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A Night Of Turmoil

Anxiety and panic can strike us out of nowhere.

This is his story:

As my work day began to wind down on Friday, I got antsy as I looked forward to Saturday’s big duck hunt with my son, Bryan. My excitement level was high as it’s always a great time getting my boy into the woods and watching him learn the ways of the wild. We also have the opportunity to put some tasty treats in the freezer.

I called Bryan into school on Friday and took him to work with me as we were hunting just a few miles from work. I work fifty miles from home and it’s senseless to make the the long drive home just to come right back Saturday. We decided to stay with my in-laws -the best a man could ask for- instead, which is only twenty miles away.

Around 10 PM, after a bit of good conversation and some TV at my in-laws, my father in-law hit the sack. My son and I figured it was probably a good idea too, as our 3:30 am wake up call would be upon us shortly. Bryan was out in no time, but no sooner had my head hit the pillow, my mind started reeling. I have no idea why, but it was going into overdrive at an alarming rate, even as I did my best to fight it.

I thought it was just the excitement of the next day’s events and would wear off soon, but wow, was I wrong.

In a matter of minutes I was up pacing through the house, my mouth dry, my breaths rapid. My mind could not concentrate on any one thing.

I was having a panic attack and my medications were 75 miles away. That’s right, I forgot them at home. I had been doing great lately, and it never really crossed my mind to bring them along just in case.

Well here I was in the midst of a full-blown panic and had no idea what to do. I picked up the phone and called my wife, knowing full well that she would be asleep because it was now approaching 11:30 and she never stays up that late.

She was so wonderful and gave me time to chat and tried to relieve my tensions a bit. I didn’t keep her on the phone long but was so appreciative of her willingness to even allow me to call that late without getting pissed off. Her talk and encouragement was a bit helpful, but I was still contemplating making the hour-plus drive home in the middle of the night just to get my medication.

Then it dawned on me. My friend Luke was probably going out somewhere for the evening since his wife was out of town, so maybe I could get in touch with him.

I called Luke’s cell phone but there was no answer. I left a brief message explaining my dilemma and asked him to call me back. About ten minutes later the phone rang. I figured it was my wife just checking up on me, but it was Luke.

He was almost back in town from a night out and would be more than happy to have me over for awhile, even though it was midnight and he had to work the next day. I was in such panicked state that it took me two tries to get into the car and drive the three miles to his house.

Every time I’d get into the car, I’d think: I will never make it over there and I couldn’t breathe. The world felt like it was going to collapse around me if I sat in that drivers seat too long, so I’d pull back into the in-law’s driveway. I would get out, walk back into the house, then turn right back around and get into the car.

Finally, I made it to Luke’s house, but he wasn’t there. I tried to get out of the car and wait for him but my head wouldn’t leave me alone. My throat was tightening and it seemed like my airway was going to close any minute if I didn’t do something drastic. I knew this was all in my mind at the time and yet I had no control.

That thought alone made it worse. I jumped back in my car to head back to the in-laws. Just as I got to the first stop at the end of Luke’s road, he pulled into the road and waved me back.

I followed him to his house and we sat outside for awhile before I worked up the nerve to go inside without feeling caged in. A few minutes was all I could handle indoors…the heat, the lack of oxygen, the walls…I had to get out.

Luke was more than willing to follow. I’m not much of a drinker, but a 22oz hard lemonade seemed like it might help slow me down a bit. I slammed that while Luke sipped on one himself. Usually one of those is enough to put me on the couch for the evening! But this was no ordinary evening and no ordinary panic attack.

I have only had an attack this severe a couple of times and I hated it. Before I knew it, I had Luke out waking down the dirt drive at 2:00 am, and he did it with no complaints. We wandered back to the house and went inside for a little more chit-chat.

It was now close to 3:00 am and I could see that Luke was fading fast. The good thing was that it would soon be time to wake my son for his duck hunt, and my mind was starting to shift into a lower gear in preparation for the day of hunting. I needed to keep myself in check for the safety of my son.

The fog in my head slowly began to lift as I pulled into my in-laws driveway at 3:10 am. I was actually able to chill long enough to take a shower. When I came out of the shower, I felt as if the world had been lifted from my shoulders. My wonderful son was sleeping peacefully on a futon mattress on Grandma’s floor, oblivious to the hell I’d been through over the past 4 hours. I was tired but rejuvenated with a clear mind.

I took my son on the hunt. It was a wonderful morning. Warm, calm, and the mosquitoes didn’t even bother me. Ducks were flying and my son was doing pretty good hitting them. I had a wonderful day, and I must say that it was due to the patience and understanding of my wonderful wife and my friend Luke.

Luke is the true definition of a friend. I have known Luke for the better part of thirty years and I would do anything for him. He is more like a brother to me than a friend. I would be hard pressed to find another person on this planet that would be willing to sacrifice a night of sleep just to help a guy through a hard time.

Luke is a true friend, and true friends are hard to come by. He helped me through a night of turmoil that could have led to tragedy if I had not had him to talk to and keep my mind off the senseless ramblings. He was there for me and I am eternally grateful.

I am always here for you if you need me, brother!

I Am Me and Me Is Who I Am

This is a contribution to the I Am Me Project. I’m a ten year old girl with a soft heart and a million possibilities. Born into a wealthy family, we don’t have trouble with money, but my parents aren’t going to let that turn me into a snotty, spoiled child.

One of my ears doesn’t work, or at least the horrible muffled up sounds that do make it through, aren’t noticeable. I have a short temper and an easy-to-break heart. Sensitive physically and emotionally, I am treated like a rag doll.

