Emotional Chaos

Originally posted on July 17, 2014

I know when the emotional chaos of panic and depression is coming. I am well aware of this mayhem peeking up over the horizon of my mind. There is a shift that I can’t explain.

It begins when I  wake up in the very early morning hours, disoriented and in the throes of panic. My heart is pounding and I am disoriented. At times I can’t feel my limbs and find myself unable to swallow and gasping for air. I have no idea why it happens in the middle of the night. There are worse feelings than waking from a dead sleep in the middle of a panic attack but at the time I would be hard pressed to name one.

During the next couple of days, I will know there was an episode of anxiety but it is cloudy. My mind only allows me a vague memory. It’s just a short reprieve for the real fun that’s about to begin.

It usually takes a couple of days before the depression takes hold. When it does, I feel completely powerless. The rational part of me tells me that all I need to do is take a bike ride or a shower, do something normal and keep putting one foot in front of the other and my thinking will return to normal. I can resume my life.

Sadly, the irrational demon that lives within me has other plans.

These days between the panic and the depression are as normal as any other and I function as such. I will regale my husband with tales of the day with exaggerated, yet genuine, vigor. I will have seemingly boundless energy. I will laugh loud and love hard.

Then the agitation begins. The smallest of things will irritate me. Social media becomes an enemy. I can’t read status updates without feeling an anger that sometimes borders on rage.

Writing is impossible since I can’t keep a coherent thought in my head and everything is tainted with and edge of anger and resentment.

My patience with my kids hits a low and even a goodnight kiss that feels like the flick of butterfly wings on my cheek makes me shudder. Anything my husband does makes me clench my jaw and bite back hateful words that aren’t a true reflection of my feelings, just the beast trying to create a foe, provoke a fight.

I will stop in the middle of flipping through the mail and slide to the kitchen floor because suddenly I am terrified and it feels like a safe place to be.

A drive to the grocery store because I am out of coffee seems to take Herculean effort and everyone in my path irritates me. I hurry, needing this chore to be over because those few moments exhaust me beyond reason.

I feel an overwhelming urge to cry. Let me release the havoc. Please!

But I can’t. Not a tear will come.

I want to give in and give up. These are the days I want to get in my car, drive away, never look back. I want to walk away from everyone and everything. I don’t answer my phone. I don’t interact. I simply shut down, going through the motions of every day life with no enthusiasm and forced interest.

I just want the peace to come.

Finally, thankfully, it does come and there are no casualties. Unless, of course, I count the part of my soul that has been beaten to a pulp and is now cowering in the corner, licking its wounds, waiting for the next round.

I am grateful to be strong enough to know that this is a war I may never win but that the battles eventually end. I used to self medicate with alcohol but that is on longer an option for me. By the grace of God, I don’t even consider it when the demon comes to call.

I am grateful that the episodes are sporadic and short-lived.

I’m grateful that my husband recognizes these moments and is quiet, but present. He knows and surely it irritates him to lose me during these days, perhaps even makes him a little sad though that isn’t his nature. On the rare occasion I take a step or three too far he doesn’t hesitate to let me know it is enough.

I have come to realize in the past year that writing can work much like therapy. I have met other bloggers that deal with depression and other mental health issues and do so bravely. We seek interaction, validation, and support….and find it.

I know that someone will read this and understand it. Still someone else will read this, see themselves and feel less alone.

While I have written about my anxiety and panic, this is the first time I have ever written about my battle with depression. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I am well aware of what it is and why it comes and I accept that.

Alcoholism and addiction tried to destroy me. They didn’t. Panic and depression won’t either. These things are part of me but……

they are not all of me.

 

 

Photo credit: Zahira via photopin

Learning to Fly

As you read this I am likely on a plane, medicated and trying desperately to focus on the destination.

I’m not a good flyer. I never used to be afraid to board an airplane. I loved everything about traveling. Well, not the packing. That just sucks. I can never get all the shoes I want to take to fit in the suitcase. And as I type that I realize that not one of you cares about that first world problem.

I remember in days gone by loving the whole experience; arriving to the airport, schlepping bags in, managing through security, and finally…finding enough time to grab bags of peanut M&Ms and a few useless, trashy tabloids to wade through on the plane. Never in the terminal. No. That was reserved for Starbucks and people watching.

