Happy 2nd of July! I figured I would wait until today to send this out because who really checks their emails on Sunday? I mean, I do but it’s usually spam and then I’m resentful. Also, I’m just going to be honest. I finished this up today. It wasn’t easy to write, but hey I’m here now right?
This isn't a sexy newsletter by the way. I'm still figuring out formatting. It isn't witty, there are not any GIFs, I didn't edit it heavily. I just thought it was important to talk about and I wanted to be as candid as possible. This entire month I was stuck on what to write about. Initially, I wanted to talk about an experience at work I had and talk about how sometimes amidst chaos, you have to stay calm, dive in, and get shit done. I had my first anxiety attack in three years last week.
The day before it happened, I had started to feel a little off. My anxiety tends to take the form of paranoia. The first stage is that I start thinking that everyone is trying to inch themselves away from me and ultimately leave me. I start noticing every detail about that person, the pauses, silences, reactions to conversation, and all of it starts to look like a slow fade (or the beginning signs of ghosting). I then start panicking about how much I let them in and all the ways they could possibly hurt me by leaving. What things they would say, what they would do, to reiterate that they don’t want to be part of my life.
Monday, I woke up and felt like I had already chugged a pot of coffee. I sat down to eat breakfast with George and felt a lump in my throat. Like I was about to go on stage for a big presentation that I did not prepare for. I got in the car and felt like someone had dropped an anchor on my chest.
“He’s going to leave you, they’re all going to leave you. Everything has been a joke. You’re better on your own. Run, leave before you’re left. Get out of here. No one wants to be around you and they never have, they were just pretending.”
The paranoid voice inside my head was screaming at me as I tried to do everything in my power to ignore it.
My breathing got heavier and heavier until I couldn’t control it anymore and I started sobbing. I started trying to imagine my life without my friends, without George, without my job. I didn’t want to imagine life without any of that, but that voice in my head overpowered any logic at that point. I started to feel how I did when I was going through that dark time a few years ago. I knew that feeling well enough to know that this wasn’t about to get better. I took a deep breath and fished out my insurance card to dial the mental health hotline.
At first, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to call that number because calling it would have meant admitting that I needed help and that I was not ok. I’m not the kind of person who likes to ask for help.
When I was at my lowest point, I remember people randomly pointing out what a positive, smiley person I was. I remember being proud that no one around me knew how deeply I was suffering. I would work a full day, get in my car, and cry the whole way home. Since that summer, I had promised myself that I would only move forward and upward from there. I would never revisit those feelings again. I had spent three years healing and I wanted to be healed. I wanted to turn to the next chapter of my life and not look back.
Calling that hotline would be admitting that those issues I faced were not in the past. It would mean admitting that they were still a part of me and probably always will be.
I thought for a few seconds more as I pulled the car over to the side of the road and help the number in my hand. “Nothing can be worse than this feeling right now.” I said out loud to myself as I dialed the number.
“Hi, yes. Is this the mental health hotline? I’m having a panic attack and I need help.”
As soon as I said that, I immediately felt some of the weight get lifted off my chest. They put a counselor on the phone and I spent the next hour and a half talking with her about the stress, anxiety and paranoia. We figured out that the fear of getting left is residual from those issues that happened a few years ago. She explained to me that knowing it’s there and understanding it is better than thinking it’s gone and having it lie dormant only to pop up at random times (like this). She gave me some tips on how to calm myself down and how George can help.
It took a lot of time for me to process all of this. I felt way better after talking to the counselor but didn’t feel 100% myself until a few days later. It was hard to process that I might not ever fully heal, that this anxiety developed because of the issues I faced and will always be a part of who I am.
If you want to know if I’m ok, I’m am and I’m not. I am still coming to terms that I might never be the same person I was before that summer, but I am healing every day. I am finding different pieces of my self-worth in everything I do. I have an incredible life partner who has my back no matter what, and I am surrounded by people who support, love, and inspire me.
Writing this was scary (which is another reason why I probably stalled on getting it out). I still don’t like talking about my feelings or feeling vulnerable but after talking about this with a few people, I realized all of them have their own fears that they are working on. So, I wanted to be open because if you have gone through something like this and felt alone, I wanted you to know that you are not. None of us are alone in this. If you feel anxious or scared, I urge you to talk to someone. It might be a long road, but we are all going to be ok.
I hope that you face this month with your head held high, and a mind full of confidence.
Give ‘Em Hell,