Surviving Anxiety, Dammit!

Pretty much the only difference between my life lately and the above picture is that I don’t smoke. Other than that I have sat at this computer writing in to dear friends on Facebook and email to simply try to hold on. I have been so terrified, frozen in anxiety, and fear, with my panic disorder waving its banners high, that I have barely been able to function. I finally crashed this week during the two day prep and procedure for my colonoscopy yesterday. I became increasingly unglued on Tuesday while drinking what felt like gallons of fluids in preparation for the procedure, getting sick and throwing up, and finally shaking all the way through the night unable to sleep, shaking so hard I couldn’t pet the pugs. Shaking so hard I could barely answer a text because I couldn’t use my fingers. By the time I got to the hospital for the procedure yesterday I cried while they admitted me, and cried and started shaking again so hard in the prep room that they had to give me Versed through the IV to try to calm me down so I could have the procedure. In the end the colonoscopy went just fine as they usually do because they knock you out and you don’t feel or remember a thing, but my anxiety had been so bad for so long the days previous to the procedure culminating in more than a dozen hours of shaking uncontrollably that my heart was irregular during the procedure and they were concerned. They did tests to check me out and in the end it was decided that I was okay, that the anxiety itself had caused issues with my heart. But they called my daughter in before I was even out of recovery and scared her half to death wondering what was wrong with me. Anxiety is not just something that is paralyzing and devastating to the one suffering but affects those they love as well. This is terrible and it has to stop.

I have a good therapist, regularly see a psychiatrist who monitors my meds, and I do everything that I can in terms of self-care, but I have a serious anxiety disorder and a panic disorder that go hand in hand and wreak havoc in my life. This is long-standing and debilitating and I am just SO angry about it. And I am determined to find my way through this. I will be 63 on April 30. Other than my mental health issues, and yes, there is a laundry list, besides the abovementioned I am bipolar and suffer from PTSD, I am physically healthy, thank God, with the exception of the weight I need to lose and am working on, and I could live another twenty or thirty years. And our lives are precious, and — pardon me, truly — Dammit I don’t intend to live out my life shaking like a leaf, crying, and wearing out everyone around me that I love. I want to do good work in the world. I am intelligent, talented, a writer, a teacher, a pretty damned good mentor, and an artist, and I have a lot to offer. And I intend to offer it. I just need to stop being terrified of the whole entire world.

And the thing is I could sit here and write about all of the things that had a hand in creating this as I have done, one way or another, in the past, from long term sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and so on, but for God’s sake let’s give it a rest already. What happened, happened, and I can’t change it. And I have spent enough of my life bemoaning the facts and talking about them in 40+ years of therapy, to friends, in my writing, and all the rest, finally, can I please, knowing that I intend to be responsible and do my work, just find a way to get on with it? I say that after so many months of being paralyzed with anxiety and fear and working on it from every angle and doing everything a person can do and still being in the grip of it all that I am truly at a loss for what might work, and I don’t want to live medicated to the gills — knowing that with my issues I will have to be on some meds — that I can’t function and do the work I believe God put me on this earth to do, but please, I want to find a way to cope and live with it and get on with it, and I want to help others find this too. No, not as their doctor or therapist, but as one who says, Geez Louise we have suffered so much, can we just band together, hold on to one another, pray for one another, and find a way to see the light? Is that possible? I don’t know but I can guarandamnteeyou I am going to try.

And if you are one of my angels, one of those people who has written to me, sometimes multiple times in a week or in a day, or as with a couple of dear ones who wrote to me over and over and over again on Facebook (And for those of you who poo poo the power and the true nature of friendship on Facebook I am here to tell you that these friendships are not only REAL but can be life-saving!) having a powerful dialogue with me the night before my colonoscopy when I was so paralyzed with fear I didn’t know how I would make it through the night, I just want to say that the words “thank you” are so inadequate I feel helplessly sad wanting to say something that covers the true gift that you were, but thank you is all that I have and I offer it with all my heart and gracious, heart-felt, love. Thank you. You saved my life. You got me through. And I may have lain awake shaking like an earthquake all night long, and I may have had heart irregularities because of the severity of the anxiety and the many hours that it lasted, but lets just be real shall we? Some people don’t make it through the dark timesย to see another day, and I did, and I will, and I don’t for one minute not realize that it is because of the people who love me and saw me through. Now you all deserve something from me in return. You all deserve to see me forge ahead, once more into the breech, and find a way not only to survive myself but help others in return. I will not go gently into that good night. I will fight like hell and hold on and help others do the same.

