I close my eyes. I picture myself naked. Laying down on a cold marble floor. There are no windows, there are no doors. A bright light is shielding my body from the world. Breath in slowly. I feel my body begin to lift off the hard marble and float upwards. I’m not sure what is up there but I’m not afraid. Exhale. The brightlight warms me. I am not afraid. I keep floating higher and higher. There is no sound. No breeze. Just perfect stillness as I float ever higher.
I am being absolutely consumed by my fear and anxiety. I literally can’t stop it. Its all the time. Every minute of every day I spend with racing thoughts and a racing heart. With panicked thoughts of worst case scenario. With the feeling that if I don’t get out this fear will overcome me and I will be lost. Spending the entire day telling myself you can do anything for 15 minutes just make it through the next 15 minutes. You are okay. You aren’t going to die. You will make it through this. This isn’t going to happen forever.
But the panic is still there. My mouth is dry with worry. My hands are cold and shaking. I feel a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. Is this an acute appendicitis? I begin to google my symptoms. And now it’s confirmed. I’m dying. Help. Someone. Hailey, no one will help you. You are a grown woman and you need to be able to take care of this by yourself. You have to take care of this by yourself. What the hell is wrong with you?
I used to always be good at my job. But now I just spend the entire day battling away my worried thoughts and trying not to escape out the front door.
When I finally get home I think I will feel safe and the panic that consumed my every thought all day will be over. But I am wrong. I sit down on the couch and now I have a new set of worries. Is my panic making me a bad wife? How annoying to have to deal with someone like me. My poor husband doesn’t deserve this. This doesn’t just effect me it effects him too. What am I supposed to do? I over think obsessively and apologize profusely for being so difficult, I tell him I hate being in my own head I can’t imagine what it’s like to be around me. I cry. I can’t stop, I feel like if I keep crying I will throw up. One of my biggest anxiety triggers. So I panic. Afraid I will throw up which my brain tells me will actually kill me.
My husband holds me, comforting me, promising me that I’m not a burdened and that he loves me and we can get through anything together. I feel like a fucking child. I am so pathetic.
I want to believe him but I know I need to hold my panic back. I can’t show it. I need to pretend I’m okay so we can enjoy this movie. But I can’t because he pulls me into cuddle and when I lay down the bile in my throat rises and I feel like I’m choking. I need to sit up quickly and I go to the bedroom to grab a piece of gum, my vice. My husband jokes that gum is to me what a cigarette is to some. If I keep chewing gum I will swallow continually and will not throw up or be sick. And I can clench my jaw and count my chews to quiet my mind-to focus my mind. He knows I’m struggling right now. He feels bad and there isn’t much he can do. I pretend I’m all right and he goes along not wanting to increase my panic. We finish the movie. I need to go to sleep. I start thinking about how difficult tomorrow is going to be and how I will be able to control it. What I can do to stop it from coming. I’m in bed. It’s time to sleep.
If I fall asleep right now I will get 7 hours, that’s good. I can’t manage it better when I am rested. But I start to think about what will happen if I meet up with the other nannies and their kids tomorrow, will I feel the panic rise and struggle to keep them from knowing.
If I fall asleep right now I will have 6 hours.
Okay. Tomorrow I absolutely have to be okay when I get home. Dan needs my love and affection he can’t always meet my needs when I neglect his. I quickly write a note in my phone to take special care of Dan tomorrow.
If I fall asleep right now I will have 5 hours.
Dan knows I’m awake, he’s worried, he rubs my back and sleepy says “are you okay sweetie” quickly I reply “yep, just can’t sleep, not tired” I read a saved article on how to overcome a panic attack. Doesn’t help. I close my eyes and count backwards from 100. I make it to 78 before I’m lost in another thought about how tired I’ll be tomorrow which will make it harder for me to fight these feelings. I cry without sound.
If I fall asleep right now I will get 4 hours of sleep.
4:30am Wake up to pee.
Back in bed. Go back to sleep I tell myself. You only have an hour and a half left. I feel like I have to pee again. Which is impossible I just went. Toss and turn. Finally give in. Just as I thought. Only a nervous bladder.
Back in bed. I picture a spiral staircase, I see myself walking slowly to the top leaving all my worries behind. I reach the top I can barely see my reality from here. Everything looks so small and manageable from so high. I start to float off the ground into the night sky. My worries are so far away as you float higher and higher towards the stars. I am weightless ……sleep.
Ten minute guided meditation.
Out the door.
People get in accidents in the snow. This is how people die. I’m afraid to drive. I turn on a guided meditation video from YouTube and get in my car. I try not to panic. Start counting down from 100. That will distract my mind. I get to 87.
My stomach hurts. Was it dinner? Was the chicken under cooked? Is it going to make me ill? Do I have food poisoning? Heart beats faster, my vision feels blurry, what if I throw up and that causes an accident? What if I pass out and can’t control the car? GPS says I’ll arrive at 7:55. Which means I’ll have 20 minutes in the car to prep myself for my day.
Finally. Parked outside work. I try to focus on my breathing. My stomach sinks because I know what’s coming. Close your eyes and float to the stars.