Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Eye of the Storm

"I will get better, maybe not today, but someday" says the current motivational quote set as my phone background. Some days I think maybe today is that day, some days I think it's just out to mock me. Today is definitely the latter. You see, sometimes I think this day could really be the day I start to get better, but sometimes I lose track of how I'm ever going to lead a normal life. How am I supposed to get a job, move out or hold down a real relationship all while being as dysfunctional as I am now? On the good days I can see that I'm going to get better and that I'll have all the normality I want, but on the bad days I wholeheartedly believe I'll never get better. 

Yesterday was definitely a bad day. Let me walk you through it. My mum and I had organised to go into town and I was unexpectedly excited for it, that is until the day arrived, as is the case with most of my life. I woke up terrified and continued to be for the next few hours until we arrived there. We made a beeline directly to a cafe to supply my mother with caffeine and cake (both an essential food group in our household) before we took to shopping, and that's when it started. Almost immediately as we crossed the threshold into the cafe, my body began to reject the outing. Heart racing, hands shaking, vision blurred, breathing stopped. I hide the way I feel, silenced by fear and communicating with head nods or shakes only, my mum is always well aware when it's happening, so she leaves me to it. We take a seat and I continue to get worse, my skin begins to burn, there's feeling hot and then there's this. It's not internal, it's my skin only. The best part of it all is the dissociation, your body disconnects you from the space you're in and honestly it's my saving grace, forgetting where I am and feeling unreal protects me from flying off the handle. Feeling like I'm not really there means I stop worrying if I'll live or die, and as mad as it sounds it's the only way to bring yourself back down to feeling calm enough to stop the panic attack. Finally as I begin to come down I start to notice just how sweaty I am, I mean I'm not the exercise type but I know for sure no one sweats this much when they exercise. If it weren't for my tight jeans and absorbent flannel shirt I'm certain I would have been sitting in a puddle deep enough to drown a toddler. Sorry, gross. Anyway, once it passed I felt calmer than I had all week, it's a bitter sweet relief, and proceeded to enjoy my morning as if I hadn't just feared for my life. It isn't long ago that I wouldn't have been able to ride it out as well as I did, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to enjoy such a trip after a panic attack like that, so of course I was extremely proud of myself. 

However, the pride only lasted until we got back home. I have an issue with retrospect, I look back on good events and I see them through grey tinted glasses. I spent most of my afternoon moping, and occasionally crying because I'd hit this wall of sadness and anger that my body betrayed me yet again, after a long phase of handling myself well. That's the unspoken truth about anxiety, and especially panic disorder, there doesn't have to be a reason, there doesn't have to be signs that it's coming. Recovery isn't linear. It's a messy journey of huge highs and deep lows. Those who have never been through a mental illness often expect a cause, a reason, a specific traumatic event that set you off in the beginning and a reason it would repeatedly come back to you over the course of your recovery. I'm sorry, I wish with all my heart that there was a cause for how I am and a reason I'm triggered but the truth is that it's erratic and unpredictable and leads to a total loss of faith in my own body sometimes. 

Now is one of those times. One tiny incident that wouldn't even be considered "that bad" in the mind of the neuro-typical has set me back in my recovery, again. Honestly I try to avoid writing when I'm in a negative space, I don't like solidifying how I feel, I don't like keeping a reference for future use, but it was time to be brave for once. So here's my point, yesterday was hard, today is hard, but I am stronger now than I've been in years. So this time I'm not going to allow one panic attack to hold me back, sure I'm starting again from the bottom, but at least I'm starting. I will get better, definitely not today, but some day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky.

    I stumbled upon your writings today on XOJane and have been immensely moved by how much I relate to the issues you have raised. When your agoraphobia piece hit home with me in the midst of some anxiety I have recently been dealing with, I decided to check for more. I was also enticed by your natural talent at writing.

    When I discovered your piece on slut-shame, I was once again overwhelmed. Something I have been dealing with myself for ages, to the confusion of both me and everyone I have tried to explain it to, is the very same fear of dressing up as I would otherwise love to because I feel my femininity in doing so contributes to being a slut (you phrased it much better than I have been able to). It is always wonderful to see feelings you have had a hard time explaining articulated so beautifully and succinctly. Your writing has allowed to consolidate my own experience of this with myself, in addition to providing the knowledge that I am not alone.

    I just wanted to send you an enormous thanks, tons of love and immeasurable strength for whatever the future brings you, from one anxious yet kick-ass young woman to another. :) ♥
    You have made my day.