Monday, March 10, 2014

A constant struggle

The past few days have been very, very difficult. Perhaps it's when I set high expectations for the days to come, and they don't go as anticipated....maybe that's when I start to feel unraveled and defeated.

This weekend, I pushed myself to go with Mike to my parents house for a nice Saturday lunch, complete with my favorite Chinese takeout from my hometown and my mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies. The morning was surprisingly good. Had a breakfast drink (I have myself in a routine of drinking Carnation Breakfast Essentials because it's good to have something in the AM, even if my appetite isn't raging.). Took a Xanax and kept the morning free of anything stressful. Even made some of my chamomile lavender tea for the road (I swear by it... it makes for a very serene morning). Packed my purse with my panic attack pack, so to speak - a soothing hot water bottle, lavender aromatherapy salve and my iPad loaded with Kindle library books. The first hour of the ride was difficult, but I understood why. For those that weren't aware of this, I hadn't been 10 minutes outside of Quakertown since Christmas. So seeing the big outside world for the first time in over two months was big.

Halfway through the ride, Mike craved an energy drink (God bless my partner for making the morning drive after working 4pm-midnight beforehand) and my thimble bladder couldn't take it. So we stop at a familiar service station off I-380N. Big mistake. Crowded bathroom=me twitching and hyperventilating until we were back on the road. Turns out that in the throes of fight-or-flight, ol' thimble bladder has a bigger capacity than I ever imagined. And this all set the tone for the visit.

I missed my parents so much up until this point (they're about two hours from where I live), and I spent most of the visit on the sofa laying with my water bottle and hating myself. I was too scared to move, scared that the panic wouldn't subside, not wanting to ruin the day or worry my family. Starving but so amped up that I could barely swallow my own saliva let alone the delicious food they arranged for me. Dreading the ride home and wishing immensely that we lived closer to my parents. Being so scared that even my own hometown doesn't feel "home" enough for me to feel safe.

A massive amount of guilt comes along with having an anxiety and panic disorder. Saturday and the days that have followed since have been one big self-hatred fest. Everyone around of me has been so proud that I got out and did what did. But all I can see sometimes is the failure, the loss of normalcy...remembering that at one point in my life, I was brave enough to graduate college and then go on to earn an M.Ed. Brave enough to be an "extreme couponer" of sorts and spend an entire day shopping for our household in search of the best deals. Brave enough to present to groups of 10-100 people and to enjoy it. Brave enough to enjoy my food without worrying how it will affect me. Brave period. I now hide in our small apartment and lean on Mike both physically and emotionally on my excursions out. Victories. Two steps forward.  Followed by a false sense of defeating the disorder, then setback, guilt, another step back...and so it goes. And so it goes.

I firmly believe I was depressed for about a year or more leading up to my breakdown, but to change this much as a person seemingly overnight? I have never felt the rug be pulled out from under my already-unsteady feet that much in all my life. I am grieving the death of who I thought I was and he grief process is not neat or tidy in any way,

Is this negative self-talk toxic to my recovery? Absolutely. Do I know that I'll have an upswing and come out of this dark period to a less dark place? Yes, but it won't be what it was before my breakdown. I have a lot of work to do to get there. I hate that. Even on my "good" days I'm not good.

Two steps forward and one back, or is it the other way around? Not sure tonight.


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