It starts with darkness.
You never really understand the dark cloud analogy unless you live it. Feel it. Breathe it. Become it.
I haven’t been to talk therapy for my Panic Disorder since I graduated from university in June.
It’s now January of 2016. And today, I went to see a counsellor.
It’s that time of year. Where bells are ringing, children are singing, all is merry and bright…right?
It’s a crisis of confidence.
It’s forgetting the next word of your sentence.
And it’s nothing.
It isn’t tangible.
It is lost.
It is hidden.
I never get the words just right
I don’t know what to say
I lost myself or so it felt
I watched me slip away
Like a metamorphosis
I grew a thicker skin
I let go of things that held me back
I wouldn’t let things in
And why should I?
I have so many reasons to love my life right now.
And I do.
At times I feel numb.
I cannot open myself up again because I cannot feel.
It’s not that I don’t want to.
Because I do.
I just can’t.
My focus is elsewhere.
My priorities are on everything and anything else.
My career is kicking off.
And I’m killing it.
I am dreaming bigger.
And still I am numb.
Time freezes yet I hear the ticking of the clock.
Where are you?
You are lost.
You are hidden.
I haven’t had a panic attack in months. I can’t remember the last time I had one. Maybe it’s not something I like to keep track of, so how would I remember?
All I know is I feel like I’m having a small one now. And it’s scary and it’s frightening. It consumes me.
I have tried everything: my breathing techniques, closing my eyes, counting to ten, looking at my peripheries in the mirror, talking to a friend, changing the subject, you name it.
I’m shaking and my heartbeat echoes in my head. My first tear just broke and I’m stumbling to catch my breath again. I’m writing this in hopes that it helps: that it forces me to focus on typing rather than break down into a million pieces.
School is the trigger this time around. It’s that time of year where I have a midterm, an essay, and two assignments due this week. I need to do well on this upcoming midterm because I did poorly on the last one. I need to do well on my essay because I am doing so well otherwise in the course. I need my marks to be good so I can go to grad school in the future. I don’t know what my future holds and the uncertainty is consuming me from the inside out.
All I want to do is cry. A good cry would help me right now. Instead, I feel numb. I feel emotionless. My vision is spotty and I want to just fall asleep. Just for a few minutes. But I can’t. When I rest my head, the panic sets in again. I have too much to do. I need to get some work done before my meeting tonight. I feel like I have chosen to allocate my time in the wrong ways. Last night I went out to the bar. I justified it by saying I wouldn’t realistically get much work done after 11pm anyways, so I might as well go out with friends. When I say it out loud, the reasoning seems sound. When I sit here right now, my body shakes at the thought of wasting my time.
I feel so weak. I have come such a long way since my battle with PD started. Am I just losing all over again? Maybe the battle was not even won in the first place.
Today’s blog title is inspired by “Going Away to College” – Blink-182
When I was in my second year, I took a class called Abnormal Psychology. At first, I loved it. I was so excited because finally I was going to take a course that interests me more than any other course I have taken.
The prof had a disclaimer at the beginning of the term: “Don’t try and diagnose yourself based on the symptoms you see here. Odds are, you will think you have something when you don’t.”
It wasn’t until the section on anxiety disorders when I started feeling uncomfortable being in class. I would feel as though the words he was saying were about me. I stopped going. At least until that section was over, anyways. The funny thing (and I use that loosely) was that I had not been diagnosed yet. So I made the brave decision to go to the doctor and well, the rest is history.
This year, in my fourth year, I am taking a class called Mental Health. On the first day of lecture, I started having the same feelings I did in my other class. I felt as though when my professor would say things like, “No one really knows what it is like to be someone with a mental disorder” and “there is a negative stigma surrounding having a mental disorder” that again, the words related so much to my life. So much, in fact, that I began to feel uncomfortable. My negative, intrusive thoughts floated in my head.
Had I been the same person I was two years ago, I would have either dropped the class or stopped going to class. Seeing how much I have changed and gotten stronger really opened my eyes that day. It has been a long time since I have had a panic attack. I couldn’t even tell you when the last time I had one was, that is how long it has been.
I have been so worried that with the feelings of loss finally sinking in deeper that I would start to feel my anxiety more than ever. Luckily, I have not. With the start of a new and stressful semester, I worry that being overwhelmed will evoke negative reactions but I feel confident that I will not break.
So here’s to smooth sailing in 2015!
