Another day bites the dust

A ticking, tocking clock, the drizzle of rain, my roommate’s voice emanating from her bedroom, my dog a ball of energy and then there’s me on the couch… observing it all.

Today was a long day. Was out late last night with the handsome fiance man and his seminary friends and therefore didn’t get much sleep. Had to do a huge project from my weekend class this morning before I drove the hour to class, sat there for four hours, drove the hour back and finally collapsed.

Mental illness makes things even harder. I get tired quicker, and then when I’m tired, I’m REALLY FREAKING TIRED. Tomorrow will be another long day. Oh well.

I did finish reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist which was one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. The way she describes life, family, friends, heartache, food, and fellowship around the table. Oh my, I was charmed. I look forward to reading Bittersweet by her next. Anyway. Finished that tonight which was a great way to wind down. Sipped on some beer, cuddled with Emma, and relaxed. Books like Shauna’s remind me of the need to rest, relax, and the need to do things that actually help me rest and relax. So for example, reading, or blogging, or reading blogs… but not Twitter or Facebook. The latter tends to frustrate me and make me anxious. Too many posts from people that remind me of things that set off my anxiety and panic attacks.

On the whole though? It really has been a good week for my mental illness cocktail. While depression has definitely sunk it’s talons into my flesh, anxiety and panic have mostly fled. For that, I’m ever so excited. I think the diet change and understanding more and more about mental illness has helped me a lot. At least this week 😉 I know best that it’s never just “gone.”

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Joyful she arose from the ashes of what was and had been.

Can you feel that in the air? The sweet density of warmth gathering its strength, getting ready to envelop the world at any moment. Any moment. Any moment.

It feels like for the last year and a half I’ve been waiting for warmth to envelop me. Rather, for the world around me to be different – better. I’ve been anticipating a day when I wouldn’t be a person of anxiety. A day when I wouldn’t fight to believe that each breath was not my last. A day when I would pass minutes, maybe even hours without a panic attack. My poor nervous system, physical body, emotional health, and spirituality have been through the wringer. I’ve written countless thoughts and posts mostly private, some public, of this nature and there’s no one happier than I to see pages turning and a light at the end of the tunnel.

Warmth is gathering its strength and I’m on the precipice of jumping headfirst into it.

With timid  joy, with hesitant hope, with steps of uncertainty I’m walking forth into a new phase of life.

It’s true what everyone had been saying all along. I’m stronger now. I’m different now, more Samantha than ever before. Jacob and I have a strong, healthy relationship that has weathered a long storm and we are seeing beautiful fruits of our persistence and commitment. What once made me so angry and helpless to hear at the time, I’m finally able to accept and acknowledge. Truth comes with time, and time steadily passes.

In the next couple of months there will be a lot of huge life changes. While I’m enjoying the journey to get there, I’m really ready for the next step. I feel SO DONE with this period of life and I’m ready… to burst forth in a glorious way. Healing happens when and where you least expect it and while I’m far from wholly recovered, I’m pleased with what’s on the horizon and who I am standing above the ashes.

A Myriad of Thoughts

One of those nights after one of those days of racing thoughts, each one faster than the last and less examined than the one prior. Sometimes it’s good to have a quick flow of thoughts, other times, such as these, it’s more a frenzy of this and that, and I don’t know what it all means.

First I’m thinking about making the food in the fridge last until Friday, then I’m thinking about getting Emma trimmed and her nails cut, then I’m thinking about driving to Idaho on Saturday or Sunday or Monday, then I’m thinking about school and which assignments I have yet to finish, then I’m thinking about brain tumors because it’s a norm in my life to think about something deadly at least once a day, then I’m thinking about who I need to contact, then I’m thinking about my wedding invitations that I just received and who I need to mail them to, and the I’m thinking about God and lent and how I’m not always doing the best at what I committed to do this season, then I’m thinking about ruined relationships and hurt friendships, then I’m thinking about people in America that are oppressed, and then I’m thinking about wanting to write but having too many thoughts to hone in on one, then I’m thinking about writing something worth reading, then I’m thinking about wine and how it’s tasty, then I’m thinking about Lindsay Lohan and her new show on Oprah’s network and how broken she is and how some of her freak-outs mirror my own freak-outs except that I actually have to go to work and she has an option to show up or not… AND!!!!!!!!!!!!