Today, I am terrified and I have been for days. I have been a raging banshee despite my resolution (and failed attempts) not to be. My family probably hates me a little right now.

But they’ll get over it.

Won’t they?

The last time I flew, which was this same time last year, I had a god-awful panic attack mid-air that had tears streaming down my face and an absolute conviction that I couldn’t swallow or breathe. I was wild-eyed and convinced at any moment that I would fly out of my seat and scream for someone to let me out, let me out, LET ME OUT!

At 30,000 feet.

I never left my seat and I am really hoping that won’t happen today and have taken steps to insure my sanity stays intact.

In all honesty, I had this exact same reaction on the monorail at Disney when it stopped on the raised tracks for ten minutes so my uneducated guess is it is not only flying……it’s being stuck in a tin can full of people. 

Wish me us all luck.

So, having said all of that, I have put up a couple of recycled posts for the coming week. Some of you wonderful folks who followed me here from my first blog have already read them. I do notice that  I have a few new people who have joined the ranks (for which I am incredible grateful) and these may give you a deeper look into my psyche.

Have a wonderful week, friends.

Aloha!

 

Photo credit: Liane Metzler/unsplash.com

 

I Am Fine

It’s always nice to be asked to write for someone else. It is especially flattering when the person asking happens to be one of the most incredible people you know. HastyWords is a talented writer and poet, having such a gift with words. It is my absolute pleasure to be a guest on her blog today.

If you’re the least bit curious, and you know you are, you should click below on the age old question to read my thoughts on the ever popular answer.

How are you?

Comments are closed here today.

 

Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire/gratisography.com

Kryptonite

And I’ll let it be known
At times I have shown
Signs of all my weakness
But somewhere in me
There is strength    –    Relient K

It happens every time I am getting ready to leave on a trip far from home. Something in my mind just trips the switch and I get crazy. Angry crazy. Stupid crazy. Irrational crazy. Paralyzing crazy.

My perfectionism, my need for control, my need for all people and all things to be in all their right places, and my ability find and throw a monkey wrench into every aspect of a plan……

These things are my kryptonite.

As an introvert, I don’t stray far from home. But every once in a while, as a member of a family who craves adventure and amazing new sights I must leave the safe confines of my home and my five mile radius. I love the idea of going somewhere new; seeing lovely sights, eating decadent and different foods, seeing wonders not in the above mentioned five mile radius and making memories with my husband and children. The actual doing is a whole different animal.

I am weak. I am afraid. Of what?

Outside these walls, I have no control. Without it, my imperfections are visible and I am vulnerable, a state I find most unpleasant and completely unacceptable.

While the ‘suck it up’ and ‘never let ‘em see how you really feel’ mentality I grew up in has its advantages at times, it has done nothing to serve me in learning how to deal with uncertainty and how to take risks. Sure, I do both of these things. But I don’t do them well. At least not on the inside. You see the smile in the photos, maybe even a little campiness. The internal picture is much different.

It is a fight. Each and every time.

I realize that this need for perfection is limiting. It causes anxiety, depression, and isolation. I manage to make it through most situations with an attitude of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ but the cost is immense. I feel like I have gone five rounds in the octagon and afterward I am spent and suffer true post-traumatic stress.

This makes me sound insane.

Mostly, it makes me angry.

These ridiculous issues have the capability of stopping me from enjoying every moment of a life that is likely half over. I spent the first half standing up against the wall declining nearly all offers to dance, rarely stepping into the arena. I don’t want to live like this anymore.

I want to be all in. I want to know that I can do things and if I fail, I have failed triumphantly. I don’t want to care what other people think of me because in reality, it is none of my business. I want the smile to be genuine and the laughter to be so lengthy and strong that the muscles of my belly rebel. I want my children to look back on the photos one day and say, ‘That was the greatest trip ever.’

About every single one of them.

My perfectionism, control, and cynicism? It’s all shield and armor.

From fear.

Fear of failing.

Fear of never trying.

Fear of regret.

Fear of death.

Fear of life.

Today I am making a conscious decision to wield my sword and smash the bloody kryptonite. I will run and leap into the arena and should I stumble and fall, I will get up, dust myself off and leap again.

I am not fool enough to think that I can smash what has been building up for years upon years in one fell swoop. I may only take out a chink or two.

But, oh, what if I can?

