Fight or flight response. It is a natural response to stimuli that the brain interprets as a threat to inducing bodily harm or death. But what if those feelings don’t just show up when an undeniable danger exists? What do you do when many everyday acts can leave you feeling wrung out and jittery? I know that I present a brave face here on my page, I give you the good, the bad, and the not so pretty moments of life. In the last 5 years of this blog I have had more name changes and address changes than one person should do, but I have never really held back anything. You have read of my son’s drug addiction and recovery, the death of my father, aunt and my mother last year. I have poured my heart on being a sexually molested child. One would think that with revealing all of that here I should have it all together. If only. I can tell you that I know my anxiety itself became insane after the birth of my 3rd child. His pregnancy kept me sick and I gave up a job because of the sickness. It seemed no matter what I did I was vomiting every time I turned around. It was so bad I would wake from a sound sleep already doing the I am going to hurl gag.
My doctor insisted the nausea was all in my head, that I was really having panic attacks. He pointed out the fact that my 2nd child had been hospitalized the year before and on life support with no idea if he would make it, he did, but the stress did not help. After his round in the hospital I stated I did not want anymore babies and took birth control, only to learn that I got pregnant and was nearly 4 months along when it was discovered. Despite blood tests 2 months before to ensure I was not so I could go on a pill and come off the depo. My husband worked a 3rd shift job, leaving me home alone with 2 kids and me with a propensity to go into labor with no warning and usually at night. It sounded logical, until it wasn’t. He even sent me to a therapist who worked with me on calming techniques to stave off these ‘attacks’. Those attacks led me to lose nearly 32 lbs while carrying my son, leading to an u/s at 32 weeks to see if he was growing well. He was and was born 2 weeks later at a whopping 8 lbs 10 oz. If I had carried to term they guessed he would have been almost 11. That is not something I want coming out of me anywhere naturally. His labor was mainly back labor, and as expected I went into labor with no warning and no real hard contractions to speak of, until I had the one that took my breath and left me vomiting. Sure signs for me that we were way too close to baby being here for comfort. I arrived at the hospital dilated 9 . I don’t play when it comes to birthing no babies. He was healthy despite a drama filled delivery that left me bruised up one arm and across my back. Daddy had gotten snipped while I was pregnant because I was not taking any more chances.
For roughly 3 weeks after he came home I was not sick one time. But then it slowly began coming back. At 3 months old I had an emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. Everything I had been through were classic symptoms for a failing gall bladder, even through pregnancy. Yet no one listened to me. By that time the damage had been done. Every ache and pain sent me into panic mode. Nerve endings rejoining after my surgery would send me reeling, their sharp stabs taking my breath. I was certain they had missed something. My fear of having something majorly wrong expanded in less than a month. I found myself literally unable to drive, unable to handle being on the interstate, a trip to anywhere that required a car was a major thing for me. I would literally not sleep the night before, my mind a vicious cycle of what if this or what if that. I feared leaving my kids without a mother, after all I had come very close before, that was proof that they could miss something. When my anxiety got so bad that I basically refused to leave our house farther than the front porch swing my husband took me to the local mental therapy location in our town.
There I was decided to have basically every form of anxiety, Post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Who the hell wouldn’t be depressed in the life I was living? I was afraid to sneeze, cough, if my kids got so much as a runny nose I would panic, remembering how close I came to losing one before. Their answer was Paxil. I begrudgingly took it, hoping that it would at least take an edge off for me. To regain some form of normal, some form of life outside of the 4 walls of my home. It didn’t help. All it did was make me so groggy I just didn’t care. I didn’t care if I took a bath, if I made dinner, if I did anything really. My best friend decided that enough was enough. I quit taking the pills on my own but still found myself trapped in my home. It started with walking out my door and off my porch into my own fenced in yard. Little by little I would go farther each day. After nearly 2 weeks I was walking to the end of my road, still in sight of my house but at least it was a start. I found that walking helped me some. I could walk and sing, or pray or what ever. It didn’t eradicate the panic attacks but it definitely put a slow down on them. I went from literally 23 or 4 a day to maybe 2 a week, but even those were so draining I would lay in bed for hours afterwards, just sleeping.
I can honestly say that for a bit, after I was reading through the bible and came across Psalm 91 I had a pretty good handle on them. If I felt one building I went straight to the bible and right to that verse. I learned reciting it out loud stopped the vicious cycle of thoughts of impending doom and fear. The brain cannot do that and comprehend the written word well enough to speak it out loud at the same time. Some will say any verse would have worked from any book. But Psalm 91 is an absolute story of King David having a panic attack, word for word it describes it in great detail. I thought I had it whipped.
I took a trip out-of-state, twice, one time staying gone 3 days. Something I never would have done after the attacks began. It took me nearly 9 years to get there but I did it. I began driving in Lexington with my mom, even though my heart was pounding and my palms were sweating I did it. Because I had to care for my mom and get her to the doctors and such. I thought it was gone. Recently I began having issues swallowing. I noticed it one day when I was eating a sandwich and suddenly I felt like I could not get the bite down my throat. It literally felt as if it were hanging right at the back of my tongue and just short of my throat and no matter what I did I could not get it up or down. That has been occurring for the last 6 months. I have yet to go to a Dr. because I at first thought it was because my sinuses were so full, and it seemed to only occur when they were giving me issues. Recently some family friends were in and we went to lunch, I literally had to push my plate away because the food became slimy feeling in my mouth and I could not swallow it, despite several attempts. I finally gave up. The friends felt it was stress related. At the time my son’s gf was in labor and he was at the hospital, I was dealing with my mom’s estate and life in general. I am inclined to agree with them now.
It is not a feeling I would wish on anyone. I can be fine one minute and eating dinner and just as suddenly without warning I can’t swallow another bite. Trying to only leads to me nearly choking on the food, leading me to cough it up and spit it out. The more stress I am under the more often it happens. I have now realized that my anxiety is slowly creeping back in, just not the way it did before. I have days occasionally where I insist on someone going with me if I have to drive somewhere. I have had a few spells of feeling hot and faint, sweaty palms and flushed skin, I try to bring my thoughts back under control. My kids have learned to tell the signs and will usually attempt to lure me into conversation, knowing the act of simply talking to someone can break the cycle. I am not going to let this win. Right now I am barely able to swallow coffee at the thought of hitting publish. I am second guessing my words, my fears. Have I said too much?? Will they now think am a freak?? But I know that it is just as painful to feel as if I am the only one who is dealing or has dealt with this. I know that isn’t true but it comes with the territory. I think the one year anniversary of mom’s death approaching, and my basic emotional shut down following her death to keep sane is finally catching up to me. It is also one of the reasons I have trouble writing. It messes with my thoughts so horribly that I cannot bring words together coherently to save my soul. I am the face of anxiety disorders. Now you know.