Today’s blog post title is inspired by “Brain Damage” – Pink Floyd
With 2015 literally two sleeps away, and knowing I will be wine girl wasted tomorrow night, I thought I would take this time to write a letter to myself reflecting on the past year.
Dear 2014 Me,
Well, what a year. You started off the year with your great friends Ryan and Susannah and will be ending the year with them as well. Seems appropriate. At least this year, you can drink. Although you couldn’t last year (but did anyways), I’m glad you will be choosing wine as your beverage of choice to ring in 2015.
Can I just say I am so proud of you? You have grown so much in the past year. Maybe not physically, (damn 5 foot 3 forever) but as a person, I have seen you become such a strong person inside and out.
You got off your medication for panic disorder. Although you hate how it destroyed your metabolism, it reinforced those neural connections and since being off them, you can count on one hand how many big panic attacks you have had. You have learned to control your emotions and feelings of losing control. And after the year you’ve had, that is impressive.
You gained weight. Happens to everyone. You cried about it. Many times. But you know what? You did something about it. You got a personal trainer. That takes courage to stand up and say “I need to make this change for me.” You lost more than 15 pounds. And even more so, you’ve maintained it. That doesn’t happen to everyone and the confidence is radiating off of you. Keep up the good work in 2015.
You got a car. And your license! I am so proud of you for standing up to your dad and telling him what you wanted. You acted maturely and gracefully, and look! He gave in and made sure you got your first car. You got your license the day you booked your test. You worked so hard in practicing and yet another time that hard work has paid off. You got your insurance and your plates in the same day. You learned to drive on the highway and not be scared. You monogrammed your car (essential). This may seem like a childish accomplishment (as many people achieve this at 16/17) but things worked out in your favour with this stepping stone in place. Because after this, you needed that car. You needed your license. With this, you were able to come home more frequently as your dad got sick and needed you around more. And seeing him happy to see you every time made all the gas money spent worth it. You were able to be at the hospital with him, or be with your mom when she needed rides or moral support. You could use it to commute back and forth without having to rely on the ever-changing bus system. In 2015, I hope you use your car to take your mom to all the places she’s always wanted to go like Niagara Falls, or to visit family in Quebec.
You went through so much in such a short amount of time. Losing your dad was the hardest thing you have faced yet. It was something you always knew you would have to deal with, but no one knew it would happen so soon. Remember, everything happens for a reason. There is a reason you were meant to be in Brantford on November 19th. I hope you look back and be happy you were there to hold his hand and say goodbye in his last hour. I hope you laugh about the fact that he didn’t want anything like a funeral or a visitation (just like he never wanted to celebrate his birthday) but you threw a celebration of life together anyways because you wanted to honour his memory. I hope you think about the all the people who came despite the weather, or sent cards or messages in any way. Know that he loved you with all his heart, and even though he won’t be there to call every day, you will always hold his memory in your heart.
Within the same time period, a two and a half year relationship ended. You witnessed someone change before your eyes. You felt a lot of feelings. You also didn’t feel some feelings. And you know what? That’s okay. People change. Feelings change. Sometimes the person you think you’re going to be with forever doesn’t turn out to be that person. Only time will tell what the future truly holds for you two, if it holds anything at all.
November was the hardest for you. I think you will always look back on that part of your life and will forever be proud of yourself for how you handled yourself. You lost your dad, had a relationship end, and still maintained work and school all at the same time. I don’t even know how you did it, but you did it. I know you are still fighting the emotions that come with the aftermath, but know that you have the strength and support system to make it through.
Well, 2014 me, I should wrap this up soon. You need your beauty rest if you want to be functional tomorrow night. But let’s recap a few things:
You learned a lot this year.
You became a university senior.
You joined a sorority and found the true meaning of sisterhood. Hold onto these girls.
You found out who your true friends were.
And who they weren’t.
You made so many memories.
I look forward to seeing who we become in 2015 and what crazy shit we’ll do being 22. Cheers to a great year, and cheers to another.
The demons have been growing in numbers lately. I have yet to have a full-blown panic attack, but lately I have had moments of extreme anxiety.
I feel like it has a lot to do with the fact that I have not been writing as much as I used to. Writing is one of the outlets that really helps me get my emotions across and I need a good kick in the butt to keep writing. Keep letting the words flow from my crowded brain to the pages of my journal or the pages of my blog.
So here we are. Here we go again.