May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I can guarantee you know someone with a silent illness. It doesn’t always shine and come with neon signs to let you know the person suffers. He or she won’t have a name tag with their condition. More than likely, he/she is probably holding in their secret, scared to be judged. Actually, I’m pretty petrified right now to share this post with you. I’ve debated on it for a few weeks and have had some serious conversations with my closest, trustworthy friends. And, here goes…I’m officially and publicly announcing my story for the first time ever.
I AM MY OWN HERO
I can’t breathe. The air around me feels too thick to inhale. My lungs squeeze, desperate for much-needed oxygen. My heart slams around and if it were a cartoon, I swear it would be stretching out my chest. My arms begin to tingle. My chest tightens and pains radiate throughout my upper torso. Pins and needles take over my legs. Muscles begin to spasm, tensing and releasing, causing severe shaking. I look like I’m convulsing. Hell, I feel like I am. The words that fall out of my mouth sound like I just pushed a fork down a metal stair case. Nothing makes sense. “Help” comes out in a wicked stutter. My mouth is dry. My toes and fingers curl up so tightly they’ll be sore and bruised tomorrow. Fear. Panic. I’m scared to death. This is it—I’m going to die.
“No, you’ve been through this before. You’ll be just fine. Let it pass.”
“But what if this isn’t like the last time and this is the end?”
“That’s what It wants you to believe. Take a deep breath.”
“I’m trying but I can’t breathe.”
“You’re breathing. Just slow down.”
This is an example of my panic attacks. They vary from strong to severe. In 2014, I was diagnosed with Severe Panic Disorder. This came directly out of the blue for me. I was fine one minute and then one night in July, my world changed.
I fought these symptoms for several months. When I started having panic attacks 3-4 times a week with each time taking me 2-3 days to recoup, which is difficult when you have 3 kids, I decided enough was enough and went to the doctor. He said it sounded like anxiety and prescribed me little white pills instructing me to take 1 or 2 at night since 99% of these “episodes” happened when the sun went down.
They didn’t help. My “episodes” continued for 2 months before I decided to go back and get a change of medicine. The new prescription helped to a certain extent, but not enough, so I decided to go see a psychiatrist. She was the one who diagnosed me. She prescribed me some anti-anxiety pills that only induced more anxiety and caused wicked adverse reactions. Because of this, she ended up teaching me some techniques to help try preventing the attacks and/or to relieve the side effects of them.
I am not against medicine. If you need it, then by all means take it! But after several failed attempts with some major negative reactions that made me feel worse than dying, a pill was NOT what I was going to take even if it was shoved down my throat. I’d probably spit that bastard back out!
In any situation, I research the internet (yes, like an idiot, I throw on my white Google Dr’s coat) and boy did I do some major searching, looking for ways to overcome this bastard condition. I’d be damned I was going to continue down this path of destruction it was taking me on. It crippled me. My once outgoing and fun personality disappeared and I feared everything…mainly going to bed. I became cranky because anxiety is exhausting. I fought it constantly on a daily basis. Sleep was all I wanted, yet it was the very thing I feared. Through my researching, I found several different methods to assuage the attacks. Some helped, some dampened the symptoms, and some just flat out sucked and were worthless.
I didn’t tell many people what I was going through. I felt a little embarrassed. I felt ashamed, small, and weak. My panic attacks made me feel worthless. But I found out I wasn’t alone. One day I told a friend and she expressed how she had been battling anxiety for many years. Then I told another, and she too had been dealing with anxiety attacks for years. I was suddenly surrounded by support and love and we all had one thing in common—anxiety and panic attacks. From one of these friends I received a shirt that says “Anxiety is my superpower.” You’re damned right it is! But owning that “superpower” took years to accomplish.
I’ve fought this long and hard and with all my might. I have overcome hurdles that 3 years ago didn’t exist. It’s as if my brain has forgotten I’ve done these things before. (For example: being home alone, going to the grocery store, being in crowds, etc.) I am not 100% yet. But I’m 70% better than I was 2 years ago. I am determined to overcome this and be “me” again. I will win this. I will not allow It to suck me down into the dark depths that I know are there.
I will win this. I will not allow It to suck me down into the dark depths that I know are there.
If you suffer from anxiety, don’t be ashamed like many of us are. Own it. If you’re down and out, bitchier than ever, edgy, scared, etc. all the time, go see your doctor. Life isn’t supposed to be lived in fear. Stand up and get the help. You’re not weak. You have more strength than you realize. You’re fighting something others aren’t.
I continue to fight a daily battle that is easing marginally day to day. But one day, I will beat this. I have faith in myself.
I am my own hero. I have “superpowers” that I’ve learn to cope with.
Did you hear that, anxiety? I’ll say it louder in case you didn’t hear me. I AM MY OWN HERO AND YOU WILL NOT HOLD ME DOWN!
If you or someone else is battling anxiety/panic, please visit your doctor. Here are some informational websites:
These are just a few. The internet is drenched in assisting websites. But! Do not try fighting this alone. It can lead to depression, which can drive you down a very dark road. Don’t let it get that far.
Photos from: Brainpick & Quotescloud