Thursday, November 20, 2014

Breaking the Silence

I cannot believe it's been nearly a year since I've blogged about anything. Needless to say a lot has happened over that course of time.

Last year, just before the holidays, things got a little sour here in our house. First there were some major things going on in our relationship, which led us to couples therapy. Let me just tell you, that was the greatest thing I think we ever did for US.

After things settled down there, I personally began to go through a very dark time. And then, the panic attacks began.

Most people who know me probably know that I have this somewhat seemingly irrational fear of death/dying. And suddenly it was like everywhere I looked someone else was dying around me. Celebrities, mutual friends, someone in the news, in the community. And well, I freaked.

I'm not afraid to say it now. I was paranoid that I would be next. That I would leave this earth and leave behind my husband and my two precious babies. Or even worse, I'd loose them.

When my anxiety first spiked, I itched from head to toe. Then one day I was on the treadmill at the gym and couldn't catch my breath. I know now that was my first panic attack. Time went on and I kept trying to just, forget about it, but my triggers kept popping up everywhere.

One night I was getting ready for bed and the underside of my arm started itching and I lost it. In exactly 2.5 seconds I had myself convinced that I was dying of cancer. Why? Well because my dad died of cancer and job long before he died he broke out in this rash from head to toe and he was constantly scratching at his arms. So sure that meant I had cancer and was dying too.

This was after a terrible and very very real feeling nightmare that my hubby had been killed in a work accident.

Long story short, I ended up having a mental breakdown and spent the better part of 2 or 3 weeks hopped up on Xanax and literally lying either in bed or on the couch drifting in and out of sleep. For three weeks I was a zombie and completely relied on the help of family and God to watch over Addison and Blake.

Christmas? We went to Christmas Eve service where I spoke with out Pastor who prayed for so hard for us and then spent the rest of the service sobbing in my seat. I came home, we read "The Night Before Christmas" to the kids and everyone went to bed. The next day I felt very somber as we opened gifts at home, and then we went to visit family... where I promptly fell asleep on the couch right in the middle of it all.

If you know me at all you would know this is so totally out of character for me. I am just constantly plowing forward and moving on.

I followed up with a new doctor. We changed meds and suddenly around New Years Day I started to come out of the fog that I felt like I had been living in. It was such a slow process for me to get back on my feet and feel "normal" again.

Now a year later, I have learned a lot. About myself. About my anxiety. About my family. And about people around me.

I learned that at some point my body and mind were just exhausted from every.little.thing. that had been thrown our way over nearly eight years we have been married. And my anxiety is my body's overreaction to stress.

I racked my brain for months in therapy, not understandin why, at a point when things were mostly calm, did all this happen. And I learned, it was because for the first time since we found out I was pregnant, I was able breath, relax and process what had happened. That's when reality sunk in.

I could have died. I could have gotten an infection from being ruptured for so long and died. While trying to protect our children and keep them inside as long as possible, I.could.have.died.

We could have lost one or both of our babies. We came very close on several occasions to nearly loosing Addison.

I lived through some, a bit mild, PTSD as I came to terms with all that had happened.

I had to learn to let go of the guilt. Guilt about what could I have done different. Was it some how my fault? Every emotion I felt back in the NICU came back full force. Like I was living it all over again.

Guilt over taking time for myself, ever. After a solid three years of meeting Addison and Blake's every need. Working so tirelessly to get Addison to safely enjoy eating food. The hours, weeks, months, years of therapy. Where was there time for me?

Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of people who offered to help. But Hubs and I? Well felt it was our cross and ours alone to bear. And there was no way we could risk any of the horror stories happened if we went anywhere and heaven forbid there was an emergancy (mainly with A and her feeding tube). At the end of the day, I was utterly convinced that I was the only other person who could handle her needs. Was I wrong? Probably, but I also viewed it as a short term...thing...and I was bound and determined to see her through it.

Now, I know and understand the importance of being able to have even just five minutes to myself. To just, breathe.

And I've learned to ask for help when I need it.

I've learned to manage my anxiety so much better, and the attacks when they happen.

Now, I take a pill a day and attend therapy weekly to work on myself and learn how to continue to cope. Some day, we may try a different approach, and stop the medicine, but I'm not there yet, I may never be. And I'm ok with that.

Looking back I could probably say "could have, would have, should have"... but instead I'll say this, I'm beyond thankful for where I am right this minute. And even more thankful for all those who stood by me and continue to support me.

As we approach the time of year again where things all went south, I wanted to take the time to speak up and speak out. Because I know I am not alone. And I hope someone out there comes across this and reads it, and realizes they aren't alone either. Not just that, but because I've learned silence is not the answer. If I am silent, then the people around me don't know how to help. Most times during an attack, I just need time and space. And usually after, I need a little reassurance and maybe a hug. ;)

I'm also working extra diligently to make sure I find some kind of small time for myself and hoping that the same thing doesn't happen again this year. I'm learning to cope with that worry and fear as I continue to me strong for my family.

So if you see me and I somehow seem different. It's because I am. I've cut out sstressor and triggers wherever I can. Because now, now it's time to do for ME.

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