Have you ever battled something that is so physically real and yet so visually imaginary at the same time? Those monsters in your closets that no one else can see? Did you know it existed, or, did it seemingly come out of nowhere despite your somewhat futile attempts to trace its journey to where you now find yourself standing?
Did it beat against the cage of your chest like a bird desperately seeking its freedom leaving you breathless and unable to stand? Was it hard to truly see that things were no longer igniting your inner sphere or lifting your spirits? Did it feel like a brick wall you didn’t see coming but suddenly found yourself crashing into without warning?
Did it frighten you? These terrible feelings of being so painfully aware of everything you were feeling but not able to understand why and unable to contain its energy that had been released?
This was my experience on a warm summer’s day this past August. An experience I was woefully unprepared for. A moment in time when the actions of only me were not enough to recover. A fleeting piece of time that lasted for hours and days with each one blurred into another as mind creeping thoughts of wondering will this happen again staked claim on land they were never granted permission to live on.
Would it? Could it? Could I prevent it? It seemed nothing of my usual suspects of enjoyment were working or helpful. Becoming lost in nature and walks in the evening’s soft glowing light were not enough fuel to ignite their own fires that usually burn bright without much effort.
I cried; I cried to my supervisor over the phone, I cried to my Doctor, I cried to those who cared, and I cried in moments of alone. This wasn’t me, and I hated everything about it.
I had a tool that I had never used and that I was purposefully keeping hidden. I didn’t want to bring it out and acknowledge that it existed. I was quite content with it sitting locked away in a bag, in a bottle, and in a box. In my mind it was destined to stay there and never grace my lips or enter my system. Yet; I was encouraged. I was encouraged by those who knew me deeply and those who knew me not personally but medically. I was reminded that it’s okay because the brick wall caused a loss of breath which was scary to harness and hard to wrap my energy around.
When it happened again on a smaller scale I understood that the help was needed. I came to the reckoning that there was no shame in opening that bag, that bottle, and removing its contents.
I dumped out one small circular pill not much bigger than the period you place at the end of a sentence. I stared at it for moment; this foreign piece of medical chemistry. It just laid there waiting for my next move. I picked up this piece of internalized shame, tossed my head back, and swallowed. I swallowed the fear, the shame, and the unknown. In the same breath I was breathing in the hope that the help would show me its side of hand holding.
To my surprise I felt relief. I felt released from an unintended prison brought on by the reality of a pandemic and the many things of which I cannot control. It cleared my mind and slowed down the rapidness of my body and my chest. I felt like I was standing just as I had always done prior to this panic attack as it was so named for me. The days and nights after the panic attack felt so very long. I was finally starting to feel as though something so scary and of such a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders (albeit not entirely).
As I stand on the precipice of potentially needing an adjustment in my medication I am harnessing the fear as a means of propelling myself forward. Its not forever. The pills are there if I need them, and I am always hopeful that it will not be a necessity. At the end of any day or beginning of any morning I will put forth my energy to focus on what I can and work with what I am able.
If the bottle needs to be opened it will be done without shame, with less fear, and less feelings of hesitancy. It will be done with the love for myself and the utilization of all of the tools I carry on my belt, and it will be done with all of the uninhibited love that has been gifted to me to lift and hold me up; an unexpected puzzle piece.
It is not about weighing yourself with a further burden. It’s knowing that accepting the guidance to assist you is what allows you to be free. It allows you to breathe, and it allows you to realign your sourceful energy.