My spine goes cold & yet, beads of sweat burst from my forehead. Shit. It’s happening. Nothing was “wrong.” I was playing a game with the kids & have no current mental stressors, no obvious triggers. Before I can blink, the room spins, my chest seizes, and my breathing becomes shallow. I know what to do. I close my eyes, place my hand over my heart, tell myself I am safe here, and I begin to breathe & count. Count & breathe. Stay present with my breath. In for one, two, three four, and out…one two, three, four. Repeat. Everyone keeps moving around me while my teeth chatter. I singularly focus on my breath. They know I am beginning to have a panic attack and they don’t have to do a thing. All I need is to steady, give my brain some oxygen, and it will ease.
I was diagnosed with PTSD & Panic Disorder a couple of years ago. I am not sure how it is for everyone, but for me, pushing through while feeling the feelings…it completely caught me off guard. I am not much of a consciously anxious person, so there were no warning signs. I was in a good place mentally, and while yes, there were major situations in my personal life, my PTSD did not surface from a conscious place. It came into my chest like a wrecking ball and into my head like a tilt-a-whirl. My panic attacks hit in the middle of the night, or would simply just begin. No triggers needed. I just knew this was wrong; I could not explain what was happening to my body despite being in a good place in my life. I had me, I had Andrew, and I had our kids. I was okay now.
A New Way to See Myself
Over time, with my lovely therapist whom I love & trust, my doctor, and my spiritual counselors, I learned more about what was happening inside my body. Some of us can push through. Even in the face of high stress and triggers, we can push and push and push and even years later, when our mind is still pushing, while we continue to soul heal, our bodies finally surrender to the trauma we’ve lived through. My body was finally catching up to all my mind and heart had to endure.
Now, this season, I am coming off of my medication that helps treat panic attacks & physical anxiety, and while my body is exhausted during the transition days, my soul can feel it. Healing. Maybe I will always need to treat this medically, or maybe sporadically, or maybe not. We’ll see. I have no expectations of myself, and the grace I feel for the little girl inside me is vast. I don’t always. I get frustrated. I often want to push through the way I always have. But I try. In trying, one of my soul touch points is the depth of my feeling.
me on one of those long transitioning days…smudged mascara and all
I can cry again. There was a time my brain needed to reset, to soak in a moment of relief, and crying was not as needed as the medication helped my brain & body settle. That time was so strange. The beauty of not feeling all the horrible in such a panic state also brings with it some numbing. It was also a gift. It got me through reliving abuse, loving my children through the worst in their lives as they felt their own feelings, through the battle we would rage for their peace of life. Not piece. Peace.
Now, as I rewatch The Lost Kitchen and tears sting my eyes, I am so grateful. I am so overcome with feeling I never want it to end. Tears fall from my eyes as I lift my end of day glasses to wipe them away, so I can see while I feel, to inevitably cry again. It feels amazing. It feels deep. Feeling feels like everything. I always want to find my way back here, to this aliveness, as often as I can.
P.S. I cried three more times. Carry on, love. Whatever you face or have faced is walking with you, but never forget: You are with you.