*** it's long - sorry ***
I have, many times, heard the term ‘anxiety/panic attack’ ... although I have often felt anxious or panicky; I couldn’t quite understand what an actual attack was.
Until about two years ago.
I am not exactly sure when they started, because I don’t think I recognized them for what they were. I recall thinking that perhaps I had too much coffee, soda or something of that nature. But then it happened on days that I hadn’t had any coffee, soda, etc.
For a while I was convinced that I was having a heart attack or heart attacks, as the case may be. My heart would race, I couldn’t breathe, and my chest actually hurt – trying to suck in air was painful. I would get shaky, as if I hadn’t eaten anything even when I had. Sometimes I was dizzy or felt so nauseous that I would run for the bathroom … then the chills or hot flashes would start.
After repeatedly being told that I was just fine, I started to believe that I was just crazy. Not too surprising there, considering the year I had already had, the depression I was already experiencing and the migraines that were a constant source of agony.
Following the initial conversation with my Dr., I didn’t feel comfortable broaching the subject again, for fear that I would sound like a hypochondriac or worse a potential druggy tryin’ to score.
I tried to talk to friends, or family but only heard …’well it must be the hormones’ (2 kids in two years) or ‘buck up, you’re a strong girl, you can work through it’, ‘have faith, God only gives you what you can handle’ … how do you respond to those things? They were true … I was raging with hormones, pregnant and nursing for 4 years will do that to a gal … and I am a strong girl, I take life fairly head on and have been the one that most people turn to. Speaking of faith, yep, I have that too. I believe that God has a plan for me and all the trials and tribulations of life are just part of His master plan.
But still, as much as I tried to relax, as much as I tried to have faith, those pains just kept comin’ and the more often they happened, the more I withdrew from life as I knew it.
When you can’t talk about what is really going on in your life, and you aren’t a good liar/faker, what’s left? You step back. That’s it.
I did that for a while, people I promised to see or call ended up disappointed. The people that I worked with and for felt deserted and there is no doubt that my family felt neglected.
At some point I met with a different Dr., for other issues, and when she asked me some gentle probing questions, I let it all spill out. It was hard for me – I am the Queen of ‘Oh everything is just fine, I’ll handle it, don’t worry – got it covered.' Being even two-thirds honest with her was both liberating and terrifying at the same time. You’d think I would have taken the opportunity to be completely forthright, but I just didn’t have it in me, I needed to keep bits of myself.
I was already on Antidepressants and beta-blockers for my migraines, so when she prescribed an anti-anxiety med, I didn’t think anything of it. It was just one more tablet to add to the pile.
And do you know what happened?
It got worse.
So much worse.
I can’t really tell you much, I only remember bits and pieces … I remember the terror of knowing that I was indeed going crazy. Come on, if the medications for depression just make me more depressed, the migraine medications don’t stop the migraines and anti-anxiety med’s only make me more anxious, well then it must just be me. I must be broken. Unfixable.
And I felt completely broken. Completely, entirely unfixable.
I still do, most days.
Someday I'll tell you the story about how I stopped taking ALL of my medications at once – cold turkey. But it is too long of a story to go into now and I am afraid I don‘t have it in me to tell it anyhow … it still hurts to think about it.
The point though, is that I did stop. I stopped taking it all.
I won’t kid you, it was rough. My system had been saturated by so many medications and my body was NOT HAPPY that I stopped supplying it with the goods.
But I made it through.
And for a long time, I felt good. I felt whole, well at least partially. I had a bit of clarity and a renewed sense of hope.
It has been a long road, a troubling journey. At every twist and turn I am convinced that I will feel better. More whole, more complete, more calm.
And sometimes I do ... feel better, more complete, calmer.
But lately, I have been experiencing those same sensations … rapid heart beat, chest pains, hand tremors, nervousness, shakiness … oh you know, the gamut of things that I had almost forgotten.
In fact, this entire last week, I have been thinking to myself ‘Frannie, I think you are losin’ your ever lovin’ mind’ … ‘you better hush up or folks are gonna start to wonder about you’ …
Then I slowly, I am a little dim what can I say, I remember when I have felt this way before. I can recall how it started out slowly, just a glimmer of what was to come … and the rapid spiral into something I could never have imagined.
So here I am.
Medication free. A little concerned, knowing that a pill won’t solve this – not for me at least, but not knowing what will, ease it at least.
Knowing too, who I can lean on this time. Who understands and who doesn’t. Who might judge and those who won’t.
I have those anxious feelings again, but I am in a better place to ‘deal’ this time.
Well, at least that’s what I’m gonna tell y’all :)
My whole goal is to keep my spirit intact. If that doesn't happen, none of this is worth it. -Jewel
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-3