Another Chapter

So, I’m a typical mommy emotional mess today!

I thought after my first born, who graduated high school last year, with me sobbing like a baby; that this year would be a cinch.

But not so much.

I am sitting here, remembering when they were little. My young daughter and her little brother; playing with their stuffed animals and play toys and just so innocent and eager to please mommy and daddy. Now, I sit here blubbering like a fool and in disbelief at the childhood years that have gone by….too too soon.

I am just so proud. Not sad, not upset, and definitely far from disappointed. The irony is that I am someone who is usually non-emotional. For example, when there are times that are clearly meant to show some tears; I couldn’t will them out if I poked my eyes with my fingernails.

Don’t think I haven’t tried wiling them out…(no, I never poked my eyes with my fingernails, but trying to make a point about this moment)

 

So, here I sit. Thinking back to the previous 17 years of my sons’ life. The day he was born and when my daughter, only 18 months at the time and still a baby herself, was brought to the hospital to visit us. She happily sat on my lap in the hospital bed and my husband brought our son, Philip to meet her…

And she angrily threw out her arms and screamed, “NO NO NO!!!! Go Away!” She pushed him away and just hugged me; wanting me all to herself. It was a touching moment I will never forget because from that point on, they have been so close that the memory of the hospital meeting was almost a story of fiction. When their youngest brother was born, 4 years later, they were a team in keeping him in “check” ūüėČ

I cried last year when my daughter proudly walked across that graduating stage. I don’t doubt that I’ll be blubbering away tomorrow night at my son’s big night too.

I know it is an emotional time for every parent as their child moves onto a new beginning…and closes another chapter in their younger lives. The past five years have been a trying and busy time for our family and I cannot believe the maturity and adaptability levels of our children through it all. We had relocated across the globe; not once, but twice, to set up home in another country. And yet, we returned; not once, but twice, back to where we began because that was what we were meant to do.

It wasn’t easy on us at all. But I knew in my heart how much strength it took on our children’s parts to adapt; and adjust each time we resettled again.

I know that nothing is truly forever, but as a parent, you want the best for your children and want to protect them from all additional challenges that we have control over. (or at least think we have control over)

But each time, they just worked diligently to make up the lost time in school or make the necessary adjustments to the current living situations that were so. ¬†I know that these experiences only helped ground them for life’s changes as will undoubtedly¬†come and go.

So it is not with sadness that the tears flow. It is with great joy and pride of the amazing, young adults that have emerged from those young, giggling children who seemed too innocent to grow up so soon. God Bless the class of 2015.

 

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Panic Disorder: You are NOT alone!

Okay, WARNING!! I’m going to be completely transparent and it really makes me feel a little nervous but if I could help just ONE person get the help needed today, that is well worth the nervousness!!

So, backing up, I know that I’ve shared before that I suffer from panic disorder and I just touched on the surface of it. It started when I was 19 years old and I’m not completely sure of the reason that started it, but I had just gone through a major emotional time of my life with an engagement and awful break-up with some deep rooted reasons that shook my world.

I was a wreck. I felt alone most of the time, even though I was surrounded by family and friends. It was a time that taught me what it feels like to be crushed and needing to rebuild on faith alone.

 

So, that is when my panic disorder began, to the best of my knowledge.

I recall the first time it hit, I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep…and then all of a sudden, I could NOT breathe. I could not catch my next breath. It was like with every inhale, I would will to “catch up” to my next breath…

But. I. Just. Could. Not.

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It was the worst feeling I had ever known. I KNEW that if I couldn’t catch my breath, I would die. And the feelings only increased as my panic began to rise. I ran to my mom who tried to talk me down; as I paced around the room, working feverishly to catch my breath and just calm down.

I don’t remember how long that first panic lasted but it felt like an eternity.

And it didn’t end there. It would hit at random, some nights I was able to relax and fall asleep peacefully. Some nights, I would be awakened to the awful feeling of no breath. The cycle was tortuous and at that time there were few resources to turn to. I was alone, nobody could understand the enormity of the feeling as it crushed down onto my chest…and paralyzed me from anything else.