I try my best to help others, not knowing if they are thankful or not. I’m soft and always happy to socialize and talk. I care about others and absorb their feelings.

I’m proud of my character that cares about others maybe more than myself. I expect others to do the same as I do for them, making most of my bad situations worse when no one cares.

I love to write and act. I love to sing in musicals, and say my lines, and write my words. I’m proud of my creative capabilities to make amazing stories and facial expressions.

I have a therapist who helped me with my temper, but I’m proud I got help. I’m proud I don’t scream any more, unless it is necessary. I’m known for swinging between optimism and pessimism. But it’s good that I can see two sides of one world. I can have both high and low self esteem.

That’s Me, and Me is who I am.

And Me is always proud of who I am, and I’m proud of Me.

But I’m not the best version of me. I want to take the oath I’m afraid to take, the path that would make me better. No one’s perfect, and everyone should except that. No one should be left out, everyone should feel important.

I believe the purpose of life is to Survive, Love, Hate, Feel, Die. To survive, and be a survivor of your own war. To love, have friends and family there for you. To hate, to know the difference between someone you should be with and someone you shouldn’t be with. To feel, to feel happiness, fear, heartbreak, anger. To feel the emotions of life. And to die, end it, and give space for someone to go on their own path of life.


Star Trek

Star Trek has been a constant companion in my life. Since I was a small child, I have LOVED the adventures and morality expressed by the series. What’s not to love about a society where none are left behind because of poverty or illness? A society where every individual is able to reach their full potential. Where people are valued above profits or power. Lives aren’t wasted on wars of acquisition. Technology is used to improve the lives of the people rather than to further enslave or control.

It’s one of the hopeful visions of our future.  Somehow, I know that one day the human race will evolve away from our apish animal nature to this higher existence. Perhaps not by the 23rd or 24th centuries, but sometime. Our survival depends on it.


“Just Get Over It…”

I had my meeting today with the university, to go through with the complaint. I went in thinking, “Yeah, I’m not going to believed. He works here, of course I’m not going to be. ”

I didn’t think this would become a reality. I sat down at the table with my best friend on my right and some strange old woman who is apparently “unbiased” and high up within the university.

She just went straight into saying how the university cannot do anything, saying there is no proof. Oh I’m sorry. Did you even give me a chance, or did you even try and find evidence? I am still suffering with bleeding after it, is that not proof enough for you? I’ve had to see the counselor for the past five months for my anxiety …No. It’s still not enough for you. Why? Oh yeah because, as you begin to tell me, he is a close friend and you’ve worked with him for years! …unbiased ..what bull shit.

She told me, plainly and simply, “get over it.” Come back next year and have a fresh start. Does the bitch not think that I have been trying to put it past me? I’ve barely slept!  Because of the fear of this meeting coming up and having to explain what happened, I probably only got, at most five hours of sleep, for the past eight days.

But this is the end of it, apparently. I can’t do anything else because he works there. I knew this would give him an advantage, but didn’t think it would get to the point where I was being questioned if I truly think it even happened…

Life is down the drain.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

We left home for the ER around 7:45 Tuesday evening. I packed a bag for Princess- a few changes of clothes (no drawstrings, hoods, scarves, belts or jewelry), a few books, some toiletries (not her hair pick, no bar soap). I brought my knitting and a magazine to read.

By now I know the answers the nurses and doctors need to hear. I rattled off the history of the previous visits and hospitalizations. I identified her current and previous medications, by name, dosage and treatment schedule. The terminology is almost second nature now- she is not in active crisis, but is unable to ensure that she is fully capable of maintaining her own safety at home.

The bipolar tendencies were first diagnosed in September, and her brother’s mood disorder (the ever popular “NOS,” which in layman’s terms means “your kid’s brand of crazy doesn’t fit the current DSM definition”) was diagnosed about 20 months ago. There is no diagnosed history from parents or previous generations.

Note that I don’t say there is no mental illness in the parents or previous generations; I firmly believe that there has to be something on both sides that we just don’t have on paper. I can’t accept that I ended up with two children with such significant mood disorders just by the luck of the draw.

The transport to the psychiatric hospital came at 7:30 on Wednesday. We were ready to leave. 24 hours of hospital food and sleeping on a the chair that pulls out to a cot took its toll. I survived the 35 minute drive, as I followed the ambulance, without significant incident. The blowout I got during that same drive in September remained in the back of my mind. We got her checked in without any snags. A couple of the nurses recognized her name when the paperwork was handed to them. They checked her bag, noting that everything was acceptable (I learn from experience). She hugged me goodbye and asked if I was coming to visit every day. I promised that we would try to visit, and would call if we could not be there in person.

No one cried.

I feel numb and empty.

The experts tell me what to do, I do those things, and yet we are not able to help her. I have come to believe that she needs a specialized school situation, one which provides the cognitive behavioral therapy that she needs to combat the irrational thoughts before they become emotional actions. The medication is not enough.

But the specialized school will require many, many hoops to be jumped through. I am in the process of the educational evaluation that has the potential to put her in this type of school without me needing to go bankrupt. But I am scared to admit to my husband or my parents or my friends or the current school that the special school is what I really want for Princess. They fear a stigma, or an inability to re-assimilate to the life we’d planned for her (e.g., attendance at the private school at which her dad is the band director). I fear that the adjustment to a new group of students and a new school will be more anxiety-provoking than returning to her current situation, although she reverts to the harmful behaviors when she is back at school for more than a few weeks.

The more I research and the more I learn, the less I really know about any of this.