A glass of wine, a puddle of tears

raindrops-in-puddle-1171471-1279x849.jpgTonight I sit and drink my nightly glass of wine.  An all too frequent habit that I probably shouldn’t be engaging in at all.  It hurts my stomach and I regret it the next day but for the few hours I feel the alcohol in my body.. I feel relaxed for the first time all day.  I feel “happy.”  I feel carefree …I can breathe.

Today was hard.  Another set of doctor’s appointments, but this time for my sweet Claire.  She was diagnosed with a rare food allergy syndrome and the swarm of emotions upon hearing the diagnosis was overwhelming.  I had tunnel vision… tunnel hearing (if that is a thing).  My body started to escape itself… I wanted it to not be real.  I wanted to hear that I was just being an obsessive mother who was overthinking things.  I tried so hard to listen to the doctor all while processing my feelings and obsessing over whether or not she could tell  I was a million miles away.

And there was Claire.  Rolling around on the bed in the doctor’s office, her chubby legs kicking back and forth.  Ripping up the paper on the bed… bringing her left toe to her mouth to nibble on it.  I smiled at her and made a clicking sound with my mouth.  She returned my smile and there was the warmth.  Then… the guilt.

On the ride home I was silent.  Processing every real or irrational thought/feeling.  I was thinking several thoughts at once.  I could feel the grief and fear in my chest and could trace it to my throat.  We got home and my girl smiled at me again and this time I returned her smile with tears.  I changed her diaper and began to sob.  The sobbing left me no room to breathe and soon my husband noticed and so did my 3 year old son.  I was falling apart.  The room began to spin and I sat down in a puddle of tears.  My husband was pleading with me to tell him what I was thinking …but I couldn’t.  How could I tell him this was my fault?

When anything goes wrong… I immediately blame myself.  I should have eaten better when I was pregnant.  I should have tried harder to breastfeed.  I did this to my little girl and it hurt more than I could tell him.  He says that my mind is leading me in the wrong direction.  He said that I made this up and there is no scientific evidence to prove that those things have any correlation with her food allergies.  I didn’t care.  If anything was wrong with her it had to be because I did something wrong, or I missed something… or I could have prevented it somehow.

Really, there was no one to blame for it so I did what I always do.  I beat myself up.  I was angry, upset, scared and had no one to blame… so I took it out on myself.  Only recently have I been able to forgive myself for giving up breastfeeding too early… and with this, all of those feelings of guilt came back.  Could I have prevented this for my child if I had been mentally well enough to continue breastfeeding?

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know if it would have changed anything.  It probably wouldn’t have…but today, blaming myself was the easiest thing to do.  It was easier to lash out at myself and hate myself than to deal with anything else.  I wanted to hate myself more than I wanted to fear the future of introducing new foods, etc.  Hate is easier to experience than fear.  Anger is easier to identify with than grief.  So I jumped to those familiar feelings as a defense mechanism… to spare myself from feelings I couldn’t manage in the moment.

Tonight, I have this glass of wine.  My escape.  Another way of putting off feelings I don’t want to feel.  And tonight, in this moment, that’s going to have to be okay.

 

The glimmer

I’ve had panic attacks and anxiety my entire life.  I understand that it gets better… it gets worse… it feels okay… then you feel like you’re dying and its just kind of trying to figure out how to ride the rollercoaster.  It really sucks actually.  I’m tired of it truthfully, but it never stops and I just have to keep on.

At my last therapy appointment I spoke very highly of Prozac, credited it to making me feel like a new person.  I felt like I could enjoy the moment, interact with my kids a little better, interact with others in general a little better.  It felt like it took the edge off and I needed that.  My therapist was so happy to hear that I was getting some relief.  When I was telling her about how great I felt I knew that I was jinxing myself… but I didn’t want to think that way.   I just wanted that moment.  I needed that moment.  Even if I knew it would be gone soon enough.

Not to get into too much detail …but something set me off and it was over.  The panic attacks came and they were intense.  They hurt.  I felt crazy.  I went to the ER.  I called my doctor a million times.  I asked the same question 8 different ways, 30 different times trying to find some sort of reassurance about what I was stressing about.  My kids saw me run around with my head somewhere else completely.  They saw me pacing the floor and although I was with them physically– mentally, I was a million miles away…

In a way I felt manic.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I felt like I was crawling out of my skin.  I couldn’t eat.. I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t do anything.  I only felt okay when I was driving somewhere.  I didn’t want to sit still… I wanted to run away.  I needed to be somewhere else.  My body knew it.

When I did finally get some sleep I would dream horrible things.  My dreams are rehearsals for real life dangers and often times I can’t even escape in them.  This month I’ve had crazy dreams but perhaps the craziest of them all… was a dream that was wonderful.  It was so out of the norm for me.  It was so short but it meant everything.

In the dream I was at the beach.  I had a bikini on and I didn’t care how I looked in it.  I was sitting…staring at the ocean with the sun on my back.  The sun was warm but it wasn’t burning me.  It was perfect.  I could feel it and I didn’t worry about melanoma or …if I was getting sunburned…or if I even had sunscreen on.  I just knew that in the moment I felt really happy and relaxed and well.  More importantly- I was IN the moment.  I was actually present in a moment… even if it was in a dream.

I thought about this dream throughout the week.  I thought about it when things felt like they were becoming too much.  When I was losing my mind … the dream was always there.  It gave me a few seconds of calm in a really bad storm of emotions.

In therapy last week I cried for a solid hour.  I spoke about my fears and the rollercoaster of my emotions.  I spoke about the fact that my kids are seeing their mother in such turmoil and how I hate that I’m doing this to them even when I’m trying SO hard not to.  I told my therapist that I was just ..tired.  I’m so exhausted.  Thinking 3289 thoughts at once takes so much out of you.  Having 2 kids takes so much out of you.  Working part time and being a mom full time takes a lot out of you.  I’m just… tired.  I vented and I wept and I finally just felt paralyzed.  I couldn’t move anymore.   I just wanted to sit there until something changed.. anything.  I didn’t even want to blink.  Everything hurt.

And then… there was the dream.  Before I knew it I was telling my therapist about the dream.  I had no idea WHY I was telling her about this dream that I hadn’t told anyone about …but there I was …explaining it in such vivid detail.  My crying stopped, I felt warm.  I felt the warmth of the sun in me when telling her about this dream.  I needed this moment.

I looked up to find my therapist crying.  She had chills.  She said something I will probably NEVER forget.  She said, “Catherine… that is the glimmer.  That is the glimmer of hope.”  She explained that my body, deep inside… knows what I need.  It knows how to heal itself.  It knows how to carry on.  It knows exactly what I need to do to feel better and have a fulfilling life.  My anxiety is just beating the hell out of it.

I realized that there is a threshold with pain, fear, anxiety.  Everything has felt completely out of control and mostly because I feel like I can control everything and realizing that I can’t …kills me.  I couldn’t control this dream, or any other dream that I have but somewhere deep inside me… I was given a gift from myself.  I was given that glimmer.  That hope.  I was being reminded that there is a way to feel something other than pain.  Maybe it lives inside of me.  I just have to find it.