Panic Attacks and Hilarity

I can tell the anticipation of my next post is reaching epic proportions so I will not delay any further. My fans are anxious to see what this post is going to reveal. Well, so am I. Quite honestly, I have no idea where we are going today.

Maybe we should talk about my week. I work. A LOT. Today I worked my 27th day in a row. I am off tomorrow. Then back to work for 12 days. I am also an insomniac. When I say I’m tired, that is a general, all the time feeling. When I say I’m exhausted, I haven’t slept in weeks. Right now, I’m exhausted. I don’t think I have had a full night of sleep without prescription assistance (meaning 6 hours, still with interruption) since February of this year. Even with my little chemical friend, I usually wake up numerous times, getting 4-5 hours.

I am not a fan of sleeping pills or anti depressants so I won’t take an Ambien unless I am really struggling. I’m not judging people that take these medications regularly, I just personally do not like the side effects I have from them. As I say this, I must also remain honest, admitting to you that when I was given the Ambien and the Zoloft in February, I was also given Xanax for panic attacks. So I do take medications as needed. The Xanax I requested to stop my anxiety from causing my blood pressure to rise giving me a quicker sense of calm. I actually planned to take the Zoloft but after feeling lethargic and nauseated for 2 weeks, I had to have an emergency surgery (NOT related to the medications). I just never started back on it. At that time, I also stopped the Xanax and the Ambien, as well as not continuing on the pain killers. I was quite proud of this new, less stoned version of myself.

This week, I took both. I began having some panic attacks again in the last few weeks. I am functional through them. No one knows I am having one. I don’t scream hysterically, cry uncontrollably or have full body shakes. Well, I guess I do have some shakes, usually in my hands. And crying, depends on what song is on the radio. Most of the attack is internal though, I FEEL like screaming, crying, crawling under my desk. I FEEL like grabbing my keys while running for the door. I FEEL like curling up in bed with my covers over my head never to surface again. I FEEL like telling people off, trying to bring them just a small glimpse of the pain that I am in non stop. Instead, I pop half of a Xanax, clinch my fists, grab a tissue and sit with tears rolling down my face as I silently work at my desk.

This week, I had several co-workers stop by and ask how I was doing, well meaning, genuinely concerned friends. They were hoping I was going to say that I am great. That I no longer miss Andrew. That my smiles are not hiding my sadness. The response they got was a red faced sob. I burst into tears every time. Typically, I am able to give them the obligatory smile, politely nodding and giving the expected answers to the questions until I am able to satisfy them into thinking that I am doing just fine.

I know I mentioned on a previous post that that I have great friends and family. Let’s discuss this real quick. These co workers have seen me through some UGLY experiences. I adore them. I know without a doubt my life is blessed in a huge way because every day they love me no matter where I am. I only hope I am repaying the blessing. My job is not the single, solitary place I have friends of steel. I have a wonderful group of friends from church and I am very close to a lot of my family. Surprisingly, even many of my friends on Facebook have reached out to me, despite not having been overly close to some of them in years. I am surrounded by pillars of strength in each arena of my life. I never take this for granted so I tell my friends and family I love them at every opportunity. I had learned this lesson even before losing Andrew. I lost several family members within a very short time frame and began to understand how limited and unknown our time with people truly is. I do not want the people in my life to question if they are loved by me. So I try to say it often, but more importantly, show it constantly, show it unconditionally.

Last night I had dinner plans with a group of friends from church. A couple had moved out of state and were home for a few days. We met for pizza, grabbed some gourmet desserts and headed back home to sit and catch up. As this group of 6 chuckleheads sat around talking and laughing, I was snapping pictures on my phone. We played a game and I finished the night with an eyeliner handlebar mustache (Insert the obligatory “I mustache you a question.” comment) and glasses. We ate, bonded, laughed, played, but mostly, we loved. No uglies. No panic attack. No Xanax. My heart was full of love from this silly group and it gave me hope that my future won’t continue to be painful. It was also full of hurt, because I knew that if Andrew had been here to join us, he would have loved watching me drive away with that mustache.

