Have you read yesterday's post? Because if you haven't, maybe check that one out before this one. It's kind of a sequel; an unexpected sequel.
Yesterday was a rough.day. Yikes. When I shared about my struggles with mental illness, I didn't think it was going to show its face so strongly in the rest of my day.
My day up until that point had been pretty good. I had stayed at the Willems' house for night, so I didn't have to wake up early. Val had put some freshly cut flowers on the nightstand, so the room smelled heavenly. The movie night had gone well, so I was feeling good about that, and I was ready for the day. Things were business as usual all morning, until around noon. I could feel a migraine creeping in; mine are always a slow build, which gives me time to run for cover. Literally. I crawl under the covers and try to sleep till it leaves. So I went home and tried to sleep before the full force of it hit me.
I woke up, feeling ready to continue with my day. The migraine has calmed down some, and I had a BBQ to get to. My friend Jayelle was having a bunch of work friends over to her place. I hadn't met most of these people, and I didn't remember the names of the ones I had met. But I wasn't worried- that's a pretty new feeling for me. I used to dread events with new and unfamiliar things for at least a week before it happened. So the fact that I was looking forward to this was great!
We can skip past the scenes of me getting ready, trying to find my shoes, etc...to me showing up in Morden, parking on her street, getting out of the car, and then turning around and getting right back in again.
Cue the panic attack.
I've had panic attacks before. Thankfully Kari has always been nearby to help me breath and come back to myself, but this time, I was alone. My head was just saying "nope, nope, nope, I can't do this," over and over again. My fight or flight instincts kicked in, and I decided flight was the best option. I tried to drive for a little while, but ended up pulling over. I don't know if you've tried to drive while not being able to breathe, but I don't recommend it. So here I am, sobbing and hyperventilating on the side of the road in Morden. I can't decide whether I should keep my car running to keep me cool, or turn it off to save gas. In the hard moments, making decisions is almost impossible.
I managed to calm myself down enough to keep driving, after I texted Jayelle to apologise for flaking and explain myself. As I get close to Winkler, I check my phone. She wants to make sure I'm okay, offers to come to me, tells me I should try and come back; she'd bought gluten-free buns and a cake for us. If anything, she at least wanted to make sure I got food.
I pull over again, this time into a parking lot. I feel the panic coming back. My hands and feet start to go numb. And I sob. All of my fear, self-doubt, frustration, and anger at myself comes pouring out. It's been a few years of dealing with depression and anxiety, but I still get frustrated by how much they run my life at times. I feel like I can't be a "normal person;" I want to be able to just show up at a BBQ and not have it be a big deal. And sometimes it's not. But yesterday, it was the biggest deal, apparently. Thanks, brain.
My therapist (yes, I go to therapy. And you should too!) has helped me find ways to calm down. It takes a while, and sometimes doesn't work on the first try, but I did my best. I found all the green things. It helps ground me. So my breathing got back to normal, my eyes were blurry and red, my face was puffy; I felt like the biggest mess. I picked up my phone and opened up Instagram. The first thing I saw was a picture of pink flowers, and this quote:
"It's about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving."
I decided to show up. I started up my car and drove back to Morden. Jayelle was waiting for me outside, and after a moment of panic (which she helped me through) I managed to get there. It took an hour and a half from the time I left Morden till when I finally got back there and through the door. And guess what? I had a good time! I got to chat with some people I hardly knew till I really knew them, laughed a ton, ate good food, and enjoyed a beautiful evening with new and old friends.
This was a huge victory for me. I have never gone back to something I've left before. I always go home and feel sorry for myself, upset that I couldn't do it. But no that day! I'm so thankful to have friends who support me, push me, and try to understand when even I can't explain what I'm feeling.
I know a lot of you struggle with similar things as me. That's why I wanted to share this with you. There are days that are struggles and days that are victories; you get to have both. If it feels like you've been trapped for a while, good things are coming. You don't get to stay in that place. It can be really hard, and some days you might not feel like trying, but trust me, it's worth it. Turn around and try again. I'm so proud of you.