So this is me, tonight, still at the computer, with my darling pugs all around me. I have fed them and they are here helping me hold down the fort and reach out to all of you who helped me to say thanks, and reach out to others who are suffering to say Hold on dearhearts, I have been to such a dark place I could see no light but others came and held a light for me and I will hold a light for you. We can make it, dammit, dammit, dammit, we can make it, and we will and we will help others do the same. I am reaching my hand out to you this night. Please hold it, and know that you are not alone. And get on your computer and reach out to someone and ask for help. Do NOT believe that you are alone or that those on the other side of the screen don’t matter. This week these friends saved me, trust your friends to save you, and be a friend to someone else. Too often we feel that there is nothing in the world that we can do but we can do this. Do it. And now, let’s carry on…

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. I must apologize for not reaching out sooner.i was/am caught up in getting through the day myself these days and I have not been particularly cognizant of any one else.poking along,putting one foot in front of the other and surviving. I am sorry I couldn’t be there for you,but know I understand completely and I am praying that we all find some peace โค๏ธ

    • Oh dearheart, do not apologize, just take care of you, and reach out to others as you can, and know that sometimes praying for each other is not only the ONLY thing we can do but the most important thing that we can do. I am praying for you this night, and I am sending you love. May you find peace and know that you are loved and cherished, for surely you are, and not just by me…

      With deepest, heartfelt love…

      Maitri

  2. I’ve wanted to reach out to you between the newsletters and just talk but always held back thinking, “Aw, she’s too busy.” I won’t hesitate next time if you are all right with it. Let me know. Hugs, Memarge (aka Mairghred).

    • Ah sweet Memarge, do write to me, of course. If I am in a busy place or one where it’s hard for me to answer in the moment it may just take me a minute to get back to you, but I surely will. Thank you for thinking of me. As Ram Dass wrote, “We are all just walking each other home…” I believe that.

      Much love to you,

      Maitri

  3. I am so sorry you went through this Maitri. I’ve been there before. The shaking uncontrollably in bed, unable to sleep from a panic attack. Thank God it’s been a long while since those days. I went through a time when that happened to me quite regularly, and it was a traumatic thing that happened to me that triggered it and I won’t go in to it all here. I can remember hearing my parents on the phone in the other room whispering to my grandma on the phone about it, deeply concerned that I couldn’t stop shaking. It was hell, and their whispering made me even more nervous, thinking surely I was losing it. I’m so much stronger now. If you have that happen again, try using heat and weight to help. I don’t know why it helps, but it does. Kinda like when people are suffering from shock or hypothermia and they pile the blankets on. Sometimes the weight of a few blankets piled on you helps, or a hot water bottle or heating pad cuddled to your torso. Some strong chamomile tea is good too. Warmth relaxes muscles and insides. I think being hunkered in or weighed down some helps with security. You are not alone. So many people silently suffer from things while the rest of the world is turning and people are going about their business. You are giving a voice to it and you are also doing a very healthy thing by reaching out. I used to try to suffer through it alone because of not wanting to burden people.

    • Ah Bekah honey, you know this so well…

      I’m so sorry that you have suffered so much in your life, I hope that these terrible panic attacks never return, but if they did for some reason, please don’t try to manage it alone. Reaching out to someone else can be life-saving. And yes, your suggestion of heat and weight is a very good one, I will remember that. Bless you for writing in here and sharing these thoughts and suggestions, these things help so much.

      I love you honey,

      Maitri

  4. Dearest Maitri…..I meant to tell you in my last post to you that heart irregularities go hand in hand with one of our stronger than usual panic attacks, and I too have this side effect.

    Even when my son was born, 30 years ago by Caesarean section, they had to wait until my heart slowed down and became more regular, which it only did with sedatives, which I couldn’t take because of the baby. I kept telling them, it’s just my anxiety disorder and I really can’t just turn it off….because they kept saying to me, you need to calm down…..well dammit! Don’t I wish it was that easy!

