I called my sister. I was alone with my kids. Somewhere in my irrational mind, I knew I'd be OK, but I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to know that if I fell, someone would know and take care of my kids.
I made an appointment with my doctor. Anxiety.
"But it didn't feel like anxiety! It felt like I was dying!"
"That what a panic attack is."
Knowing I was healthy was actually enough to stop my panic attacks, but it sent me searching. How? Why?
It turns out anxiety and depression are both pretty common among special needs parents. We don't get enough sleep. We are often isolated. Even when we are with friends, it can be hard to talk.
Our friends are tired of hearing about medical stuff which is mostly gibberish to them. How many times have I stopped myself from yammering on about how the stupid pulse-ox kept me awake all night even though the sats were fine. We see it in their faces. They want to be sympathetic. They are sympathetic. But they are also tired of hearing the complaining. We are lonely. Our friends have become a "they."
It is so easy to feel sorry for yourself. It is so, so easy. When every story, even your happy stories, are so foreign to your listeners that when you get to the end they give you sad eyes. "I'm sorry."
It is so easy to lose your optimism. Take your eyes off the light for an instant and you are lost, wandering in a foggy maze of dead-ends and what-ifs. Troubles, real and imagined, haunted my mind. My kids. My health. My husband's health. Echoes of political unrest all over the world. Viral images from Facebook kept me awake. All these jumbled and more, shadowy phantoms.
I'd watch mind-numbing TV for the express purpose of numbing my mind. I'd choose shows for their vacuous appeal. As I'd finally drift off to exhausted sleep, one worry, any worry, would set my heart racing. There is just so much evil. I'd get sick and be up another hour trying to calm down.
I had never thought of myself as a weak person, but I was enfeebled. Broken. Depression is an ugly thing. And the worst part, it is self feeding. You believe terrible things. I felt guilty for feeling depressed.
Writing can draw out the poison. The internet is cluttered with people pouring their pain into an anonymous polity. I didn't even want to write. Words form thoughts, and to be honest I was afraid of what I might find if I started feeling around for form in that darkness.
I have an incredible support system. My husband, ever strong, gentle, and kind, would not let me wallow. My parents and siblings listened and took time to understand the medical gibberish so I never was isolated, certainly not as isolated as I felt. I do have friends- good friends, and some of them understand the gibberish. I don't know how I fell. If there is a straw it is well hidden in the haystack. I don't know how I got back up. That is a post for another day.
I do know how I muddled through and never actually lost hope.
People like to rag on habitual prayer.
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew 6:7
I imagine God as Eliza in My Fair Lady. "Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through, first from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?" Let's not analyze that too deeply.
Habitual prayer was my lifeline. No matter how my words failed or how deep set my fears, I was going to pray a few times a day. Morning and evening prayer. Grace before meals. Every time I was afraid. I couldn't see where I was going, but there was a thread to hold.
When I am scared, really scared, I recite the Memorare. When I think about it, I believe the words of the prayer but when I am scared, it is just words. Comforting, comfortable, familiar words. But, it is not a magic spell, it is a plea. I'm not babbling. I'm crying. And He hears. And He answers. Every time.