This is hard.
And a really new thing. New, like, baby chick new. Like, two days ago new. Well, my realization is new, but the history of what I'm about to tell you is at least as old as me.
This moment is very fresh and some would advise against publishing my un-vetted, un-in-retrospect feelings on the Internet. But, I thought, maybe someone out there can sympathize or tell me it'll be okay or give me some tips? I also thought: but, I don't want my in-laws or my sister or my aunts and uncles to know!
Ultimately, that thought compelled me to share this. Because, I present so much of our lives on this website; it was my original premise to be transparent, to share the good and the bad of parenthood, of being a family, of your beloved mommy; so it would be just plain wrong to act as if today was no different from yesterday.
Basically, I have anxiety issues. And, currently, am developing a self-diagnosed panic disorder. It's so melodramatic! But, I'm highly self-aware so, I both laugh and cry to think of it! LOL! Waaaah!
Well, there's lots that I can say and will continue to say, background and foreshadowing and a whole story that was and is and will continue to be.
For now, suffice it to say, I've endured two panic attacks in one week. (All on our sunny, happy vacation! Which, I do not mislead, was thoroughly happy and sunny in-between the panic attacks.) And that was the beginning of the end.
This is a stream-of-consciousness email I wrote to Lolopop this morning, so sorry if it doesn't all make sense or you're missing some background info, but here goes:
I'm going to my PCP on Wednesday, hopefully to get a referral to talk to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist or whomever. I plan to insist on it.
Not sure if it's a curse or a blessing, but it's really been the past year that I've started to realize my "suddenly not feeling good" is related to my anxiety levels and are basically panic attacks. And I'm starting to recognize my triggers, primarily travel, crowds, social situations I have pre-existing dread about and being in places where I feel trapped. This is on top of whatever general stress, worry and anxiety I have in my day-to-day life, which I tend to discount, given that I live a pretty blessed life. But, it's become a vicious cycle, fueled by not taking care of myself, not eating often enough, not drinking enough water, ignoring headaches or other minor ailments, not exercising or having time to de-stress, drinking too much coffee (damn you, Keurig!), trying to do much for too many.
I think back to incidents as a child that I'd characterize as panic attacks, and to times in college, just getting on the airplane to leave that I thought I wouldn't make it. But, I always did. It's with the addition of children, of these little dependent creatures, that my anxiety has increased, that I've had more frequent and stronger, more uncontrollable panic attacks.
So, this realization is what's driving me crazy. I understand and can explain and intellectualize my anxiety, but I can't help it. While in retrospect I can see what triggered my recent panic attacks, in the moment I didn't know they were going to happen. It was unexpected, I thought everything was fine. And then I'm consumed by a rush of adrenaline, heart-racing, nausea and (yay!) diarrhea. Then, it's a snowball, a monster, I'd even go so far to say that it feels like a demon takes over and I can't control it. And I want to. And the anxiety about throwing up, about how to get out of the bathroom, let alone the HUGE Los Angeles Zoo (!), about beadle and the girls and their health and happiness, about my inability to take care of them, let alone myself; it all just builds and builds and I can't stop it.
Beadle's being good and supportive, as I talk and talk and talk about it. And I sound so sane when I talk, but I feel like a crazy person inside. I'm just living in fear of when another panic attack will happen. Especially since beadle is leaving for a week. I can hardly look at the girls without starting to feel sick with anxiety that I'll have a panic attack and be unable to care for them. I'm afraid to leave the house, my stomach turns when I think about standing in line to buy groceries.
Each night, since Saturday, I think: I just need to go to bed, to end this day, to reset and in the morning it will be better. This morning has been fine so far, but all we've done is dropped beadle off at BART. I have plans this afternoon to drop the girls off with Dina and go grocery shopping and I'm sure I'll be fine. But, this little demon looms in the back of my mind. I just keep trying to distract myself, to play with play dough and keep talking to the girls, to read something on my iPhone when my thoughts start to turn. But, even that feels strained, I know I'm just tricking myself and I feel a little fake, like I'm just numbing my senses, taking my glasses off, trying to concentrate on nothing at all while trying to concentrate on something specific.
I know, in general, what I need to do. I took some time to do some breathing and yoga last night. I took Maribel to the doctor yesterday, because I had to and I was focused enough on the task at hand to not even think about having a panic attack, until we were sitting in the waiting room and the downward spiral of "what ifs" and "where's the bathroom" and "what do I do with Maribel?" began. But, we were called into the office, I distracted myself with my phone and we made it home fine, my heart racing nonetheless. Beadle was home so I made us take a walk to McDonald's to get ice cream, but I couldn't go in, for fear of the smells and people. I didn't even feel like eating ice cream!!!
It's just the thought of a panic attack that gets my heart racing, so I feel paralyzed, I don't even want to enter that territory. And I feel so so so so mentally ill. Like, literally. I'm a crazy person right now, my brain is eating itself.
Beadle said, "you're just over-thinking it." To which, I replied, "that's exactly the point."
I'm pretty sure that over-thinking and excessive worrying are in my genetic code. So, I accept that my anxiety is a pre-existing condition and that I need to be intentional about, going forward, trying to maintain a general anxiety level 3 or 4, rather than the 7 or so at which I usually operate.
So, again: take care of myself, physically, emotionally, etc.
But, it's the meantime that worries me.
Maybe another day without incident, another night's sleep and I'll stop worrying about panicking?
Or, just give me the drugs for now!!! I'll talk coping mechanisms and guided imagery and general de-stressing-counseling and exercise later!
Can't wait until you guys get home! To give me big hugs and let me cry and tell me everything will be okay.