I would recite to myself during the day, that it was only episodes and these episodes would pass. I heard from doctors that I wouldn’t die from this. I remember being furious at the non-caring comment made by one doctor whom my mom took me to see. He diagnosed me with MVP. That is a heart murmur issue and he put me on heart medication.

I knew that this was not the cause of my episodes but when my mom explained to him what I would do and say in the midst of these panics, he just blatantly said, “She WON’T die. She just has to relax”…

As with any issues we face, life goes on and we have to deal with the ups and downs whether we like it or not. I did that and kept my panic hidden as best as I could. After I had my first two children, I went through another enormous roller coaster of emotions and thought I could never recover from it. It was at this time the panics came back with a vengeance.

Tortuous. Severe. Debilitating. My husband had no idea what was happening and in his lack of knowledge, made me feel it was “all in my head”. That, in and of itself, was devastating. I know now that he didn’t understand how awful that felt to me but at the time it was like I was on island all alone with nobody to turn to.

After my third child was born, I formed almost an “abnormal” attachment to him and would just sit and hold him and feel “safe”. I remember anytime I would leave the house and if panic would strike, I would focus on his face in my mind and breathe until I calmed down.

This was the first sign that I ever experienced that “maybe” just “maybe” I had a fighting chance of getting past this. I had no idea how it would be possible, because by now, I had almost come to the conclusion that there was some “ticking time bomb” always waiting to go “off” in my body at any given time and I just had to deal with it all. I had tried many different ways to handle it. Lucinda Bassett (is that her name?) created a cassette tape program with workbooks which I ordered from the radio advertisement that I heard it over. This helped me for a time but never for good. I figured that I was the exception to the rule that it would ever be “over”. But knowing that there was finally a “title” for the disorder was a weight lifted off of my shoulders, after almost 20 years!

In all stories that I’ve heard and all the studies I have researched regarding this issue, there is never ONE way to overcome this problem and the resolution for each person varies. Some can learn breathing techniques to help them overcome the panicky feelings, that didn’t work so well for me. Some have help in medications and therapy. I had one therapy session and the doctor was a bit surprised I had never spoken to anyone years earlier and put me on a low dosage medication to allow me to sleep and control the issues. But even taking the medicine caused me to panic. I found that just splitting the dosage in half and taking as needed has allowed me to overcome the chest clutching breathing issues and sleep without being torn out of my restful slumber to the gripping feeling of being held underwater.

I know to some, this sounds incredibly simple to overcome. I remember feeling embarrassed to talk about it to anyone, which only makes it worse, in my opinion. I hope that opening up and just letting this out can help someone who is feeling alone and crippled by this problem. Seek out someone to help you; whether it is a trusted and caring family member, doctor or therapist. Get the help that makes YOU feel at ease; and not what anyone else tells you is the “answer”. You will know. And if all else fails, you are not alone. There are many out there who share this problem and have never talked openly about it so it could easily be hidden in people you already know and love and are close to.

I am tired of being held hostage to feeling like we have to be “normal” and never speak openly about any issues that we may have. It’s time to just be ourselves and I know it will only allow more people to open up and share their own issues…which is step 1 to a solution in any shape or form.

God Bless you and you are not alone.

Are You Struggling Today?

It’s amazing to me when I hear people assume that if you don’t complain or talk about your struggles; that you must no have any.

BULL!!! 

Our struggles are our stories!!! Embrace them and learn to grow from them.  That is your message to the world around you.

In keeping with today’s topic; I will share some of mine…

I am a very happily married woman of almost 20 years to my amazing hubby. ¬†Do you think that it’s been¬†bliss¬†ever since the day we said, “I Do”???

FAR FROM IT!!!

…and to those of you who are, or have been married know that it would have been a complete lie for me to say otherwise.

We started out as your average “happy” young couple with dreams of a family life, successes, growing in our faith and many blessings.