I guess there is no “lesson” of the week. I promised my raw reality, this was it. Panic attacks and hilarity. I realize that is a bit of a wide spectrum of emotions but if you were in my head, bouncing around in this A.D.D. mess, you’d get it. That’s my life every day. So I guess that’s it for now.

Just in case you don’t hear it from anyone else, I LOVE YOU! Have a phenomenal week.

Dear Andrew, Month 4

My dearest Andrew,

Today marks the 4 month anniversary of the day this world lost you. As I sit here trying to create a piece worthy of your life, I realize how short I will fall. Even still I cannot begin to think of the numerous ways you touched my life, my soul, my heart, without bursting into tears. Just today on the radio was a song that flooded my eyes and as the tears ran down my face I sat in disbelief that you are gone.

When we met over 5 years ago, I had no idea the direction life was going to take. Little did I know that you would become my best friend, my confidante, my motivator, my love. When you sent me that first text, I was like a silly school girl. Giggly, nervous, excited. I still was to the very last day 16 months later. You brought honesty to my life, youth to my soul, you retaught my heart how to love without expectation and condition. I hope you knew this.

I spent a week looking at your pictures, not sleeping, not eating unless being force fed, sobbing every few hours. My brain screamed for logic of this loss, my heart screamed for you to tell me this horrible event was a nightmare and I would wake up to see you grinning at me. I waited for my phone to ring, for your texts to resume and save me from the grief that was enveloping me.

Since you have been gone, so many things have happened. I moved into my new place. Truth be told, my church moved me, I was too numb. In too much shock to think, breath, or brush my teeth. When I went back to work, I had to face the people that knew both of us, yet knew nothing about us. You would be so proud of how well we had kept it from them. There were moments when I felt like a sideshow act. People that knew who I was, but didn’t know me would walk by to see how I was handling this. Other people never said a word. But everyone knew. They were shocked by losing such a sweet, funny, amazing co-worker, they were shocked we were together, they were shocked I was there when you left us. So was I.

I lost my son two days after I lost you. His behavior had reached a new milestone, one you were there to see. I had to finalize the heartbreaking process afterwards. I couldn’t believe that in 2 days, my world had imploded. I can’t think of one event without thinking of the other. I ache for both of you. But I know he is here, breathing, living while you are not.

I have learned many things about myself since you passed. I have learned that I am worthy of respect. I have learned that sometimes the filter I had glued to my mouth is best put aside. I have learned that it’s ok for me to still ache, yearn and hurt from losing you. I have found that crying in the car or at work to a song that reminds me of you is perfectly fine. Even more, it’s normal. I no longer care if the world loves Matilda. Right now, I love very little. I love the people that hug me day after day, the people that brought me food after my surgery, I love the people that listen to me say your name or tell a story about us countless times, I love the people that have touched me in ways they don’t even know about. I don’t love my clothes, my possessions, my jobs, my place. I have learned to only love people.

I have also learned numerous things about others. They don’t all have the capacity to love like I do. This isn’t a flaw, it’s in their wiring. It’s not my job to fix them, my job is to love them anyway. Most people cannot handle grief, in themselves or others, especially a deep heart and soul grief. Many people change the subject. Many pass over it. Many people just ignore me. I can’t lie and say these reactions don’t impact me. These are people that I had thought would never leave my side. But the truth is, I just make them uncomfortable. Their discomfort does not create a whole heart in my chest or heal my broken spirit. So we live side by side in an awkward silence filled with superficial conversations. Maybe even real and personal conversations, as long as they are not about you. I have also learned that it is ok to create boundaries for people that are too toxic. I can still love them but it must be done from afar.

So here I am. 4 months later. 25 pounds lost.  A good night’s sleep a distant friend I last saw 5 months ago. I haven’t washed the jeans I was wearing that night. They still have your blood on them. I can’t throw away the piece of tape you put on my thumb that night to save my nail from breaking off. Your picture is my phone wallpaper and several are taped to my walls, even in my walk in closet. I am lonely all the time. Even when I am surrounded or laughing with my friends. See, the adage that time heals all wounds is a misnomer. What happens with time is the ability to push aside the urges to cry all the time. At some point it did feel as if I had cried every last tear out of my body. They returned. But it becomes easier to hold them in. The overwhelming sadness underlies every other emotion that may cross my face. People see me smile, they think I am fine. They don’t see me lying in bed every night unable to sleep, crying into my pillow, begging God to rewind time and bring you back to me. He has yet to answer this prayer. I am beginning to think He won’t.