So on.

So on.

So on.

Do you see me?

Early on when I was first dealing with my panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, full time school, and being a nanny to a 7 month old 55 hours a week I would get overwhelmed and lonely. Weird, eh?

True story.

Another true story is that sometimes I would take little Lia out to a coffee shop, the library, Gymboree, or the store and just hope and hope and hope that someone would see us and talk to me.

A lot of the last year has been spent alone or with a little tiny bundle of joy and needs. It was alienating and odd. My life up to that point had been consistent with PEOPLE. And while being around people often triggered my panic attacks I still needed it. And sometimes it got unbearable. It felt like my life wasn’t real. Nobody saw what I was doing 90% of the time… was it even really happening?

And so, out I would go. Desperate for eye contact, a head nod, a “hello”, an acknowledgement that I was in fact a real, breathing, human.

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Today, a year later from when the worst of it all began I was walking around Fred Meyer shopping for dinner and I noticed how quickly people averted their eyes.

We don’t really like talking to each other. We don’t even necessarily love to say hi to a stranger. It can feel awkward, uncomfortable, forced. But today I was aware of how good, healing, and healthy it can be just to look at someone in the eye.

Because sometimes we just need to be seen.

A Quiet Evening

Tonight has been quiet, peaceful, and semi-productive. A dog lays in my lap, a candle flickers pleasantly, and my favorite slippers adorn my feet.

This peace, this rest is pure ecstasy after the week I just endured. (A week which included a trip to the E.R. thanks to low potassium.) Any night where I don’t have a PANIC ATTACK or where every thought revolves around something negative is a night of holy.

I even managed to sink down into a hot bath and read a Paleo Magazine for 30 minutes. Which for me, that’s a huge accomplishment. It was invigorating (yet, at the same time of course very relaxing. I’m ready for bed.)

I’m on a new diet of sorts. It’s an anti-inflammatory diet. I went to see a Naturopath on Tuesday and he thinks I have a leaky gut. Or, in other words I have a damaged stomach lining which makes it hard for me to appropriately digest food. Hence the lack in nutrients as well as other problems. He believes that a good part of my anxiety and panic attacks are due to a damaged gut.

It’s only been two days and I must admit, I’m feeling a bit better. Though, I can’t help but think that anyone who cuts out gluten, dairy, sugar, and caffeine would likely feel better. 😉 I’ve had one panic attack and have otherwise been fairly steady. So hey, I’m going to keep trying this. It doesn’t hurt. At this point… I’m willing to try almost anything.

I emailed an Episcopalian Priest tonight, hoping to meet with him to discuss matters of faith. I’m hopeful that this contact will work out and in addition to therapy, diet changes, exercise, and now this that well… maybe I’ll be getting somewhere with something. I don’t know what that is, but hey.

Eloquence eludes this evening. It must be time for bed.

A Long Week

It’s been another long week.

What does a long week even entail in life? I don’t know about other people, but for me it means that I had several consecutive panic attacks that led to me being up literally all night one night, only to stay home from work the next day because I couldn’t function, only to get 2 hours of sleep that entire day, only to be in a fog the next day, only to have therapy which drained me entirely, only to… well, you get the picture.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a brain tumor simply because I’m exhausted. All. Of. The. Freaking. Time.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a brain tumor because I’m anxious and anxiety fixates on different things for different people, for me it tends to be health issues.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a brain tumor because that would be easier than processing a lot of the stuff going on in my life right now and in the past.

But. I wonder in general, and that’s pretty exhausting.

Lent began this week too. It’s interesting to be practicing lent this year. It’s different than ever before. Feels different. What I’m doing though is giving up doing things out of fear and incorporating reading something “spiritual” everyday. Whether it be the Bible, or a book by Henri Nouwen, or a quote or two from someone’s blog. Just a tid bit every day to get me thinking and pondering.