While I can’t say we aren’t enjoying all of these today, it sure has not been “easy” in any respect.

Which reminds me of a joke my son told us this summer;

“Why did the washing machine stop working?…. Somebody threw the towel in…”

=D =D =D

We all have struggles and if we stick with what needs to be done consistently; we can work our ways through them and come out stronger than ever. This doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to complain to everyone around you or share all over social media about your issues…

Because there is such a thing as an “unfollow” button and that will get pressed if you make complaining a habit. Instead, act as though everything is going great and your reality will become so. You have more power over your progress and success than you know.

My point is that although life has had it’s share of ups and downs for us, we never gave up. We kept refocusing on helping each other and moving forward in the best way we could understand at the time. There is no fairy tale life. There is no perfection for anyone. I know we will continue to have our struggles but without them, we wouldn’t be as happy and as strong as we are today. My hubby is my best friend and I know he has my back just as much as I do, his.

But you have to get a little bit (sometimes, a LOT) uncomfortable before you feel proud of where you’ve come from…

Let’s focus in on the happy parts of today!

My Panic Disorder; Part 1

So, where do I start?

It seems like it’s always been an issue with me; panic and anxiety. ¬†I remember the issues starting at the age of 18, but not sure if it was any earlier.

The earliest memories I have of my anxiety was when I’d try to fall asleep at night and I’d wake up in a full panic; sweating and out of breath. I would try to “catch” my next breath but it seemed like I would run out of oxygen. ¬†This would only make me feel more out of control and I would begin to worry that I was going to die. I would begin to move around to get out of the feeling and this would only increase the issues.

My mom at that time was really worried about my episodes. I would be inconsolable and fight any help from anyone and wouldn’t want anybody to look at me as I was in the height of panic. ¬†I called 911 a few times and was rushed to the emergency room; only to be told later that I was fine.

It’s so difficult to try to explain the feelings and sensations and I know that those of you who have experienced this issue will understand completely. ¬†The irony is, that when I felt “good” and think back to the previous episode; I imagined that it must have been something I could have handled better.

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But the next episode would hit and all rationale thoughts and feelings would be out the door.

The worst part of it all, was that there were no explanations for my episodes at that time. ¬†I remember visiting the doctor multiple times and explaining these issues and they would sit there, puzzled, looking at me with no help for what it could have been. That would make me feel more anxious; not knowing and thinking the worst each time. How did they know I wasn’t going to die when they didn’t even know what was wrong with me???

One doctor sent me to a heart specialist and they have me an EKG. From that test, they concluded I had a heart murmur and put me on medication to help me.

That did nothing for my episodes. I would go into full panics and then wonder what was going on when I was clearly taking care of my “heart issues”. ¬†Being 19 at that time and tired of being run around; I stopped taking my medication. That made my mom angry and scared that I had just stopped taking medication that was prescribed to “help” me.

It turns out I didn’t have MVP. (not “most valuable player” but “mitral valve prolapse”) lol

It was through my years of searching for an answer that I began to stumble upon the mere idea that I might have a panic disorder. When I was pregnant with my second child, I remember hearing a radio commercial of a woman who was explaining point-blank my mysterious “issues.” Could this be¬†it?¬†I wondered.

She was selling a program with cassette tapes and workbooks that was meant to “heal” your anxiety issues and allow you to live “episode” free. ¬†I ordered that plan asap!

And, it did help me to understand the many reasons that were responsible for my anxiety. I realized it went so much deeper than just a “quick fix” and although I knew at that time what was causing my stress, I was in for another many years before I finally got to the bottom of it and able to live a “normal” life without ever worrying about dealing with another episode again.

I will share more in my next post about what I did to get help and how I finally overcame this powerful hold over my emotional and psychological state of panic.

Tell me below if you suffer or suffered from any form of this or if you know someone who has. My reason for sharing this now is to help anyone who may be fighting the battle alone and not knowing how to get help. You are not alone and it is treatable.