I’m not very good when it comes to writing about personal experiences. I can excel at book or movie reviews, political opinions or even fictional stories, but other than that, I shut up like a clam. Yet I’m tired of hiding the truth, fearing what others will think when they find out. In days of old, people with depression or mental problems were locked away in sanitariums and labeled as freaks. While I know that no one is going to have me committed, for me rejection is like a slap in the face, one that I can do without. Sympathy would be nice, but in reality all I want is to find someone who understands where I’m coming from.
Do you know what anxiety attacks are? I didn’t until 2002, when I started to have them. I don’t know what went wrong; growing up I was a little shyer than most, you could even call me a Nervous Nellie, but I was normal enough. As a preteen I was emotional but in the summer of 2001, I rededicated my life to Christ, life was a bit more enjoyable. By age fifteen, I thought about getting a job and figured that I’d eventually start studying for my learner’s permit. All that changed in January 2002; after a nasty case of indigestion, whenever I became nervous I’d get sick to my stomach and sometimes vomit. Gross, I know, but that’s what happened. It wasn’t bulimia; it’s not like I was intentionally making myself sick. I don’t know what it was and to this day I can’t explain it, but the thought of vomiting scared me to death that I worried about it all the time, to the point where I’d get nauseous about eating. It went on like that for a few months, until that summer. It seemed that I was doing better, aside from the fact that I cried easily. Because of my nerves I couldn’t get a job and driving was the last thing on my mind. I was never closer to God than I was then. My prayer life was never better and I read the Bible several times a day. During that time I also maintained a tiny, evangelical website called F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely On God), which was a welcome distraction considering what was going on in my personal life. It was that year I also wrote my first real story, a novella based on an old story passed down through the family. Actually, I went through several drafts of that work before setting aside for a period of time.
Then one Saturday in the latter part September, I was mowing the lawn and by the time I finished I was thoroughly exhausted. The rest of that day was a little off to me. The next day was Sunday and I woke up with my head in a whirl. I felt detached from myself; shaky, light headed, nervous. It was like I was having an out of body experience. If the wind was blowing, I’m sure it could have knocked me over. Despite all that, I went to church but then while we were singing I begged my mom to take me home and she did. I figured I was just having a bad day, but I woke up the next morning feeling the same way. And the next, and the next, and the next…
I pleaded with God to heal me. For awhile there I thought I was possessed or that I had a brain tumor and that I was wasting away, or that I was gradual losing my mind and that I would eventually go insane. I feared that I’d do something embarrassing or that I’d harm somebody. Mom was watching TV and heard this thirty-year-old guy on a talk show speak about how he went to the hospital thinking that he had a heart attack. In reality it was just an anxiety attack. From his symptoms, she was able to determine that I was probably suffering from the same thing. Several weeks passed and I didn’t get any better, actually I was getting worse. I’m sure my parents were at their wit’s end. Not only that, my dad had been unemployed for about a year, my grandma’s health was beginning to fail her… my nerves weren’t helping anyone. During that time my creative flow was stunted. I relied on God more and more, but was too tired to work on my website or my novella.
Mom did some research on the Internet and learned that anxiety attacks could be caused by hyperthyroidism. Dad and Mom brought me to the doctor and after the usual blood tests and a close-to-fainting spell in the lab area, he agreed that that I had a thyroid problem. That was a load off of my mind. I preferred to have a disease rather than have a psychological problem. I guess I’m the kind of gal who believes in pulling herself up by her bootstraps. Anyway, after his diagnosis, he scheduled a thyroid scan for me in January of 2003 and said he’d see me in a month, saying to enjoy the holidays.
Yeah, right…that whole month was crazy! Like a normal kid, I was excited about Christmas and for my sixteenth birthday. Christmas wasn’t bad, but on my birthday I was a basket case. I spent the whole morning in tears. Mom called the doctor and she was encouraged to put me on the Zoloft samples that the doctor had given us. The next week was an emotional blur for me. I was relieved to get that thyroid scan over and done with, that way I could get started on my medication. God decided differently. You know the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for life." The scan and the blood test came back saying that there was NOTHING wrong with my thyroid! But my problems were far from over. Actually, it this was just beginning.
Part 2 coming soon…
Please give me some feedback on this story. Comment and tell me what you think, give your opinion or let me know if you have had a personal experience.