About three weeks ago, sheer terror took over my brain as I tried to get myself into school. I pulled over to the side of the road trying to catch my breath, but my breathing was labored while my stomach churned out one wave of nausea after another. My heart pounded my chest wall like it no longer wanted to remain in my body. Every nerve in my body reacted to every sound with a jolt of electric shocks while my muscles twitched. This was the worst panic attack of my life.
The following days were plagued with manic bouts of sobbing. My body was releasing an immense array of emotions. Positive and negative thoughts swung like a heavy pendulum with no rest in the middle. I lost all sense of who I was and couldn’t feel any sort of my old self. My support circle of my husband, my son, my family, and friends immediately surrounded me in love and prayer. They became my stable ground while I lost all sense of being able to stand on my own.
As the days continued with my husband by my side, my son reassuring me, and my family and friends checking in throughout the day, my body and brain continued on this path of panic. Tense muscles twitched me awake throughout the night. Guilt wakes me up early mornings knowing there are no subs to cover my team at work. As I tried to continue to press through the day with the most mundane tasks of showering and eating, I was continually assaulted by those electric shocks numbing my chest and limbs. This was tearing me down.
I decided to take a medical leave of absence. This was the hardest decision of my professional life. It was a quick decision but one that had to be made sooner rather than later. Beyond the basics of knowing that I could not be responsible for young adults at this time, the weight of not having to put on a mask of calm to get through the day, was a deep breath that I needed.
As I continue to heal and go through trials of various medications, I am learning to give my body the time it needs to heal because I only have this one body and one mind. The healing process is a tug of war with my ego. My body and mind have been on a steady decline of brokenness and my ego kept me going for all the wrong reasons. So while the breakdown was slow, my ego expects a quick fix. Relearning how to be in rest is challenging but for a nervous system that is on hyperdrive, rest is necessary.
When the meds don’t have me in a fog, I will write my way through this journey. And with every [writing] journey, pacing is everything, being present is necessary, and forgiveness is essential. I am more determined than ever to resurface my purpose through writing. Putting words on the page is my breath and my best defense against an anxious beast wanting to do nothing more than escalate and spiral me far from reality.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please do not suffer alone. Find your circle of support and if you aren’t sure where to turn, please contact 988 for help.
Please leave a comment of encouragement, empowerment, or your story. It’s only when we openly talk about mental health that we can begin to remove the stigmas and heal.