dealt with. I’m working through it but I’m also determined to work through it without pills. I don’t want my girls to grow up seeing mommy pop a bunch of pills or getting drunk to cope with stress.

Yeah, stopped drinking, too, primarily because I wanted to do so too much. The urges are there but I’m coping with them. And it’s hard because I work so diligently at keeping it all together. My kids are adjusting well. I’m dealing well. I damn sure wouldn’t want to go back to Iraq any time soon.

But I keep driving on, trying to remember that each day is a gift I get to spend with my family.