Soon I’ll be adding meeting with a priest in addition to my therapy, in addition to naturopathy, in addition to well… you know the list. Steps forward, forward motion. Breathe in, breathe out.

 

In the midst of this long week, I was blessed by many happy moments. The weather has been oddly pleasant in the afternoons allowing for the sun to peek over shoulders and warm heads. Lia and I have spent our fair share out in the world in the afternoons and I’ve taken my lovely dog, Emma, for many a sunny walk. It’s been SO nice. Jacob and I are enjoying planning for the wedding and also enjoying the time we get to spend together. Between his new job, my job, both of our school schedules, and general life happenings we will be seeing each other less and less in the coming months. It makes our time together precious and invaluable. I got to talk to my auntie tonight about all myriad of topics and that was very refreshing. I am looking forward to seeing her when I go to Boise for my bridal shower. Which reminds me that I got an invite to my BRIDAL SHOWER! EEK! So crazy fun 🙂 Really looking forward to my trip to Boise and seeing people I love while I’m there. I’ve felt a lot more like “myself” the last couple of weeks. The Lexapro has finally worn off and I’m balancing out a bit more. Extremes are more present now than before, but it’s nice to actually feel again. Really nice.

Random thoughts, thoughts that aren’t important to anyone but me. Just trying to write tonight to remember different stages in my healing process.

Honesty, today.

Sometimes I am not even sure what I am really looking for. Answers? Questions? Hope? Sincerity? Humble hearts?

Maybe that’s what life is… searching for God knows what. Isn’t there a book with that title? It seems vaguely familiar to me. It makes me think it’s possibly a very Christian book. Which makes me shudder.

Tonight. I had a breakdown. My first in awhile (considering while I was really struggling with my Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder I had a breakdown at least once a day… well not in awhile is that big of a deal.) However. Back to the breakdown. I was sobbing out the truths of my life as I see them to my very loving and understanding fiance when this slipped out… “I don’t like people right now,”

I almost shocked myself, were it not for the fact that I’ve known this innately for awhile. People are taking a LOT of ENERGY right now and after the year that I’ve had, I don’t have much in the energy stores to be all invested and love on people like I used to. Plus, I’m going through overhauls of certain friendships in which those friends are trying to decide if they can be in relationship with me because I don’t subscribe to the idea of “Biblical Womanhood” and “Submission.” So yeah, leaves me my mouth a little bitter so far as the human race goes.

*Face palm.* To be fair, it’s not that I dislike everyone. I don’t even dislike people. I just don’t like spending time with people. That’s a first in a very long time. I’m a  PEOPLE PERSON! I am that girl that used to plan PARTIES and have lots of COFFEE DATES and ask everyone ALL THE QUESTIONS.

But I’m out. Of. Energy. I used up all my reserves. I just don’t have it in me right now. And the Christian culture I’ve been in the past five years would chide me and tell me that I must me doing something wrong. But I don’t think that’s true.

Does Christianity ever EXHAUST you?! Do people ever finally bring you to your end? Are you just wanting to go to an island for a month and re-charge?

Or… am I alone?

She wiped the dust off of her, but to dust she returned.

Today was the day we remembered my grandmother, Helen Thorson. Grandma.

It was one of the more surreal moments of my life and I stayed on the surface of it all as much as I could. I laughed, I joked, I remembered, I spoke, I cried (briefly.) The things we do. The experiences that bind us. Today we gathered for a death, but talked of new life, new jobs, new engagements, moves, and more. Many of us had not been in the same place for years, by choice or by circumstance.

Over ten years ago we stopped gathering together for Christmas Eve. My family’s story is…. complicated. It was always with mourning that my grandma traveled each year to different houses at different points to drop off her famous Norwegian lefse, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and more. Today I laughed with her… She finally got us altogether. She won, in the end. She kind of always did.

The past few years of her life were very difficult. Through credit cards and social security she supported a son of hers and a grandson, whom none of us particularly care for. The son is… borderline destructive and very intimidating. Always up for a fight. Thus, visits to grandma/mom slowed and dwindled almost to a stop. She was lonely, mentally unstable, physically declining. The great and terrible things of old age. It’s hard to remember that. It’s hard to realize that.

