On a Father’s day in June, I was asked to carve some inspirational quotes on a few 2 by 4’s of wood that had been a summer’s home for a few daddy long-leggers since last winter. I didn’t want to haul out the wood. I didn’t want to find my tools. I didn’t want to create anything. I thought my biggest gift was to paint a smile on and stay present. However, it was father’s day and the only thing that would move me out of myself was the fact I was making a gift for my best friend who happens to be the father of our family flock. So, I put all the “what the flock!, how could you ask me?” aside when he asked..and I picked up the air blower to send off the spiders and get to work.
It was half-hearted. My intention was good but my mind obviously wandered off during the carving of the word “shining”. Somehow an extra “N” appeared. Shinning. I didn’t even noticed it until after I used the gorilla glue to stick it on our vinyl siding. Not only would this quote be misspelled and permanently glue to the side of our house but I hacked up one of Otto Frank’s most inspirational quotes. Otto believed even in his darkest days that the sun was still out there – committed to throwing its beams to the buttercups on the hill, warming the bays and browning the masses. Even in the attic of his mind, Otto was able to find a window through eyes of pure faith.
I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I can not feel it.
I believe in God even when he is silent. ~Otto Frank
So why the gloomy mood from me, sonshine?
Well, it fell unexpectedly upon me on Mother’s day (what the heck, right?). After an amazing day, I was in bed watching HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain hunt and my body started to shake uncontrollably. I felt very panicky and needed to go outside. So, there I sat on my porch loveseat, swaddled in a blanket, with TC holding me. It was an awful feeling. It finally subsided enough for me to take some Benadryl (I thought it was an allergic reaction from something fancy that I ate earlier) to fall asleep. The next day it hit me again – this time with elevated blood pressure landing me in Urgent Care (and missing the Pokémon movie, sorry Noah). Vitals returned to normal after 30 minutes and I was discharged with the promise to see my doctor that week.
My doctor said clearly and firmly that I was suffering from anxiety attacks. He would then give me meds to help me settle the hell down and he doubled my BP meds. He didn’t use the word hell – but I really thought he was thinking it. I was a wreck – a nervous, brain fog, wreck. Well, here is where the story goes from bad to worse. The meds inflated the anxiety to a one ton boulder that I couldn’t put down. It was 9 days of hardly eating and no sleep. I mean no sleep. I was circling our neighborhood like a seagull staring at a kid with a bag of chips. I could not stand, sit or sleep. I had to keep walking. I am not being over dramatic when I say that I thought I was going to die. I didn’t think of God at all. I hate that I have to admit that. Anxiety and fear was filling my head with the worse scenarios as each day unfolded. When I called the Dr. office and explained that I felt so bad, they said that the SSRI’s meds take at least two weeks to get into your system and that it’s normal to feel worse before better. During this time, I gained the deepest empathy for others who are battling mental health sickness. I could clearly see why some of the teens that had confided in me over the years, cut themselves. I couldn’t understand then. When you are in this critical state you need a release cord. Cutting/hurting yourself takes that pain off how you mentally feel and redirects to physical pain that has an intensity that eventually subsides. I am here to tell you that there are other ways to redirect.
I consciously knew that for me my release cord had to be my closest friends that would listen to me in all hours of the night. I had to inconvenience them. I found a best friend in my family that had the exactly same type of anxiety attacks that I was having. When you find someone that has “been there” it makes all the difference in the world that you are not alone. This can’t be overstated. You find the friend that instead of telling you that your faith lacks – they pray for you even when you can’t pray for yourself. She lays hands over you and prayerfully reminds you that you are not far from the Divine hands that is holding you. TC took off days from work and arrange for his mom to stay with us. I had to ask for help. I was paralyzed. A vivid memory looking back was when we downloaded an app called Simple Habits. This was a great tool. TC and I would lay on the floor and simply breath. Breathing was a huge release when you do it deeply and scan your body for tense areas. This was a release.
I started to turn around in early July. It wasn’t a one and done pill but rather a holistic change. My doctor (obviously) changed my meds back in June but it was confirmed that it was the best one suited for my anxiety through DNA testing. (I can give you more information on DNA testing). Also through DNA testing and hormonal testing – I’ve learned that I am hormonal and nutritional unbalanced. So, I am eating a lot of leafy greens, taking natural supplements (based on my deficiencies outline in theDNA testing – darn those mutant ninja turtle genes), walking, meditating (my mantra was: I am Peace, Love and Well), praying and reading inspiring books. My hypertension is directly related to my anxiety. My blood pressure has lowered since August and so has my dosage. Overall, I am feeling better, still a little sleep deprived (I talked to a lot of people that suffered with insomnia too!) and anxiety will poke me at times (like last Sunday when we took a boat out on Center Hill Lake and the boys were being boys climbing rock walls..yikes) I’m getting better at letting it “float like a cloud” and try not to ruminate on the unrealistic absurdity of it’s talk. I read a wise question once… it asked what was your worry – 3 worries ago? And guess what? I couldn’t remember. It reminded that anxiety doesn’t need to consume me to solve it.
I hope that this blog post helps any one struggling right now. We need to talk more about mental health like we do the flu or Lyme disease. Remember it’s courageous to ask for help. It’s courageous to be You in a world that is trying to tell you to be something else. In fact, the world needs YOU. It’s courageous to hold onto faith with both hands and believe the sun is still shiNing even when you can’t see it. I promise that I would be the friend to hold onto that belief until you can.
We need one another.