I am overwhelmed (in a very good way) by all the love and support me and my family are being shown right now. Several people have asked more specifically what is going on. It's exhausting trying to explain it over and over again, so I thought I'd write a separate blog post about it so that I can refer people to this when they ask.
I hate writing these things down, not because I'm ashamed or worried about how they will be received (I'm honestly way past the shame of mental illness), but because I don't want to appear to be complaining or to be seeking sympathy.
I will share this though, because I know people care and want to understand, and because I have the hope that it can help someone else know that they are not so alone, that they are loved, and that there is always hope. The thought of helping others with mental illness is carrying me right now (along with all the love and support of course).
"It" (we'll go with that super undescriptive word since I don't have a label for what is happening) starts in the morning right when I wake up. It’s like having a panic attack, but for absolutely no reason. I used to have panic attacks sometimes in the past, but they were always associated with thoughts. Now they come on without a reason and stay for as long as they choose to stay. I can't work through them since there is no thought related to them or causing them.
So what does "it" feel like specifically? Well, "it" makes me anxious, which makes it so difficult to breathe (as if someone is putting all of their weight on my chest), makes my heart race and beat so hard (enough that I'm always sure that it must be visible to everyone), makes me super nauseous (to the point of throwing up), makes my legs shake uncontrollably for hours (I literally can't stop shaking even though my muscles feel so tired and sore), and makes it very difficult to sleep (even though all of this is incredibly exhausting!)
I feel very overwhelmed trying to do anything like dishes, folding laundry, or making a phone call, so I spend much of my time sitting on the couch, physically and emotionally sick, unable to do much of anything. Poor Brooklyn has been watching more movies than I ever wanted her to watch, but it’s all I can do to get through the pain at this time. She loves the "Happy Grinch" and "Mr. Body and Sherman" though, so I'm learning to feel ok about not being a super active mom right now, since I know I will get there again. We snuggle, share a blanket, and lay down together to watch the movie, so I'm not completely missing from her life, even though I'm not mentally present all the time.
Sometimes, I suddenly feel surrounded by darkness and fear. My mind becomes filled with racing thoughts, and I literally cannot concentrate no matter how hard I try. At the same time, my heart wants to scream out for help or call someone to talk through it, but I can hardly breath and it's so hard to talk through the shaking. I've found that it's easier to text rather than talk, and I'm thankful for the friends who are willing to text me for hours on end until the worst of the pain passes, all while I am curled up in a tight ball on the couch, praying that God will give me the strength to bear my burdens with faith, courage, and optimism. When most of the deep and intense pain is gone, I feel so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
After several days of this happening, the feeling of panic goes away completely and I am left feeling either numb to all emotion or in a deep sadness. When I am feeling numb, I often feel some anger and irritation. It's completely awful not feeling anything and wishing that I could feel the love I have for my husband and daughter. It makes me want to isolate myself from both of them, so that they don't have to see me, when my heart doesn't feel what I want it to feel for them.
When I am feeling sad, I cry for several days, sometimes with a reason but usually without. I guess I should specify and say that it's usually without a thought reason. When it's not related to my thoughts, it's because I feel a thick darkness around me that can only be somewhat relieved by crying. I will cry several times a day and feel debilitated by the sadness that has no visible cause.
That's basically all of "it" in a nutshell. I went to the hospital yesterday, because the intense feelings (the anxiety ones) have grown to the point of being almost unbearable. While in the ER, I was able to get a medication that stopped the shaking and the severe anxiety for a time. I also got some packets of information about how to get an appointment sooner than what I have been able to get by calling around (like hopefully getting in to the doctor in a week, not several months).
Although my mind is broken, and I need help fixing it, my spirit has never felt stronger. I often don't feel the heavy weight of these burdens. God has given me the wonderful gifts of hope, faith, joy, and perspective. I know without a doubt that something incredible will come out of this. I know that this is my vehicle to helping others and making a positive difference in the world. I'm so thankful for all of this pain, which I know is not my own thought, and is a feeling given to me by Heavenly Father.
If you want to help (it's so hard for me to ask, but I know that I need to learn to accept help, so I'll just throw this out there), I could use the most help with people texting (not calling) to check in (it makes such a huge difference in helping me get through the day until Kyle gets home) or taking Brooklyn for a little while so I can rest and not feel the weight of guilt about not being a real mom at all right now.
THANK YOU to everyone who has expressed love, concern, and a desire to help. I am indebted to you forever!!!