That's a hard question to answer because I'm not really sure at what point I felt like I really did get over it.
Over time, I calmed down about some things. I started taking sleeping pills and Scouty eventually slept through the night. I also went back to college after taking a semester off to have my baby. All of these things helped me to not feel TOTALLY BATSHIT CRAZY all the time. Just getting out of the house and interacting with other human beings and getting some more sleep was helpful to a degree.
But, I was still having panic attacks.
I was still having obsessive thoughts about terrible things happening to my baby.
Every time we got in the car, I'd suffer a 5 minutes daydream about how I was going to lose control of myself and wreck the car. How she'd be trapped inside and screaming. How I would wail.
Every time we went swimming, I envisioned her drowning.
Every time we went to the playground, I pictured her falling from the slide.
Every time we went to a restaurant, I was sure she would be poisoned.
I mean, it was nuts.
I became a super, over the top germ-o-phobe. I was preoccupied with germs. I would force everybody who came near us to sanitize. I would wipe down the equipment at the indoor play area with sanitizing wipes and watch my girl like a hawk to make sure she didn't put her hands in her mouth. One time, I went to the grocery store and realized that I didn't have any hand sanitizer, so... instead of driving in the right direction to get home, I went in the opposite direction to a park, pulled in next to a secluded bathroom and ran inside and washed my hands. I couldn't just pull into a McDonalds or something where everybody in the world was using the bathrooms. That would be like washing my hands in filth and stickiness and germs.
So, there was that. People made fun of me. My husband rolled his eyes. I kept having panic attacks. But mostly, I just faked my way through it. Mostly, I just told myself that if I pretended like it wasn't happening and stayed out in the world, I could keep it from consuming me.
And I guess it worked. But it wasn't really any way to live.
When Scouty was 8 months old, I went to the ER because I was dizzy and had heart palpitations. From there, I saw a therapist and was diagnosed with having PPD, OCD and Panic Disorder.
I never had a single moment of panic until Scout was born. It was really confusing. I chose not to medicate and just work with keeping my freaking out under control. I got pretty okay at keeping it at bay, besides all the sanitizing and hand washing until my hands bled, I mean.
When Scouty was about two years old, I was pretty okay. I only had a panic attack on a semi-monthly basis, and even then... I had learned a lot about getting through them. It was really rare that an episode would totally floor me.
When I was pregnant with Louise, I started having palpitations and had to wear a heart monitor. Nobody seemed to be concerned THAT MY HEART WASN'T WORKING RIGHT, and I felt really panicked about it. I talked with my OB/GYN and he said that as soon as Louise was born, he would put me on Zoloft. I was wary of taking it, but I was way way way more wary of having another baby and starting all over with going crazy and freaking out and losing all the ground I had gained on my own.
Allow me to say that I love Zoloft so much that I could be a pharmaceutical rep for them, (except that I'm a saggy middle aged mom who doesn't wear make up and cuts her own hair.)
I mean, all the getting better I did on my own, where I learned to just ride the panic wave, to get through it without falling apart. How I figured out that, if I was feeling panicky, I should just go somewhere public where I felt like I had no choice but to hold it together. How I downed melatonin and sleeping pills every single day because I wouldn't sleep other wise. Sometimes I took a sleeping pill in the middle of the day just to calm my nerves. How, if I didn't exercise in the evening, I would be jittery and falling apart by bedtime. How I would sit in a coffee shop hiding behind a book, not really reading it, just trying to remember how to be a human being.
I wrote, too. I sat and manically typed and typed and typed into the night. I wrote my book. It wasn't about panic, but it was full of darkness and light. It all took place under the trees. I couldn't rest until the story was out of me.
I was even a little bit afraid of being better. I thought I wouldn't be brilliant if something was in my head, suppressing my fears and impulses. But, like I already said. How I was living was not really anything I'd recommend.
Within a week of starting Zoloft, I felt okay. I felt kind of REALLY FUCKING okay. Within another few weeks, I could sleep at night without taking any pills. I could allow my children to play at the park without squirming out of my skin about all the germs they were amassing. I even let people sit down with me, talk with me and hold my hands without making them sanitize, (most of the time, at least.)
I guess, how I got through such a terrible time is that I faked it. I pretended nothing was wrong. I got a firm strangle hold on my sanity and held on to it with mad, white fists. I got through it because I loved my baby and I didn't have the option of losing it. And then, the thing that really worked was that I finally asked for help and got it.
I haven't panicked in probably a year and a half. I haven't been up all night obsessing about everything that could go wrong. I can drive without having to mentally prepare myself for crashing. I can interact with people without seeing them as a source of potential disaster. I don't even believe that monsters are lurking on the stairs at night anymore. I don't even believe that something is going to go wrong.
I am able to love my kids without being constantly aware of how DEVASTATING and UNDOING it would be if they weren't here with me and alive and okay and happy. I am not afraid of my love, any more. I don't live every day from the point of view that I couldn't take it if anything happened to them. That's what my panic was all about. I had never loved anything purely, before. I had never been somebody's mommy. I was afraid that deep down, I wasn't good enough to be what they deserved.
I know that I am, now.
I can't even say for sure that nothing will ever happen to them, or to me. I can understand, though, that chances are that nothing will. Chances are that we'll live a long time together and I'll get to love them until I'd old and tired. Chances are that even then, at the end of my long life, I won't be ready to let them go, and that's okay. It's just the price I pay to get to love something this much. It's worth it, and I'm not scared anymore.