I have something to tell you about myself.
It has been two and a half years since I had a panic attack. I had even started to associate them with being postpartum, and believed that they were over, for me. I believed they were a unhappy memory, something I'd tucked neatly away on the top shelf of my bedroom closet between boxes of pictures from my childhood.
But then, I got sick about two weeks ago, and I started to feel the electricity of fear, and everything quickly tumbled out of control.
I'm a mess, right now. I'm stuck in an OCD loop of fear and anxiety, racing thoughts, and being afraid that I might panic, at any moment. I wake up in the morning and immediately scan my body for signs of anxiety. Do I feel shaky? I little bit. Fuck. Do I feel light headed? I think so. Fuck. I lay awake at night with my thoughts running around in circles, trying to talk myself out of anxiety, only, the more I fight it, the bigger it gets and pretty soon I'm paralyzed by a fear that I'm losing control of my own mind. That my anxiety will get worse and worse and I'll end up being shackled to a bed under a fluorescent light and nobody will be here to hug and love my babies. That I'll go crazy or I'll die or that I'm having a seizure or I'll pass out while driving and everything will be wrong and wrong forever.
All of this to say... I am going through a really terrible bout with panic, and I need your love. Is that okay to ask for? It's a bold move, for me, to ask for support, but I really need it, right now. I need your thoughts and your words and your experiences and your hands. I need your kindness. I need you. I live like I'm alone on an island, all the time and it is exhausting. I need baskets of fruit and cards and hugs and cups of tea and to not be alone, in this.
I have panic disorder. I thought it was gone, but it won't really ever be gone.
I'm trying to be brave and face this head on, but these things can be complicated. They can take time and perseverance.
The other day. I went to the er, even though I knew I wasn't having a heart attack. Still... I googled the symptoms and I WAS nauseated and had a pain between my shoulder blades. They gave me the full work up, and I'm physically perfectly healthy.
I visited a GP, and asked to be put back on zoloft, even though I hated taking zoloft because it killed me inside and made me uninterested and passionless. The doctor checked my thyroid, liver and blood sugar, and everything is normal. I started taking the familiar blue pills, expecting relief, and, instead, it SHOT MY ANXIETY THROUGH THE FUCKING ROOF. I mean, I was shaking and grinding my teeth and bawling as soon as Kurt got home and the girls were out of ear shot, begging him, "Just love them. I'm going upstairs to a mountain of blankets that will only be tangled and feel wrong." Parts of my body were trembling uncontrollably. I had terrible hot flashes and pressure in my head, and woke up at night drenched in sweat, freezing with my teeth chattering.
I'm telling you this, because it's true. Because other people are going through what I'm going through and they feel alone, like something is wrong with them and nobody understands. I understand. It's hell. It's embarrassing. It feels like something I should be able to laugh off or get a grip on, but I can't.
I stopped taking zoloft after ten days, after speaking to a doctor and having him tell me that my reaction was adverse, that nobody should put themselves through something like this. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist in a few weeks to talk about a medication that will work with me. That's as soon as anyone can see me. A few weeks is a lifetime away and it's Christmas and what if I ruin everything?
I was given xanax, until then. I have an irrational fear of taking xanax, even for a few weeks, because everybody is always like, "Oh my god, if you take a single xanax you'll be addicted to it in like... a day and your life will fall apart." I hate the thought of it. I call Kurt and work and say, "I feel like I need to take a xanax, but I'm afraid to. Can you tell me it's okay?"
So, here I am. This is about as vulnerable as I get, telling you all of this shit. I'm disappointed because I thought I was over this, that panic disorder was a phase of my life that I could look back at and scoff at. That I was better, now. Stronger and more capable. I feel defeated and humbled. I feel like shit.
All I can do is play with my kids, get take out for dinner because meal planning is overwhelming, right now. Trying my best not to feel guilty about everything that is overwhelming, right now. All I can do is meet my wonderful mommies for lunch, take our kids for mini hikes through the woods, snuggle up on the porch swing with cups of tea. Collect pine cones; marvel over them, crouched in the leaves with my two year old. I can share headphones with my big girl, listen to music and rest my forehead on hers, before we get out of bed in the morning.
All I can do is become an open vein, ask my husband to sit with me and hold my hands. Tuck the blankets around my girls at night and watch how beautiful they are while they sleep. I whisper to my little one, "I love you," and she whispers back with her eyes closed. I love you, too.
All I can do is keep moving forward. I can't cry. I can't eat. All I can do is feel worried about something that isn't even real. It's all in my head. All I can do is face this, try to own it and also... I need you. I do. We all need each other, I think.