As I get closer to the 2-year anniversary of my first major panic attack, a symptom of postpartum depression after weaning Jack from breastfeeding, compounded with a long family history of severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders and so on, I try to think about all the things that I pushed through despite not being able to breathe, think, or get up from the corner nook of our dining-room floor for hours every day.
The fear of those months is never far from my mind. I could not be left alone. I was hysterical. I was nearly hospitalized. I was more afraid of living than not living, but I was not suicidal. It was just a penetrating fear that to live meant to die. It was debilitating.
My lungs refused breath. My throat refused to swallow. My mind was a broken record recycling the same negative thought over and over and over and over again.
I began to remove things from our home that triggered: knives, scissors, sharp objects. Gone. I had them hidden away so I could not see them or remember they existed.
I am okay, now. I am okay. I am fine. I am fine. I am fine. It takes a daily incantation of these words to cement myself in the reality that I am okay today.
I am lucky. I received help from the best doctors, the kind of doctors that say “I believe you,” and, “You are not alone,” and, “this is normal,” and then sat with me for 4-hours on a Father’s Day Sunday until I could walk out on my feet with a normal heart rate and medication I was comfortable taking to stop the panic in its track and a scheduled plan to meet with them twice a week, with a number to reach them directly if I was scared or in an attack, and the kind that show compassion and patience and love. I am lucky.
I am lucky to have the most amazing partner who sat through it all with me. Never giving up. Never called me crazy. Never broke down and never said, “what about me?” Instead, he canceled trips and asked favors of friends and never gave up on me.
But, the memory is still so present the feelings can be conjured in a moment. I clutch to the present. I try to give myself a high-five for everything I have accomplished in these 2-years that don’t have to do with getting well. Today, I am okay and that is the best accomplishment to date and one I need to give myself more credit for. It feels easier to bury the pain. To never admit weakness. But I am humbled by it. I am humbled by the love of my partner and those around me that showed patience.
I am humbled by the bravery of each person who talks aloud of their battle with anxiety/depression/postpartum because it helps me heal.
Thank you, all of you brave, sharing humans. Thank you.