Thursday, December 17, 2009

"I can get through the day but at night it seems everything catches up to me. "

JAP, age 30. Des Moines, IA.

My Belly Aches Blue - Lorazapam Flu (Lyrics from Blue October)

I wonder if I will ever be off the medication. I wonder if I even want to be. Do I want to get better? Do I like having this as an excuse to not socialize.

I am the definition of anti-social, yet I can't stand the thought of being alone. I hate to go to work, but I feel better when I'm there because I can focus on something else besides this "weirdness" I constantly feel inside me. Will I ever feel normal again?

It began when I was 17. I was driving home and all of sudden everything became like a video game. Nothing seemed real and the corners of my eyes started to turn black. The car was closing in on me. I pulled over, got out of the car and called my mom. Mom, Mom, something is wrong!! I can't breath, my vision is weird, I feel weird! Calm down, maybe you just haven't eaten good enough today, you do have a protein deficiency. Ok, ok, calm down. I'm right down the street from home. I can get there. I can get there. It happened a few more times. Once while driving on vacation with my boyfriend and we had to switch drivers while we were still driving so we didn't loose who we were following. I couldn't drive anymore, I was loosing it. I rolled down my window and spent the next hour with my face in the wind and my eyes closed.

It didn't happen again until a year ago. I had been drinking the night before and was hung over. I thought that was all it was. I took some Advil and drank some Alka Seltzer. My heart started racing and my eyes starting feeling funny again. It felt again like nothing was real and I couldn't focus. My chest hurt, I couldn't breath, my hands were shaking and sweating and tingly and numb. I thought I was going to die! It took my husband 2 hours to calm me down while I went from laying in bed to laying on the floor. I finally fell asleep but in a state of terror. I woke up feeling scared but no longer terrified. I was drained.

Then next one happened at work. Same symptoms. I work in a call center and was on the phone with a client. I told her I would have to put her on hold and eventually had to have a co worker take over the call because I couldn't come back to my desk. I knew when it affected my work that I had to do something.

I went to the Dr and they tried to convince me I had a heart problem. I knew better. I'd felt this way before, but I did all their tests which came back fine. I said, I told you so, NOW HELP ME! 1 mg Ativan twice a day, 20 mg of Celexa once a day. Celexa makes me feel sick, almost makes the anxiety worse. I quit taking it but I still take the Ativan. It helps me sleep.

I can get through the day but at night it seems everything catches up to me. I try to lay down and relax in bed and sleep but my brain won't shut off and I start to feel closed in. I pop my Ativan and I start to feel better as I drift to sleep. No one understands what I am going through. My husband thinks I'm crazy. I blame him because if he wouldn't have cheated on me 7 months after we got married the attacks wouldn't have been triggered again. I hate him, I'm angry with him. I hate her, I'm angry with her. I know what's caused them, but what do I do about it now. I go to a therapist. He is awesome. He teaches me about Red and Blue. If you keep thinking Red, all you will see is Red, recognize Red for what it is and think Blue. I practice and practice everyday. I still deal with the anger even though I've made the decision to stay married and honor my vows. I have this garbage to work through.

I start to journal and it's like I am bulimic. I purge everything I have onto my paper. I go through pen after pen, book after book. Pouring out words of hatred and fear. I listen to Blue October 24/7. I carry their words with me like I carry my Bible. I start to feel better everyday but then a memory will come and send me spiraling back down. Now I'm diagnosed with severe panic disorder and depression. They add Wellbutrin, 150 mg. God, will this ever end??? Should I just walk away from my marriage? Will that take the feelings away? No, I can't do that, I love him. God doesn't approve of divorce. He's not cheating, he's being faithful, he's sorry, he's working on it. Forgive and move on.

I read Samantha's book, I don't want to be crazy, and I can't remember when I related to someone more. When she said, it's like I'm in one room and my panic is on the other side of the door, I cry. That's how I feel. My panic is at arms length. I am dependent on these pills so I don't feel the fear. I take everyday one day at a time and try to not miss to much work. I try to function as a mom, but I feel like I'm robbing my son of a real life because mommy can't function. I try to ignore it and sometimes it works. I read any book I can get my hands on and I try all the methods and breathing exercises and writing exercises and all of it seems to be only temporary.

Prayer. I pray constantly. I always have but I'm thinking that the Lord is using this to bring me closer to Him, more dependent on Him. If that is the case I think I can handle the fear. I pray to just know His will.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“Me, meet WhoIWas – A lot has changed, just to let You know.”

Anonymous, age 17.

