It’s dark when I open my eyes. I faintly remember him coming into the room as I drifted to sleep the night before. I lay beside him. Tossing. Turning. Tossing. Turning. The week’s events playing over and over in my head. From one extreme. To the other. I want to say something. But don’t. The chimes that wake us up hum next to him. I decide I can at least ask him what time it is. It is time to get up. Time for another tough day.
I am irritated the minute I get up. I can’t figure out why so I head downstairs to try to find some focus. Only I can’t focus. I can’t seem to make my brain stop rehashing all the things it thought the night before. This morning the words are louder than before. “Why do you believe you can do things? Why wouldn’t they want to get rid of you? You have a job because you are his wife, you know that? What makes you think you can do this? You’re not smart enough. All you’ll ever be is just his wife…and remember he settled for you.”
I cannot stop it. And it makes the anxiety bubble. The bubbling turns into a boil. A very hot steamy boil. I make a snide comment. One that invites a fight. He takes the bait. And it’s a full-on battle. All my imaginations are coming true because I can’t hold my tongue and I can’t control my brain and I cannot stop the angry fire burning inside. The anger is scary and frightening and I don’t know what to do with it. And the person standing across from me is done. Done with my issues. His words come faster and faster and slamming into my heart and I’m crashing.
Somehow we manage to calm down enough to make it to work. I put on yoga music, hoping that the soothing sounds can calm the rage that just won’t go away. It’s a scary rage. I haven’t felt this out of control since 2002. I’m terrified. But I’m at work. I CANNOT fall apart. I’ve done enough damage for one day. I cannot take my issues into the work place. So I sit and simmer. Brew. And I can feel the rage growing strong again.
We have this new puppy. She’s supposed to help my daughter’s anxiety. She’s a lot of work and I have to take her to work with me. She is bored so she starts barking. Which makes the boss irritated. And I feel shame again. That I’m not enough. I can’t even make a puppy behave. I can’t get work done. And I’m just playing a part that’s not mine to play. I feel like the whole world would be better without me, but especially the boss. Sure, he SAYS he needs me…that he loves that he can spend all day with me…but not really. Because if I was my boss, I’d fire me on the spot. And since I’m married to the boss…well, I assume that means he doesn’t want me either.
I know NONE of this is reality. But it’s as real as the hand in front of my face. And the more it feels real the more afraid I become. The more I am afraid the more the anxiety tells me that it’s all real. Suddenly I can’t control the rage. I’m afraid I’m going to hurt the puppy. Like throw her across the room. Or if the boss comes in the door I’m going to explode or throw something. I have a moment of clarity. I walk out the door. Down the hall. Into my sister’s office. I shut the door. I look at her. Then I say something that I’ve never allowed myself to do. Ever. Ever since thirteen when I first started struggling with mental illness.
“Please take me to the hospital. Now.”
She is calm. For once I tell myself to shut up that my baby sister shouldn’t be driving her sister to the mental ward. That I should be the strong one. I should be the one to handle the stress of a tough job and a son away from home and a teenage girls who are difficult to parent and a puppy who is harder than a baby and a college class that’s over my head and a looming test to prove I know what I know and a brain that feels like it’s going to quit on me and anxiety. I should handle all that. Right? Because I am strong. And I’m Abba’s daughter. And I should just do all this. Because that’s what a woman does. She puts her issues behind and gets her stuff done no matter what. But I’m a fraud and I just can’t do this anymore. So we drive to the hospital. And she tells me I’m brave. But I feel like shit and I want to die. Soon.
I don’t know what I expected. But it was not what I experienced. When I realize I’m going to be spending hours behind locked doors without anyone I know, or my phone or even the necklace of the cross I keep around my neck to remind me of who my Jesus is I begin to panic. My heart races. I can’t breathe. But she tells me I’m brave. So I go.
Inside is a large room. With other people waiting. Waiting to talk to a doctor. Waiting to go home. Waiting for an empty bed in the hospital. And I am scared. Beyond scared. So I curl in a ball in a chair and pray that the two wandering men pacing and violently screaming won’t come near me. Suddenly a dozen nurses are nearby and a patient throws something and he’s on the ground. They have him restrained. I begin to wonder just what I got myself into. Surely this isn’t where I need to be. I just need to talk to someone. To tell me it will be ok and I’m not paranoid schizophrenic or a psychopath…ya know because Dr. Google says I am.
Honestly, it’s the most terrifying experience. And I realize I’m not that ill. I do still have my senses. Yes I’m struggling with my perception but I’m not struggling with reality and I’m really thankful for that. I spend the entire day in the chair. I fret about what the husband is going to say and how the boss is going to fire me and how many emails I’m going to have to read. I also think that everyone will be fine without me…they won’t miss me a bit.
Finally the psychiatrist comes in and he talks to me. He doesn’t think I need to be in the hospital. Besides I’d have to stay in that room for 2-3 more days and I’m not sure I can handle that. He tells me I have classic symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. OH good, let’s add another acronym to what is wrong with me. I refrain from telling him he should just put FU…sigh.
So I was discharged. With a prescription for medication and instructions to see a therapist weekly, not just when I feel like it. I spent the afternoon with my adopted sister who understands wonky brains and feeling like life is suffocating. I tell her that I feel lost and that there’s no way to undo the damage I did and could I please get a new brain. She takes my hand and simply says, “Jesus redeems.” But how many times does he redeem the same thing I whimper. “70×7”.
So I’m back to the fight. Facing the raging fire. Trying to figure out how to live with anxiety that insists upon not going away. Hoping that I’ve not destroyed the love we’ve struggled so hard to find. Feeling about as small as a bug with a giant t-rex inside of her. Lost. But hopeful. And just going to face this life. One. Day. At. A Time.