    Anyway, this happens to me mainly with health issues and procedures, and the best thing I have found is to try to control my breathing, plus they had me go to a cardiologist and there is nothing wrong with my heart, so I try to remember that too, plus I try to use distraction and anything else that might help, like praying.

    Once again, please know that we soldiers and survivors of anxiety disorders will not give in…..they are, after all, just feelings that scare us terribly and we are certainly not alone! I like Bekah’s suggestion of heat and weight. Especially after an episode, we feel like we’ve run a marathon! Getting into bed with lots of blankets, the dogs, taking my medication, a nice heating pad and some gentle music, might just relax us enough to nap and recharge.

    Then remember to be extra kind to yourself! Indulge in a bubble bath, glass of wine, call a friend, watch a great movie, order something special for yourself online…..just some little something you’ve wanted and be proud of yourself for being brave, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway, because it’s so important for your health.

    I could go on and on, but you know all this….after all, you helped me when I was practically bed ridden with fear and depression. We will always be there for each other…..all of us in this wonderful, special group of caring, strong women! We are truly blessed! Big LOVE to all, and especially to you my dear friend ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

    • Dear, dear Donna,

      Honey, you could write a book about this. You have been through so much, have survived so much, and your suggestions are all so good. And yes I remember when you were practically bed bound and look how far you’ve come. It is so wonderful. I think at the bottom what is key is not to be alone, to reach out to others, and I surely appreciate your coming here to share with me. I love you honey, may we get through life knowing that we are safe and not have to suffer these terrible things, but when we do may be remember that we are not alone.

      Sweet blessings to you…

      Maitri

  5. that drawing atop this blog is incredible! you have turned into a damn fine artist, maitri. get on with your 100 ladies. keep drawing. it may lead to great bounty for you. you are, as noted, an amazing human being, thru all the trauma continuing many acts of creation, gifting us all

    xo
    ka

    • Katya,

      Dearheart that is not my art, that is from an art service I use sometimes and pay for images to use for my blog. I only use the inexpensive ones but it’s nice to have just the perfect graphic for a piece of writing. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you so much for your kind words, I will continue to try to give as much as I can, it is my earthly mission. And I love you sweet Ka, may you be safe, and may you be blessed…

      Maitri

  6. I remember those days, just shaking and crying, feeling nauseous and even throwing up. I feel triggered and it was all I can do to attempt to calm down. Gasps of deep breathing before the next round starts.

    I haven’t had one of those lately because of meds and circumstances. I would’ve freaked out being in the closed MRI tube yesterday, but things worked out right and my head was outside the tube. Now that I had that experience I feel better about it.

    Let’s hold hands and walk on the path. We’ll get through this and become stronger, step by step.

    • Valerie honey, I am so glad that you haven’t had any of these panic episodes lately, they are so debilitating. And Brava! for doing so well with the MRI, they would have to put me OUT for one of those! I hope your test results came back fine.

      And yes, let’s do hold hands as we walk on this path, we WILL get through this, we will, we will. I am sending you a warm, gentle hug and so much love…

      Maitri

  7. Dear Maitri,

    Anxiety is so awful. It’s like that disease people get in Game of Thrones get – the one that turns them to stone. My dad died 2 months ago. He was my one true thing and first love. The illness stole him from me bit by bit over a period of 10 years. And, these happened to be the most challenging, personally, for me.

    The severest anxiety has had a death grip on me of late. Nothing brings comfort. Except to ride these waves that feel like they might wash me away from myself.

    Art has served as a saving grace for me. And so I fill my Moleskine sketch books, and create new pieces. I find the focus required to make a detailed sketch/illustration is a balm. And then the sense of accomplishment at completion is a tiny voice whispering, ‘yes, love, you are enough! you can, yes you can. I believe in you.’

    Small Sweet Steps.

    • Roxanne honey I am so sorry for the loss of your father. That must have been terribly hard. And oh how I know the death grip of anxiety. Earlier this week I didn’t know how I would survive it. But we do, and art is a tremendous healer. And yes love, you ARE enough, and yes you can. I believe in you too.

      Small sweet steps indeed.

      With love,

      Maitri

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