Arms crossed tightly, slightly rocking, my hands shaking, I can feel and hear my heart beating. Focusing on a single thought is nearly impossible with the series of a thousand thoughts going through my mind. I wonder if people talking to me can see I’m not really paying attention. Would I be able to respond to them coherently if they direct a comment at me?
“Do you have a sunburn?” someone asks. I don’t. My chest and neck are bright red from one of my several panic attacks of the day. I don’t admit this.
I want to hide under my desk. Not figurately – I am trying hard to physically prevent myself from moving my body under my desk. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just calm down? I tell myself to take a deep breath. Nothing is helping.
For the last couple of weeks, the most I have slept on a given night is 3 hours. I haven’t been able to eat and have lost about 10 pounds in two weeks. This is certainly making the situation worse.
This was pretty much my day for the prior couple of weeks. The several months before that wasn’t much better. I can’t go on like this indefinitely.
The work day is finally over. In the car, I am shaking and in tears. Maybe a good cry would help. I just have to keep it together until after I drop off the kids at their activity tonight.
Once I’m back home, I am sobbing. Crying is not enough. I have a strong urge to hide. I’m looking around for the right place. What is wrong with me?
I end up behind the couch, rocking and sobbing. I feel as though I’ve lost my mind.
I somehow pull it back together to pick up the kids. My husband is out of town for a work class. I need to handle this.
Night comes and again, no sleep. I can’t stop the crying. I feel desperate, hopeless, alone.
I call a helpline and they give me names of therapists. I decide to call after the kids are at school the next day. I somehow manage to get them off to school the next morning. Then I finally call my husband. I am desperate, bawling on the phone. I have blindsided him since I had kept telling myself that I should be able to handle this on my own. It’s just stress – everyone has it. Why can’t you handle it?
Upon sharing how I’m feeling and much discussion, my husband says we need to do what’s best for me. If I need to quit my job we’ll figure things out – whatever it takes. I finally feel a shred of hope. Why didn’t I share sooner?
He accompanies me to my doctor the next day, who at a later appointment tells me how fortunate I am to have someone who is so understanding and supportive with this mental health situation.
The meds I am given for anxiety and depression begin to help within a week. After a month, I feel an unusual amount of happiness upon realizing I just had a lucid, single thought without being bombarded with a train of 20 other thoughts. I have some level of enjoyment and normalcy. I am beginning to hope again.
I discover how truly blessed I am to have supportive family and friends. I am taking care of myself and working on doing what’s best for me and my family.
After a period of recovery, I’m able to see this as a blessing, a wake-up call, and an opportunity for a fresh start.
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity ~Albert Einstein
My most important lesson learned from this experience is don’t ignore the signs and wait until it’s too late when your mind and body are telling you something is wrong. Don’t deal with the issue later – your well-being is too important. It doesn’t just affect you, it affects your family, choices, and relationships. Don’t be hesitant to ask your friends and loved ones for support.
I’m still trying to figure things out several months later, but things are looking up, and I have new goals and ideas. I’m beginning to get back the person I really am. My creativity, joy, and confidence are returning.
I plan to actively remember the lessons learned from this experience, and be on the lookout to spot any similar signals going forward. Recognize your limits, and don’t let situations get to a terrible breaking point. Take time to do things for yourself, to keep healthy and well.
Make the most of life!
Matthew 6:34 (RSV)
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.