Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 249 to Day 247-Balancing Act


I am so anxious I'm ready to tie my own limbs together.  As I write this I've just choked down a bowl of cheerios and put in a DVD.  It's not quite 4 a.m. and I am ready to pace the halls, drive the streets, derive my own challenge course.  I've taken medication, against my better judgment, and am trying to breathe and stop coughing.

For a person who has never had a panic attack I can only describe it as fear at manic speed.  Thoughts and adrenaline race  ahead mixed with fear into one awful jumbled up mess.

I don't balance.

Day 247- 6 a.m.

I wrote the above two days ago in the beginning of what has turned out to be an incredibly difficult and painful two days of my life.

I was supposed to start training for a new job yesterday afternoon, then today and tomorrow as well.  I was going to be traveling to Charlottesville, VA, three hours away to receive materials, be trained on the research study, and have my computer equipped with everything it needed to make it all work.  As it got closer and closer, my anxiety grew higher.  I wanted this job.  I was afraid my illness would take it from me.  I was afraid I would have even less money than I have; I am afraid that I can't support my family.  The pressure multiplied until I was no longer able to manage it.  Depression and fear gave way to anxiety, which quickly turned to panic.  Panic led to sleeplessness, racing heartbeat, hot and cold flashes, crying jags, and racing thoughts.  I realized I had put all my eggs in this basket that was quickly disintegrating in my hands.

It wasn't until my mother called me close to 9 a.m. that I realized what a wreck I was.  Sobbing, I confessed the truth--I had had no solid sleep in two days.  A nap here or there for an hour, but nothing substantial.  My dreams were discombobulated and disturbing.  I spent my nighttime waking hours curled in bed, watching hour after hour of crap TV trying to ward off the anxiety.  I even put in my favorite DVDs trying to focus on something else--and was able to sleep for an hour.  My body was hurting and I realized, as I was insisting I would find a way to make this work on virtually no sleep and in the midst of a full-blown panic attack--just how insane that statement was.  It was somewhat akin to insisting I would make it to work with the full-blown stomach flu or pneumonia.

I won't go into what was said between my mother and me; what I will say is that I decided I needed to see my doctor as soon as possible.  My husband was willing to take me to training but I insisted on the doctor instead and it turned out to be the right decision.  My doctor was able to see me a few hours after I called, and impressed upon me the importance of maintaining my medication routine.  She also started me on another medication and was very clear:  absolutely no traveling of any kind until at least next week.  My job this week, apparently, is to become stabilized.

I don't quite know what to make of the fact that I'm in a "crisis" and not "stable".  I think there's a lot of life changes that I need to make, and I'm scared to make them.  I have known this for a long time.  And the weight of those needed changes are felt in my body.  Everywhere, but particularly in my back and my upper right quadrant.  And oh, my head. @@ I guess I should be thankful I'm not in a hospital somewhere tonight, pacing the corridor.  And I certainly am thankful, although I really would love a full night's sleep again.  I guess four hours beats the two I got the night before.  Maybe we can aim for six tonight.

It would have been easier, less embarrassing, to never finish this original post.  To hide the last few days or refer to them as part of my illness, which they certainly are.  But I swore from the first word I wrote on this blog about my child that I would write honestly, from the heart and soul, and that is what I have done, not only about my child but about myself as this blog has changed and morphed into something different.  The stigma around mental illness is massive and I'm just as guilty as anyone else to dance around the term.  I found myself wondering the other day at what point does one actually fit the diagnosis of mental illness?  If one is mildly depressed?  Chronically?  Struggles with anxiety or panic disorder?  Or does it take something more major than millions of the population suffer from?

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