Today though, we came together and celebrated the absolutely amazing woman that my grandmother was. We laughed about her ornery tricks… scaring my long deceased grandpa by pretending he shot her while ketchup blood ran down her thighs, decorating the town’s statues with Santa hats at the ripe age of 80. At midnight. We laughed about yard sales, long road trips, family gatherings. My grandma raised her children from the time of 1968 on, alone. She was a matriarch in the fullest sense of the word.

There are three words I used to describe my grandma today as I spoke before the gathered. She was stubborn, encouraging, and adventurous. These are three attributes I will expand on in coming posts. A woman who lived nearly 91 years deserves many words about her. This is only the beginning.

And then I breathed.

I sat in the car with an old friend, one I had worked with at a camp. The time seems so long ago, a lifetime ago, mostly because of all that has since transpired. But, it was really only a couple of years ago. We sat, we talked, he asked a question… “How’s your healing process?” I hemmed. I hawed. I hesitated. I wasn’t sure of the words I wanted to use.

“Well, I’m really healthy, but I’m not like I was. I’d call myself a post-Christian or a progressive Christian… I still believe in Christ but not ‘Christianity’ necessarily. I have a lot of problems with current Christian evangelical culture and have turned away from most of it. But, I’m happy, no longer having panic attacks, healthy, on a path toward wholeness…” I trailed off. I was of course, worried for the response.

But what did I receive? Love and grace. Because he’s a friend. “That makes sense,” he said. “What you’ve gone through and experienced. That makes sense. Also, I have a hard time with Christian culture too. Living in a developing nation does that to a person.”

This is what I hope for in the future. People who are willing to sit with me. People willing to try to understand. People willing to hold my heart and give me a hug. And knowing that it won’t often happen this way. I will take it when I do get it.

Thank you for God, for brothers and sisters who love deeply, without fear blinding them. Amen.

Lexapro, my foe.

Anxiety. Panic Attacks. Phobias. Debilitating anxiety. Panic disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Therapy. Lexapro.

Words that I never imagined would end up being part of my daily vocabulary. Yet, after that life changing traumatic event I spoke of in my former post, they became not just part of my daily vernacular, but I became those words. I became anxiety, I became panic, I became fear. I was a shell of myself.

For months upon months I tried desperately to break the surface of the water I was drowning in. I tried holding onto the outline of who I was BEFORE, tried holding onto air for all it was worth. It’s interesting that when your entire safety net of “Christianity” falls apart how much fear that can induce. Not to mention the day to day leftover emotional damage of the EVENT.

Thus. Finally. Lexapro became part of my life. 10 mg of Lexapro became my “savior” from day in and day out, 24/7 anxiety. Shortly after entered therapy. And slowly, I’ve gotten better.

Now. I am trying to wean off of Lexapro and it’s worse to wean off than it was to get on (initial side effects include what are called “brain zaps,” debilitating headaches, feeling lightheaded, dizziness, nausea, and much more.) So cool. I’ve cut myself back to 5 mg every other day. I’m hoping before long to be down to 2.5 mg every other day, then every third day, then not at all. It takes a long time to wean oneself off of an SSRI.

There is a small stone of strength residing in the center of my being. It began forming and pulsing the day of the EVENT that changed everything. It’s bursting forth in a glorious way now. I am ready to be me apart from the medicine, apart from Christianity, apart from terrible manipulative friends and other influences. It may sound terrible. I may sound horrible. But this is the truth of who I am.

As I was laying down, closing my eyes to fight off the nausea, I couldn’t help but stumble into that strength. It surprised me and pleased me. I am not going to let Lexapro or Anxiety or Panic Attacks define me any longer. I am not going to let these feelings dictate my day to day any longer. I am going to live through the current nausea, fatigue, brain zaps, headaches, dizziness, and find a better and more complete Samantha at the end.

We go through hell. We come out alive. We are human. Incessant in our endeavors. We will rise victorious in the face of much adversity. I am proud to be a human.