I am known: like a child, so eager to receive, I take my place. Like a timeline, I make a mark, so afraid to run out of space. This is where I have brought myself, like a choice I just couldn’t make. Like a sudden break, I fall. Like a final failure, I risk it all. This is who I have become, shattering into a million tiny pieces. Like a voice, just a voice, with no words of reason; like charades, and the only one left guessing is me. This is what it’s like to anticipate the fall. Like a wound that refuses to heal or a single moment that changes it all; I am afraid. I am no child, begging to panic. I am not a timeline, counting each second. I am not broken beyond repair or a carless mistake. I want to be heard, to be understood, even by me. I am not left alone to infect myself, to die a lost cause. I assure myself of all these things, reminding myself when I forget. I make sense of it all, trying to tighten my grip, but there is something that brings me closer to the edge, haunting me with fear until all else fades. This is too close for comfort, too real to fake; too much to handle, too blinding to wake. I will not live my life this way. I was made for more than this. So I take myself away, as I try to heal and breakthrough, I encounter the life I’m brought to. Full of refusing to relive my past – this is me, this is who I can be, free of past struggles, no longer controlled by anxiety. This is how far I have come: from child to years down the road, mending together my broken whole, leaving behind the mask; I have a voice that speaks volumes and a life worth living. I am not a victim. I want to break free of how you know me. Are you listening, please? Know nothing about me. Forget about how long it took before I finally could be, just be, without panic or fear. Forget about the attacks that waged, surrounding me. Forget about how I was on my worst day, or on my best. I know it seems necessary to understand, to see it through my eyes, to try to break the fall, but let yourself refocus. All you need to know is I have left behind everything, all of me, except the parts that matter most. I have never forgotten the way it felt, or walked away from the story I have to tell. I know I can reach out, touch the dark places where no one else can reach. I know there is life outside the cage, and a reason to keep breathing. I know, because I’ve been there. Know you are stronger than you think you are. Know, if nothing else, that in ever battle, victory is on its way.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"I can actually breathe now."

Claire Ross, age 15. New York.

Looking back, I can see I've had a problem for a while. Ever since I was little. The insomnia. The panic attacks. The compulsions. The repetition. It's an endless cycle. It was familiar for the longest time, but I never had a name for it until I was diagnosed a little while ago with both Panic Disorder (with Agoraphobia) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There's something comforting about a label for it. It fits me into my tiny little four sided box. I don't have a choice. I never did. It's been a part of me for so long, for a while I even thought it was normal. Not now. I used stay awake at night worrying that I'm not normal. That my panic disorder defines me. After being on 50 mg of Zoloft for a few months and going to therapy, I've made significant progress, and I've learned that I'm not alone. It's a struggle, but the attacks aren't as frequent. I can actually breathe now. I can sleep. I can focus and function, remotely happily. Finally.

"I have this innate attraction to self-destruction."

E., age 21. Illinos.

I want to say I thought about it,
but I didn’t.
I want to say I had the knife at my
wrist, and I almost didn’t do it.
But that’s not what happened.
What happened is I got sick of it
sick of being scared all the time.
I wanted the panic to leave my chest.
So I let the blade sink in,
I dragged it across and watched,
numb, as the skin turned white and
then red.

Releasing the Soul
To pass the time, I write.
Try to purge everything negative out of me;
make the paper the one to suffer all
the pain, the sadness, the cruelty
of this world.
I write so that maybe I can stop
the feelings inside of me from
building up and bursting out
like they have done so many times before.
I write because the one goal I’ve found to strive for
in these most unwilling days,
is that eventually I will be the one

in control.
There is a force inside of me
itching to destroy.
I have this innate attraction to self-destruction.
But maybe writing it down
is like letting it go,
and words will be the one thing that
saves me.

"I have been fighting this, whatever this is, for the past four years."

DEAD, age 15. Virgina.

And recently I have gained a friend who has been able to talk me through situations that I would other wise not be able to get through. We were chatting over email one Sunday and the topic of my Tokio Hotel Fan Fiction novel came up. The story here starts when my friend asks me, regarding another fan fiction I am writing and it's main character, “Was Ananya from The Pain Of Love based off you?”

My answer, “Yes, Ananya was based off of me. Her character in the most simplest form was based off of me. Of course i changed her name and her love for her family that died, was something i wish i had: the love for my family. Not the dying part of her family though.

“Tokio Hotel is portrayed in TPOL in the same manner of importance in Ananya's life that Green Day has played in mine. I was literally, a day away from suicide. i take that back HOURS away from suicide. We were in Everett Washington. we were headed for Seattle and i knew we were going to take a cruise around the Seattle harbor. i had planned and set my heart might mind and soul on jumping off the front end of the ship while it was moving.

“i got in the car and i asked my sister for a CD to listen to in my Walkman. she handed me this disk and said, 'skip track two' i put it in and heard "Don't Wanna Be An American Idiot." sung by Billie Joe Armstrong. i listened to the entire American Idiot CD over twice before we got to Seattle.

“And i am here today. Bill saving Ananya from suicide in TPOL is like Green Day saving me from my own death Then there are the fictional points of Ananya that i added to make her seem less like me and more like a made up figure.”

Her reply was “You know, something told me that it was you. I'm not really sure how or why. Maybe Ananya's character just had more depth and so much more emotion poured into her than Summer, even though the writing style is the same and everything. It must've been a little nerve wracking to do that... basically expose yourself like that even though people don't know that it is you.”

“Well yes and no because Ananya is shrouded by Tokio Hotel instead of Green Day, and Bill instead of Billie, i think it is easier to write for her and i mean as her story progresses, she becomes a lot less like me and more like, well Ananya.

“She becomes more of her own person her on entity her own character and personality forms and it becomes less prominent that she is based off of me. but Ananya does take after me in one more major thing that i can think of off the top of my head She didn't attempt suicide, her Second personality did see, i am Bipolar and times i think that i have bi personality that is really where Ananya splits from being a hidden me to being her own person”

This lead to the discussion of multiple personality disorder. By the end of the chat, my friend has put my on terms where I know who these people in my head are. Billie and June. Billie is this punk ass girl who doesn't take shit from the world. June is this religious girl who is loosing the fight against Billie. And then there is me, the girl the host body, trying to keep from going insane.

I would just like to say, I would not have been able to sit here and write this if it wasn't for her.

Friends are a nice thing...