Friday, July 10, 2015

Put It in A Box

I am a firm believer that mental health should be spoken about openly and freely, so there can be more compassion about it.  For some reason, which I'm not consciously aware of, my whole life I have thought of crying as a weakness and refuse to take part in it.  Shenanigans, I thought!  The only place I would ever let tears fall, was in my bedroom if I could help it; and usually, I could.

There were instances where I was in extreme pain, but put on a facade "I'm  okay, and t'was but a scratch," when in reality my entire big toenail was ripped off up to the cuticle and I just rode my bike a mile in such conditions, to get to my sanctuary where I can finally react accordingly.  Gruesome sounding, yes, but that's a true story from when I was in middle school!

All of those years of pent up emotions and stress caused me to have anxiety and panic episodes.  When I was really young I relished being in the spotlight; kindergarten play, I'll take that solo, fourth grade play, lead actress!  I suppose it took a while for the repression to finally take it's toll on me, and by the time I reached high school it was beginning to flourish.  I continued on with my suppressed feelings, and usually about once a year, there would be one insignificant event that hardly even effected me, but I would have what I called a nervous breakdown.  Now as an adult, trying to educate myself on various types of mental disorders, I know that I was not having a nervous breakdown, it was not quite that in depth.  I was having a panic attack once, maybe twice a year.

When I was twenty-two, my boyfriend at the time gave me his keys and asked me to pick him up from class at 8:30, when it was over.  I took his car back to my house, made some cookies for him to share with our friends at work, and on my way to pick him up I totaled his car.  To this day, I'm still not sure how it happened, all I know is that I rear ended the car in front of me, when there was nary a car on the road with us, somehow.  I remember slamming on the brakes, and he informed me that his car was old and you would have to pump the brakes for them to work in that manner-- something that probably would have been "need to know" information when handing over his keys!

The airbag deployed and I was burned all over my chest, my boyfriend freaked out, his parents flipped out on me, and within a week or two I had to break up with him.  Yes, I totaled his car and dumped him.  I'm not going to disclose my exact reasons why, but I will say that it was a necessary action.  After that accident, I may or may not have experienced a bit of PTSD, but I'm not sure.  It was a traumatizing event for me, but it could also have just been the beginning of the Panic Disorder I developed.

My heart was palpitating all day every day.  It took two Xanax and an entire bottle of wine to calm me down after the accident, and after that I was on a daily regimen of Klonopin.  I do not condone the consumption of alcohol along with taking benzodiazapines, but in my state of mind at that point, I wasn't thinking clearly.  Luckily, I was fine, I had no adverse reaction to the contraindications of drinking alcohol along with taking the pills.

I could barely sleep, and when I did sleep, if my phone rang and  woke me up, I would have a panic attack.  I would not be able to catch my breath, my heart would be going a mile a minute, and I would think I was dying!  After about twenty minutes it would begin to subside, and I'd be able to fall back asleep.  After months of this, I ended up not sleeping anymore.  I would literally go two full days with no sleep.  On the occasions I did manager to get some sleep, it would only be for a couple of hours, and then I'd be up again.  My insomnia only lasted for about a month and a half, thank goodness, because I was tired all the time, but couldn't get myself to actually fall asleep.

My rebound from my break up, gave me his hypnosis CDs that explained how to get yourself to fall asleep and conquer your insomnia.  It took a few nights of listening to it for me to finally reap the benefits, but once I was able to do it a few times, I was able to sleep again! This was a huge ordeal for me, and I wish I knew the name of the hypnosis CDs I was listening to, so I could advice those experiencing insomnia to give it a try, but seeing as this was a few years ago, I can't recall any more.

So far, this is just a glimpse into my psyche, but don't fret, I will get more into it.  I'm thrilled that as an adult I was able to begin to recognize that I was having some issues that needed to be dealt with, and by other means than trying to pretend it's not effecting me.  Unfortunately, I learned that misleading tip of a lady that when something it bothering you, making you angry, upset, or otherwise, to take that emotion, put it in a box and put that box all the way in the darkest corner of your brains attic.  It works well until the attic gets full, and boxes are piling up.  Once there's no space for anymore boxes that is when the attic collapses unto itself and everything that has been making a negative impact on your life, comes to light and the panic attack ensues.

I do no wish panic attacks on anyone, because they are some of the worst feelings I have experienced.  They can be both physically and emotionally draining, and no one needs to have that in their life.  My advice is to never keep too many things bottled up.  Talk to someone about it- anyone!  If you are like me, and have issues with crying in front of people or feeling weak because you have the urge to cry, try to get that one friend that you can pour your heart out to, who won't judge you or feel uncomfortable about the potential spectacle you are putting on.  I got that friend, which I must admit, it's not one of my female BFFs, it was a good male friend, who experienced some of the same debilitating psychological issues-- he actually went through a lot more than I did, which is probably why he was able to help me so much!  I will forever be so grateful for the times we spent together with me crying and trying to figure out life, yet not feeling judged like I generally would have expected.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are not ready to receive professional help, do make an effort to find someone you are comfortable being 100% you, around.  Someone who you aren't afraid to let see you do an ugly cry, complete with hyperventilating, snotty nose, snorting, and incoherent ramblings!  You will be ever so thankful once you find and utilize this lifesaver-- because that's what they will be, is a life saver.  Stress can cause a multitude of heath issues, mental and physical, and you do not want to be the person who stressed themself out to death. I promise.

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