I still love you with all of my heart. I miss you every second of every day. I don’t know how long this thing called grieving will continue or if it will linger on forever. I don’t mind it too much. If I can’t have you here with me, I need you close by in my heart and mind and on the wall of my closet. I pray you are having fun in heaven. I know I will see you again one day. In the meantime, don’t be disappointed in me for crying over you. The impact you left in my world was deep and true.

Until we meet again, all my love,

Matilda

Just a Little Background

forgetmenot5Have you ever thought your world was complete? Not “own the yacht and the summer home” complete, but as far as family, friends, life, you were feeling fairly blissful? Have you ever had a piece of that ripped away from you? It’s tough. I was that girl. I fell in love and married a man I had known since I was a kid, adopted a son, bought a house, drove a nice car, had a job that allowed me to be where our son needed me. Slowly that pretty little world began to crumble apart. I now say I have nothing. I have lost my family & my home. Life trials are not a new thing in my life. I have always had a difficult life. How far back, you ask? Think conception. But I will save that story for another day. I mention it just to ensure you that when I say I have struggled, that is very true. Most of my life I have faced abuses, I have lost numerous loved ones, as well as having dealt with many personal struggles. I know that doesn’t make me anything special. You couldn’t throw a nickel without hitting someone that can say the same thing. Literally, every person in the world could testify to the same vague history. What qualifies me as a great all knowing blog writer? Nothing. I can’t claim knowledge over loss, over abuse, over personal struggles. All I can claim is survival. I’m not even an expert at that. But every day, I get out of bed and I do it.

So recently I went through more loss than I ever expected. This is life. People are always going to leave our lives for some reason~getting busy, going to school, having kids, moving, divorce, family squabbles, or death. In my recent loss, I lost three people all at once. It was a domino effect starting with one little act of rebellion. It led to the horrifying end of a mother and son relationship and the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, lets call him Andrew, you may be seeing his name frequently.

Based on my previous experiences, I have found that it is safer to repress emotional trauma. I always thought that meant I had dealt with it. Following the death of my friend, I have discovered that repression does not equal healing. It is going to have an impact somewhere, somehow. When repressed trauma rears it’s ugly (see, that darn word again!) head, it can take the shape of many things, including depression, self sabotage, or worse, suicidal thoughts. Now, those of you that love me, have no fear. I am not suicidal. I do see a therapist that specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I trust in God deeply and firmly believe in Romans 8:28 that states “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” So while I am deep in my grief, and it’s subsequent depression, I have hope in my future.

So why read my blog? I’m not sure. But I believe if you continue, there will be plenty of hope as I move forward in this new chapter of my life. A chapter without my family, one without my best friend, but also one with an amazing circle of friends and family, people loving and supporting me in my darkest hours. People God knew I would need in order to survive this ordeal. I also believe that through my writings, I will be helping others heal. Others who may be fighting to climb out of bed each morning may discover that every second we continue our fight is a significant victory over the darkness that threatens to overtake us.

So stick with me.

I will overcome, I have to honor my memories of Andrew and fight for my future in the way he would have expected and encouraged me.

I will overcome, my heart is home to the greatest overcomer in history, Jesus. No, this will not be a blog full of religion and pushy faith based turn or burn guilt. It will be a blog full of my journey, and as a Christian, that is part of my journey.

I will overcome, I have many friends struggling with depression and overwhelming lives. There needs to be a “real” conversation about this. There needs to be a “real” accounting of a life that ebbs and flows with the tides of our existence. A tale of authenticity to create the desire, or at the very least, the courage, to continue to get out of bed.

This may not have been a very encouraging post. It’s just our beginning. We have no idea where we are about to go or how we will get there. Stay tuned for the next one. In the meantime, keep rolling out of bed. We can do this thing called life. Together.