The start of 2017 brought with it the darkest days I have ever experienced. The start of the New Year forced me to make choices I never wanted to make, it forced me to address issues that I had tabled for far too long.
I had missed the message my body had been telling me about work, assuming that the nauseating feeling was it trying to tell me I needed a new routine and more sleep. I ignored them, planning to address them later, figuring once work calmed down, once life wasn’t crazy that I could change my schedule and everything would be fine again. I waited too long, my body couldn’t do it any more and it wasn’t just the hours or lack of sleep taking it’s toll on me, it was the management.
As the struggles at work continued on, panic attacks began with the first sound of my alarm. As the tears streamed from my face, I gasped for whatever air I could get in, my body trembled and shook, my chest tightened as the weight on it grew heavier and heavier. The pain felt like a knife stabbed just below my left breast, jabbing in-between my ribs. My head felt like someone slammed it into the wall.
The first morning this happened, I didn’t make it to work. I was so shaken, I couldn’t drive. I asked to work from home, allowing my body to settle down, but was told to stay home and rest.
“Maybe you should ask the doctor about taking medication,” Kevin said that night. “It doesn’t have to be something you take forever, we will make sure it doesn’t make you go astray. But, something to help you make it through this part while you continue to figure things out in therapy.”
That night, I dreamt that I had two purple pills in my hand, I was taking them for my head. As I went to take the two pills, suddenly my mouth was full; there was an endless amount of the pill in my mouth and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get them all out. Addressing that I might need medication to help me through this terrified me.
The next day, the panic attack happened again. I missed work again.
Kevin was right, I couldn’t go on like this. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it out the door to go to work. So, that afternoon, I told the therapist I wanted to talk to someone about taking medication to help.
Two more missed days of work and I was meeting with the physiatrist. I told her about all the things that had been going on. I explained my family history and my fear of taking medication. I was brutally honest, finally admitting things I had been too ashamed to before. I sat in the chair, arms crossed, alternating between looking at the floor and making eye contact with the doctor. She asked me if I thought I was a good person and I broke down into tears as I realized I knew I was a good person, I knew I had done good things, I knew I had accomplishments, I knew I could be a good friend; but despite all of that I thought I was worthless, I felt like I didn’t deserve anyone’s time, that I did everything wrong. I felt like a failure, like I should be a discarded piece of trash. I had lost all of my confidence in myself and my self esteem had been rattled more than I had been willing to admit.
That was the day my medical record began saying major depressive disorder, recurrent episode, and anxiety disorder were ongoing medical conditions I had. I started taking Lexapro that day.
The panic attacks continued and I started Inderal to help calm me during them. The Inderal worked; it worked to when and would take me from a state of complete panic to so calm I couldn’t move and would fall back asleep for hours.
I tried different things the the doctor recommended, but nothing seemed to help.
One afternoon as I was going to put scissors away, I imagined stabbing them into my throat. I enjoyed the imaginary relief that that pain brought from my internal struggles.
One morning, as the panic attack began to subside, my mind wandered to thoughts of driving into oncoming traffic. I couldn’t imagine my commute without drifting into the next lane and barreling head-on into bright lights of the tractor trailer ahead of me. Letting that take all the pain away.
I didn’t know what was happening to me, I couldn’t bring myself to admit that my mind was thinking of ways to kill me. The thoughts scared me, to say they rattled me to my core would be an understatement. As tears streamed down my cheeks, I asked Kevin to promise to keep me safe. I asked him to not let me hurt myself as I confessed the thoughts I had.
The doctor called me that day, we immediately stopped that that medication.
I started a low dose of Zoloft after that.
Zoloft sounded so much like Olaf I decided it must be the solution; Olaf was such a happy snowman, so Zoloft would make me just like him…