Five Years (almost) Crazy Free
Last night, I was putting Baby Bee to sleep when I made a rather big discovery. Something about laying on the floor in the dark, with my arm shoved through the crib rails made me remember that it had been five years since I had reclaimed my life (mostly) from panic and anxiety disoder.
Let’s back track some, shall we?
In May of 2o04, Big Daddy finally managed to get a new job. Not only outside of United Airlines, which was huge (things got to be not so good there after 9/11) but he managed to find one in Michigan. My home! Where I was from! Where my family lived. We moved, happily. I’d never been so happy.
In September 2004, Big Daddy left his position to start his own company with some investment capital. I was nervous, but felt then (and do now) that this was a chance Big Daddy had to take.
In October 2004 my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. Melanoma. I don’t have to tell you how that one turned out.
In the Fall of 2005 things weren’t going so well with Big Daddy’s business. We were having trouble with the tenant that was in our IL house. My Mom just wasn’t recovering and in October I’d hit the wall and that was when the panic started.
It was subtle at first. A little bit of freaking out. A few minor attacks that left me feeling frightened during their occurrence and drained the next day. I didn’t feel out of control, but I was aware my control was slipping.
On Halloween my heart rate shot up so high that I made Big Daddy drive me to urgent care. I was certain I was having a heart attack. Big Daddy waited in the car with the Princess. I think he knew that nothing was physically wrong with me, but my symptoms were so severe I couldn’t calm myself. Something had to be wrong. The way I felt wasn’t normal.
But that was the beginning. Just the tip of the ice berg.
Soon, I was afraid to leave the house. I was terrified to be alone. I was afraid that my panic was not panic, but something truly, physically wrong with me and that I’d die, leaving the Princess to find my body.
I actually worried about this people. For real. Deeply.
When Big Daddy’s company slowly fell apart and the only job he could find was back in IL, he’d leave us Sunday night and not return until Friday. Being alone was probably the worst thing for me, but there was no other choice. My Brother would come and sleep at my house most nights. I was just too afraid to stay alone.
My anxiety continued to spiral through the end of 2005 and when we had to move back to IL in 2006 (leaving my sick Mother behind), things didn’t improve. I was hopeful that the change in venue would cause the anxiety to subside. I was back in our little white house I’d missed so much. We were going to have the baby I’d longed for. But things didn’t get better.
They got worse.
I got agoraphobic. REALLY agoraphobic. I got to be so agoraphobic I couldn’t leave my bedroom. We spent weeks living in the master bedroom. Sleeping there. Eating there. Doing the Princes’s homework there. Playing with the Princess there. It took every ounce of strength I had to walk out the door and go down the stairs to put the Princess on the bus. I was certain I would die on the trip back up the steps, the excretion being the last my body could take and that, once again, she’d be the one to find me dead. This was such an overwhelming fear, that I’d make Big Daddy wake me up to ensure I was alive before he went to work his morning.
Can you imagine?
There was no rationality to this. Not one speck. There was no reason for me to be so worried about my health. I’d had a check up. I was healthy. There was nothing wrong with my heart. I was no more at risk than any other 29 year old, but I was so convinced that death was imminent and that I was going to leave my 5 year old to fend for herself, that I was paralyzed.
I couldn’t go grocery shopping.
I couldn’t go on road trips.
I couldn’t get in the car and buy myself lunch on school days.
I couldn’t go visit friends on weekends.
I couldn’t cook dinner.
I was tethered to my bedroom. The only place I felt safe. I ate little. It was too hard to venture downstairs. I was too afraid. I’d rather be hungry than conquer my fear. I’d rather be thirsty.
I chose to be crazy for those weeks. I can’t explain why. I don’t know, to this day, why I wouldn’t just take the damn pill, but I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. One day, in a fit of googling panic related things, I decided to do some reading about what my unchecked panic could do to my unborn baby. It was sobering. That night, I dutifully swallowed my half a pill and I swallowed one every day throughout the remainder of my pregnancy with Littlebit and for the following five years.
I’ll swallow another pill to night. Five years ago, I decided I wasn’t going to be crazy anymore. I told panic it couldn’t live with me anymore. Five years ago, I took back as much control as I could take and every day I make a choice to take it. Every day I make a choice. Sometimes I flirt with panic, like a person passing their hand through the flame of a candle, but that’s as close as it gets now.