I was totally fine this morning. I woke up, went for a nice walk with my dogs, fed my Amazon habit by buying these super chic faux-marble makeup brushes. It was a lovely, sunny morning that seemed like it should be the beginning to a perfect day.
Then, while I was out grocery shopping with my husband, something just hit me high in the gut like a lightning bolt: a wave of absolute panic.
I’m prone to sensory overstimulation, but I can usually feel it coming on and get out of the situation before it becomes a big deal. This morning wasn’t like that at all — anxiety and panic overwhelmed me suddenly and irrevocably. I don’t know if the fluorescent lighting at the grocery store was too much for me, or the brightly-packaged products were overwhelming, or if the overhead music was too loud, but my flight-or-fight response kicked in and I had to get the fuck out of there.
My husband drove us home in my car, sans groceries. I sobbed the whole way, shaking and panicking. I felt suicidal. It seemed like I would feel that way forever — like there was no way I’d never be happy or calm again. Any part of my psyche that wasn’t experiencing inexplicable, overwhelming anxiety and terror felt embarrassed and frustrated with myself.
When we got home, my husband ran to the medicine cabinet and got me a Valium as I hyperventilated. I hadn’t had to take one in months, and I felt like a goddamn failure as I swallowed it between sharp, shallow, panicked breaths.
My stressed-thus-vulnerable brain filled with toxic thoughts which made me feel even worse. I’m so embarrassed. What’s the matter with me? How could anyone ever really love me when I act like this? There’s absolutely no reason for me to be acting this way! My husband shouldn’t have to put up with this shit. I’m such a weak fucking loser. I wonder if he’ll leave me. I hope he does — he’d be better off.
My saint of a husband, who has no mental illness, or experience dealing with mental illness outside of what he’s seen me go though, held me and comforted me until the Valium kicked in and I could breathe again. He’s so supportive, and never holds any of my mental issues against me.
After I’d calmed down, I felt exhausted and drained from all that adrenaline. My whole body ached from being so tense. I used to have panic attacks daily — even worse ones, where I’d actually pass out from hyperventilating.
I can’t imagine living like that anymore, and I hope everyone reading this who struggles with mental illness makes their mental health top priority, because no one should have to go through life panicking to the point of suicidal ideation spontaneously.
I’ve done a lot of thinking now that my Valium’s calmed me. Taking medication for mental illness doesn’t make you weak, or a failure. It shows you’re brave, if anything. It shows that you recognized toxic and unhealthy behaviors and thoughts in yourself and were strong and sensible enough to be proactive about correcting them.
And having panic attacks/mental illness doesn’t make you unlovable, or a bad partner, as long as you are being proactive about caring for your mental health. My husband puts up with my mental illness-related idiosyncrasies because he knows I’m doing my absolute best. I go to therapy twice a month. I see a psychiatrist monthly. I go for sunny walks, work out at the gym, meditate with crystals (I love using this set ) and do other things that are supposed to be good for your mental health along with taking prescribed meds.
You’re still a valuable person worthy of love, even if you slip sometimes and have a panic attack.
Don’t you dare let your mental illness tell you any differently!