For all my striving toward being healthy both physically and mentally, for all my desperate hope to defeat my body of MS, to remove toxicity from my life, to calm the mind via meditation, to grow spiritually through yoga, I have to admit that I feel I have failed. Haven’t I?
February was a month of turmoil. And while I wish I was the person who takes all challenges in stride, I’m not that person every day.
One night, I found myself kneeling on my bedroom floor, gasping for air. I couldn’t breathe. I sensed an impending doom. My son was sound asleep on my bed, while I feared the next second was going to be the last breath I would ever take. The fear of dying exacerbated the panic attack (or was I hyperventilating?) and I started to speak to God. I don’t pray. But desperation makes you do things you don’t normally do. I begged Him. And I focused on my breathing. I inhaled deeply and exhaled it all out. I did that about ten times until it subsided. I got up slowly and walked to the living room, draped in despair and broke down. I cried convulsively. The way children cry sometimes when they don’t get what they want. Only I did. I got what I wanted, which was to stay alive. My heart was still beating. I was breathing normally again, with a little chest pain, but I was breathing.
(Depression. Panic attacks. Anxiety. A constant theme in my life. If I think back on when it started, it was in my early teenage years. However, I have had resources to help me overcome all this. To help me understand what triggers it and why did it all happen to begin with. What happens to us in our childhood stays with us for many years, if not forever.)
This past month my husband was away and while he was away my body shut down. My mind became unbalanced. To be fair, I’m dressed in depression. I have had a handful of depressive episodes throughout my life, some chronic, others brief. Experience has taught me nothing because I was somewhat unaware that what I was feeling was completely evicted from life. I am caught in the middle of what once was and what my heart tells me might be coming, with no real means to move forward or backward. I can’t say I’ve lost sight of who I am. But I do feel I have lost control of my life and that my hopes and dreams are suspended. What is it that I deserve anyway?
I have a chest injury. An intercostal muscle strain. There’s pain and it has left me feeling dysfunctional, as a result, I can’t do yoga until it heals, which leaves me feeling even more hopeless. I spend my days gasping for air, fighting the attack, gasping for air, again and running to my room to take a Valium. On another night I was hyperventilating with my four-year-old son standing right in front of me. I had my phone next to me ready to dial my best friend’s number. Many of you may think I should have been ready to call 911. But since she knew what was going on I knew that if I called and she heard me gasping for air, she would know what to do immediately. Once the episode passed I cried. Thanking God I survived yet another panic attack. And although my heart is healthy, said my Cardiologist, my mortality is always on my mind ever since I became a Mom.
During the most difficult days and there were plenty, I learned that if my husband isn’t here, I am alone. And in conversation, a perceived inadequacy was explicit, “….there are moms who work full-time, have 3 kids and can manage it all. Why are you having such a hard time?” To hear that in a moment when I had just conquered, for lack of a better word, a panic attack, was tough to stomach. However, I didn’t question my capacity for being a Mom. I questioned hers. I’m not afraid or ashamed to ask for help. To say I need help. To admit that Motherhood has its hardships. And I’m especially not apologetic about not always have my sh*t together. If I berate myself, it isn’t because of others perception of my competence or incompetence, in this case, it’s because of my weakness, and that is my incapability of coping with stress, which speaks to some hidden part of myself. Though I have learned techniques and I apply them, stress always wins. I acknowledge that. But the honest kernel about this thing is that I am strong. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here. And hard times, expose your weaknesses, but hard times are also more apt to showcase your strength.
So the next time I get the panic attack, which in my case can be in the next five minutes, I’ll do what my therapist said. Don’t fight it. Confront them. Let them come on. Does it sound funny? Counterintuitive? Perhaps. But I’ll do it. I’ll walk to the mirror and say out loud, “You want to come? Come. I’m not afraid of you.”
And now with this confession almost done, what have I learned? I know that the most resounding parts of this month, the parts I will carry with me moving forward will be the revealing difficulties, the challenges, and that I am alone, with no one to count on. I have learned that I am depressed…again…and in deep distress. My therapist is recommending antidepressants, which contradicts my convictions on keeping my body and mind healthy. I learned how easily one can become dependent on Valium, but the temporary relief is worth it for now. I learned that due to my chest injury I can’t do yoga until it heals. That naked truth definitely had me go deeper into a black hole. And yet, due to my strength and overcoming my attempt at conquering my stubbornness, in the interim, I’ll have to find something else to do. – And that is run.
I have lost pieces of my heart throughout different points in my life. The remaining pieces are still strong and moving forward.
P.s. The Dance Of Anger.