It was Thanksgiving Day 2010, mid-morning.
Steve had taken the kids outside to play, to work off all the food they were about to consume, and I had gone upstairs to take a shower and get ready for the extended-family festivities. As the weight of the water hit my shoulders, neck and back, I felt the weight of the world crashing down on me. Ten years prior I had spent my last Thanksgiving with my dad and Turkey Days had never been the same since. Also, a few days prior, I had received word from my dear friend, Amy, that the tumor in her liver was not reacting to the chemo and her prognosis was “not good.”
As I began to lather up, I simultaneously began to melt down. Grief from the loss of my dad, combined with fear for my friend’s life became a notion I just could not wrap my head around.
Then, my emotions went from grief and fear down into the vortex of negativity, to the terrifying land of self-deprecation & self-loathing. I looked down to my “baby weight” that was still sticking to me even though my kid was nowhere near being a baby. I remembered how I had yelled at my kids for god-only-knows-what, instead of being the adult in the situation. Then I thought about how my husband and I had been drifting apart and words like separation and divorce had recently crossed our lips.
I pondered my overall mediocrity and wondered how I had gotten to the place I was in.
Then, I tried to take a deep breath, but I couldn’t.
Literally, I could not physically take a deep breath.
Quite naturally, visions of a massive tumor in my lungs engulfed my brainwaves and I could think of nothing else.
I went to my tried-and-true yoga breaths that got me through labor for God’s sake. Nope, nothing. Still couldn’t breathe.
I got out of the shower, fell on the floor in a pile of soapy, wet, dysfunction and called my best friend, Mern, who is a doctor. Through my hysteria I told her my symptoms and that I was sure I had a tumor in my lungs and/or some sort of degenerative heart disease.
Her response, “Mare, you’re having a panic attack.”
“No, Mern, I’ve had a panic attack. This is different,” I uttered through tears and snot and Dove Cool Cucumber soap suds.
Like any good friend would do, she sat on the phone with me and went through everything I was feeling and thinking. Every irrational thought I articulated, she met with grace and understanding and encouragement. That phone call was the reason we’ve been best friends for twenty-six years.
Though I didn’t believe her at the time, in retrospect I know I was most certainly having a panic attack. But that’s the crazy thing about a panic attack–there is no way you will rationally believe, in that moment, that it’s a panic attack. The impending doom and depression is all too real to just be chalked up to a “frivolous panic attack.”
Somehow, by the end of the conversation, I had pulled myself together and continued on with my Thanksgiving Day with more gratitude than I had felt in a long time. Then, over the course of a few months, I literally pulled myself up by own boot straps, got my proverbial shit together and ended a very difficult period in my life.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that last year, 2010, was my mid-life crisis, a crisis that culminated with me in a heaving heap on my bathroom floor, though I haven’t gone into much detail. Which I still probably won’t because even though I tend to bare it all on my this blog, I still hold some things private. However, I will be sharing the ways in which I pulled myself out. Throughout the next month I will be writing about the changes I made, within myself and in my life, because whatever I did, it worked–2011 was one of the best years I’ve had in a long time.
I want to write about it for cathartic reasons, but also because I hope, it will resonate with some of you.
To be continued . . .