A Closed Open Road

Over the past year and a half, I’ve lived with an anxiety disorder that’s been both a blessing and curse.  These are more than “just panic attacks” many people say I have to “work through”.  Chunks of my time disappear through dissociation. Falls are a regular part of my day. Conversations are confusing and frustrating for both me and any party involved.  Some of what triggers these events are manageable;  others are random, making it feel impossible to categorize and concur.   I’m being treated with psychotherapy and medication.  The process is long, slow and depressing.

Depressing.

That adds a whole new element to my world.

When anxiety moves from the emotional realm to the physical, there are a number of compromises.  I was very good at the job I can no longer hold.  A book can take me weeks to finish instead of two or three days.  The most difficult compromise is my lack of independence.  I shouldn’t drive—I never know when I might black out.  For the first time in 25 years, I’m not working—I need to rely on my husband to support me.  I don’t go anywhere alone.  I Miss my Independence.  I Miss getting in the car and visiting a friend on a whim.  I Miss buying myself a treat because I put in long, hard hours and can spend my money as I wish.  My husband is wonderful.  He’ll take me wherever, whenever I want and he tries not to knock his head against the wall as he reminds me I don’t have to “ask” before a purchase.

But it’s different than being in control… than living independently.

Why should this be such an issue?  On the surface, I have a very easy life. My husband makes a good enough salary to support us.  Beyond that, he trusts me.  He knows I won’t go on a spending spree on a whim. He knows if I could work, I would.  He is understanding when I have days where I can’t do much more than the basics needed to live.  He doesn’t take my contributions to our home for granted.  He doesn’t blame me for needing a long time to heal. (Yes, he has a brother.  He’s married too.)

Have you noticed anything about my very easy life?

It’s very, very tiny. 

I love my husband.  I’m grateful every single day for him.  But I do have friends other than him.  I have fabulous friends.  I don’t see them. I don’t have a “girls’ night out”.  Why?  I don’t have the freedom to go without arranging for a ride.   It’s difficult to set up a play date for me.  We don’t live too far away from each other but I have to inconvenience someone to take 2 hours out of their time to drive me.   How fair is that? To anyone?

Public transportation isn’t the answer.  1) It exists as a very limited resource in my literal neck of the woods. 2) If it did and I had a major attack while riding, I’d end up in the ER.  (Yes, these attacks can be bad enough to scare someone into calling 911.)  

So… I end up isolating myself.  Friends have called.  I have nothing in the way of news to tell them and our conversations end up dying out.   My anxiety twists my perception of reality and I’m afraid to call them.  It’s a pattern.  I see it.  I don’t know how to break it.

Where’s the blessing?   I know I have the unconditional love of my family and friends.  Not having to support myself affords me ample time to heal. I’m learning more about myself than I ever have before.

And although my progress feels painfully slow, I know this is only temporary. 

To be continued….

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3 thoughts on “A Closed Open Road

  1. I know where you’re coming from. Most people I know who get panic attacks just have feelings of terror and a pounding heart (not that I minimize what that feels like. I know it’s absolutely terrifying). I, like you, lose consciousness. What happens to me looks like a seizure, but it’s brought on by panic rather than an electrical imbalance in the brain. I’ve had it for years. I used to live in complete fear of it. Now, I try to accept it as part of me. Not easy, but accepting it has been helpful.

    I’m sorry it’s so difficult for you right now. I pray you will find your way through this difficult time. I have faith that you will.

    • A seizure is a great way to explain it. It’s hard to say “I’m glad I’m not the only one” when I don’t wish this on anyone! Thank you for your comment and your own post. I’m working on accepting— it’s easy to “know” but another thing altogether to internalize. Thank you for your prayers and faith. It’s very appreciated.

  2. While what I’ve gone through is not your experience, I see some similarities. I suffered a severe injury three years ago. Best described as a broken leg, I broke my knee when my leg fell asleep while walking and simply collapsed under me. But it’s not just the broken bone; that incident pulled everything there was to be pulled from my ankle to my thigh and three years later, walking is still difficult and painful and I suppose it always will be. So I know about the isolation and I’m not the type that craves it either. The first two years were the worst but as I apprise my situation the truth is that the people I thought my friends looked the other way and the people in my life today are friends I made while going through that experience…says something about my choice of friends doesn’t it? 🙂

    As I improve my life gets fuller and I can only wish the same for you. Still, if you have friends that want to see you; want to take the time and trouble, don’t turn them away…I say keep them close, they are treasures!

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