The First and Last of the Dark Days

I learned from another blogger that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think many of us with mental health concerns find the stigma around it to be truly terrifying. It can push us inward and leave many of us feeling unwanted or hushed. Suffering in silence and alone is not healthy for anyone, including those around us. Today, I wanted to share with you a quick glimpse of my first darkest of days and my last. There have been many times in between, but consistently I pull myself through, and each time I do, the darkest days come less frequently, and are not as dark as the previous.

September 1996. The pressure to choose a major, before I returned for my third year of school, was being hammered upon me. The weight of this decision was unbearable. I saw many friends easily sticking with a major, planning out projects, collaborations, and internships. The feeling of not belonging created a snowball effect and caused me to fall into classic avoidance behavior.

On the first day I was late to class, probably not by accident. I can’t remember what class it was, but I do remember the feeling of standing outside the door, hearing the professor already speaking, that hallowed silence from the rest of the students, and I knew I couldn’t go inside. My first panic attack occurred outside of that room. I felt like a heavy blanket was thrown over me, I couldn’t breathe or concentrate. My legs felt weak, thoughts in my head were disjointed, and flight or fight kicked in. Flight won.

I dropped out of school that week. This was the beginning of the anxiety and panic attacks that I kept hidden from friends and family. I choose at that time to suffer in silence because I was confused, scared, and embarrassed. The darkest days turned into months and years, eventually it seemed I grew out of it, and was hopeful it was behind me for good. I think what occurred was I learned to avoid triggers and found confidence in areas I didn’t have before through life lessons and eventually returning to school.

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May 2017. The last time I felt this way was after my third child was born. By now I had learned some coping methods and found professional help on and off, though the feeling of shame still prevented me from being open with loved ones. I had this beautiful healthy baby, and I’d done this two times before. This should be easy. So, why was it so hard? Lack of sleep, constant breast feeding, and lack of overall care for myself, all played into my downward spiral. I was becoming very short tempered with everyone around me, I insisted on keeping my house spotless, and controlling every detail of the family. I believe I was on the borderline of OCD, accompanied with postpartum anxiety.

One day my parents and my sisters were being indecisive about something, what it was I can’t recall. I screamed at one of my sisters over the phone, something I never do. My blood pressure must have been through the roof, something rose up inside of me and clicked, I have a problem! This is not normal. I need help.

Being that it had been 20 years since my first panic attack, anxiety was not new to me. I recognized that I needed help ASAP and if I didn’t get it all of those around me would be feeling the brunt of my actions. It wasn’t fair to them. I found a new therapist through postpartum online hotline, one within my insurance network. I did research online to my symptoms, read articles about diet and supplements that would be helpful; I researched other medications as well, continued with acupuncture, started to be more physically active. Most importantly, I caught myself when my temper was rising. I knew it was due to anxiety, just knowing this helped me curb it.

The first of the darkest days was the hardest for me, it was so new and confusing. Over the years I have learned to overcome so much. The journey is ongoing. Anxiety is a part of me, but I fight it. It doesn’t control me like it used to, and I will take that as a WIN.

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13 Replies to “The First and Last of the Dark Days”

  1. Ah, I really feel for you because anxiety attacks are plain awful. The brain is so complex and often we don’ t even know what has triggered the anxiety. I’m glad you are managing to come to terms with it but I still wish you a complete recovery. It’s horrid at times isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also had a really hard time after the birth of my 3rd child. Completely overwhelmed and too anxious to think straight or to sleep. I was a mess. Sorry you had to go through that too. I remember how bad it felt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anxiety is something that will always be part of me i suppose. But it is mostly controlled when I realise one is going to happen. But as another reader has commented regarding getting anxiety attacks and sometimes not knowing what causes them. I had one of them too yesterday. It’s been a wile since I have had one.

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  4. Thank you. When I had them at my worst, they did take some time to get over after the main attack, but thankfully for me, it is getting easier. I am having some pressures these last few months, so I am guessing it is to do with that. So I am hoping they don’t start to creep back up on me.

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  5. Reblogged this on Fingers to Sky and commented:
    I thought long and hard about sharing a post I contributed on another blog. Yikes! This is pretty personal. If this reaches one person who has suffered through any type of anxiety and makes them feel less alone, then putting myself out there is worth it. I started this blog for a reason, this is one of them. Feeling alone sucks.

    Like

  6. I really connected to this post. You’ve inspired me to try to open up a bit more about my anxiety and depression through my blog. Thankyou. I hope you are in a better place now. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading. I remember when I wrote this, I later shared it on my own blog with hesitation. I was scared to let people I know see me in that way. Though I have to say, I was met with an overwhelming amount of support. There are a lot of people who came forward and shared their own experience with me as well. It is still a bit daunting, knowing I have made this all so public. All in all though, it has helped me heal and I am in a great place right now.

      Liked by 1 person

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