Gaslighting Selena

Having a twelve year old daughter I am exposed to, willingly or not, much of the new music out today. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, MeghanTrainor, Five Second of Summer, One Direction and, because once in a great while a bone is thrown, Maroon 5.

Just to name a few.

One of her favorite artists is Selena Gomez. I remember in years past watching this adorable girl in Wizards of Waverly Place, smart-mouthing and trouble-making her way into our hearts. She was growing up beautifully and readying herself to take the world by storm as some of Disney’s darlings manage to do. She was even doing it with her tongue in her mouth and all of her clothes on, never once sticking her hind end into a married man’s crotch.

I digress.

Aside from Spring Breakers, young Selena seemed to be making good choices.

Enter Justin Bieber.

In November, my darling girl and I sat watching the American Music Awards and listening to all of the music she loves and most of which I can barely comprehend. Just before a break we caught a glimpse of Selena backstage preparing for her performance.  She would debut her newly dropped single ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’.

The young beauty took the stage barefoot and wearing Armani. Before the song started there was an audio piece that played which is apparently the prelude to the song. I could barely hear it but have heard it since and I can’t help but feel like crying just reading these words now:

When I was on stage and I was thinking of … I know him though, and I know that I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn’t do to hurt me.But I didn’t realize that I’m feeling so confident and feeling so great about myself and then it [can] just be completely shattered by one thing … by something so stupid. But then you make me feel crazy, you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.

The song’s melody is lovely but its words are heartbreaking. One string of lyrics immediately caught my attention and I knew who this young woman was singing about. This was no celebrity standing there emotionally choking out her newest single.

I know I’m acting a bit crazy
Strung out, a little bit hazy
Hand over heart, I’m praying
That I’m gonna make it out alive.

This was just a girl, heart broken by a boy, trying to make sense of the mess she was in. In pain and blaming herself with no understanding as to why. She is also very clear in stating that she will not listen to anyone’s advice because, well, the heart wants what it wants. Sanity be damned.

Save your advice ’cause I won’t hear
You might be right but I don’t care
There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants

The first thought that came to mind as a former victim of domestic abuse was gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic used to twist a victim’s reality, make them question their own actions, their own perception of events often leaving them mentally disoriented and their sanity stretched. It is known to be exercised by unfaithful or abusive spouses and sociopaths.

And apparently Justin Bieber.

You got me scattered in pieces
Shining like stars and screaming
Lightening me up like Venus
But then you disappear and make me wait
And every second’s like torture

It took me a few plays and finally looking up the lyrics on the internet to realize that the situation Selena sings about is an all too common occurrence and a nightmare for me as a parent and domestic abuse survivor. My daughter was playing this song on repeat for days.

Did she understand the words and the meaning behind them or is she just listening to a song by an artist that she loves?

Will she remember these words in a future relationship should a partner, God forbid and God help him, make her feel this way?

Am I doing all I can to make sure she has the ability to trust her own good judgment to keep this from ever happening to her?

Will she…….?

Am I……?

Is she…….?

I hope and I pray. But only time will tell.

Why am I so affected by these dark words sung by a pop princess?

As I mentioned, I have suffered this abuse at the hands of more than one significant other. As an addict and alcoholic I was always swimming in a cesspool of low self- esteem and had a special gift for attaching myself to the most charming of liars and manipulators.

I found myself constantly second guessing myself, remembering the intelligent, sensible person I once was and wondering what happened to change all of it. I made excuses for my abusers’ behavior and apologized at every turn for every move I made. At times I found myself completely dependent emotionally and financially on an abuser. I felt helpless and hopeless.

It has been quite some time and I made it out but I can tell you that it is a wound that can still be torn open and the blood of memory can still seep through.  It is hell to have to live through and recover from.

Domestic violence is alive and well in all walks of life and we are getting to see it played out day after day in the media. Physical abuse is sickening to watch but it’s not a party to watch a young girl come apart mentally on stage either. This is simply one example. Imagine, if you can, these same situations that we are not seeing or hearing about.

It is far, far too many.

The bed’s getting cold and you’re not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I’m not alive until you call
And I’ll bet the odds against it all

To Selena I say thank you…for the beautiful performance at the AMAs.  I also say to her, and to all of those who feel her words on their heart….

Walk away while you still can.

If you still can.