I’ve told you guys before that I am a total basketcase. I am not ashamed of it. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder that has been untreated for years since I decided that the medication that I was prescribed brought on…well…more crazy. I didn’t want to live my life dependent on some pill to keep me sane. I was pretty sure I could do it myself.
It all started on Christmas Eve (which was also the eve of my 23rd birthday) when my grandfather was rushed to the hospital by ambulance because my grandma and uncle thought he was having a stroke. He was 87 or something at the time, and had already had a couple of TIAs. By the time that I was told about any of that, however, my grandmother had been admitted also. To make a long story short, Grandpa was in perfect health but Grandma, while searching for their insurance information in her purse, lost the use of her left arm and ultimately was the one having a stroke. Bizarre. I know. And it was my birthday. And Christmas.
My grandparents lived with or near us for a good portion of my childhood. And, even in my early adulthood, they were the people I went to for EVERYTHING. My parents are great. My grandparents were saints. On my birthday, we turned off the machines. I held hands with my sister and my grandfather in the hospital I would later be employed at and, in my head, I sang, “Three little monkeys, jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head…” because my grandma used to tell me how much I used to chant those words when I was small and how, after that, she wouldn’t even teach the other grandkids that song. She hated it. But telling the story always made her laugh that sweet laugh that made everyone else smile too. I thought that being annoying, even in my head, would stop me from throwing myself out the window of her room in the ICU. Because, losing her? Well, there’s never been anything worse than that.
That’s when the panic attacks started. They happened in the middle of the night. Out of a dead sleep, I would wake, struggling to breathe, sweating. They would happen when I couldn’t remember where I had parked my car at work. They would happen when my best friend didn’t return my phone call. I was falling apart.
I was put on Zoloft and Xanax by a doctor at the hospital where I worked. She didn’t ask any questions about what was happening in my life. In fact, she asked ZERO questions. I was in the office for less than five minutes. Prescriptions were written and I was excused. Zoloft made me feel like a lunatic and Xanax made me sleepy. So, I didn’t take them. I popped a Xanax only when I was mid-panic and I managed everything with…well…I didn’t. I drank a lot of beer because it mellowed me out. And my friends drank a lot of beer. So it just made sense. And a doctor I worked for did acupuncture on me on a weekly basis to calm me down. And it helped. A lot. But I never really dealt with the root of it all. But I managed.
Two weeks before my 30th birthday, my grandfather died. And so, there I was, back in the same place I had been 7 years before. I fell into a depression. It wasn’t long before the panic attacks returned. With a vengeance. I tried to see a therapist for grief counseling because, even though I have always been a little high strung, I knew that this had to have started there. With death. With loss. But my insurance was crap and I couldn’t afford to pay $50 per week to get my head straight. So I drank more wine. And I managed.
When I started dating my husband, he was so calm. And so ZEN. And so refreshing. And my anxiety was almost non-existent. Until I got pregnant with Baby L. And then I had a hard time finding the balls to leave the house. Why? I don’t know. I just didn’t want to see anyone. Or have conversations with people. I didn’t want to be noticed. I was so scared and felt so alone in my head. That’s when I started this blog. And, oh my god, internet. I can’t tell you the difference that this community of bloggers and readers has helped me just…maintain. But I feel myself slipping.
And not because I have two kids now. And not because my husband is no longer calm and comforting. But because now there are two people in the world who depend on me for everything. And I am terrified of failing. Or losing them. I find myself sanitizing like a madwoman. And avoiding public outings because we could get into a car accident. Or someone could take them. Or they could contract leprosy. I envy those women who can dive into motherhood with an almost carefree abandon about leaving the comfort of their homes and letting their kids experience things. It isn’t that I don’t do that stuff. I do, but it makes me physically ill to think about all of the things that could happen. It is paralyzing. Because anything COULD happen. And I can’t live in fear of EVERYTHING. Can I?
I am trying. Really trying, to learn how to just relax. And I feel It is imperative, at this point, to learn to deal with my fear of loss. To stop thinking so much about what could happen and focus on what IS happening. Because what IS happening is that my kids are growing. They are learning and laughing and becoming little people. And I am afraid to drive down the street for fear that I will miss all of it. When I could miss it just the same if I don’t just DRIVE.
It is a constant struggle. And this is a very personal issue for me. But I needed to talk about it. Because I know that I am not the only one. At least. I hope I’m not the only one.