Everyone says this is the most wonderful time of the year, but I beg to differ. I used to be like everyone else. I used to enjoy the cheesy Christmas decorations, baking dozens of cookies, listening to Christmas music obnoxiously for hours on end, going Christmas shopping.… that’s not me anymore.
It’s hard to pretend every day that I’m happy, yet pretend to be happy and celebrate Christmas every year, now that you’re gone isn’t something I can do.
Traditionally holidays emphasize time spent with your loved ones, whether that would be with your family or friends. I would always love spending the holidays together with my family, getting my dose of brother and sister time in. Doing all the hobbies we loved, when you were home from college and I could spend valuable time with you.
That’s why I dread and hate holidays now. You are gone. I can’t spend Christmas break with you, I can’t buy you a present or do silly sibling activities together. I’m reminded of these things daily, and with the holiday it brings more attention to the fact that I don’t have you here anymore.
It’s so incredible, how much my body knows and reacts to holidays these last 2 years. I have been doing well, more so than ever it has seemed like. My anxiety has been manageable. I haven’t felt like I was going to die, nor did I feel like I had this impending doom hanging over me.
I haven’t had intense chest pains, I haven’t felt my heart pound through my chest or skip a beat. I haven’t felt lightheaded or dizzy. I haven’t had numbness in my leg, or intense shooting pains throughout my body… until Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving.
I was driving Wednesday, and had an anxiety attack. One of my biggest fears. I got this weird pain in my head, that radiated throughout my whole body. The left side of my face went numb, and my heart started beating out of my chest. I almost had to pull over. I rolled down the window, in hopes the cold air would bring me back down to earth, bring me back down to reality.
It seemed like eternity but when I finally got home I grabbed Rufus and bawled. I sobbed into my poor dog’s chest. I tried to control my breathing, and I tried to let all my anxiety melt away. I tried to forget that tomorrow was yet another year, another holiday without you.
And this is all because it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Every time I see a Christmas tree, a Santa or presents for example, I become nauseous. It makes me sound like the Grinch, but I honestly can’t appreciate these type of things anymore. Thanksgiving was fine this year, I was with family which was great and then I came home and stayed in with Rufus.
He is my only consolation. He is one of the few things that can distract my heart and mind from losing you. Not many people understand what comfort and security my dog brings to me.
The few days after Thanksgiving, I had some of the worst chest pains I’ve ever had. I honestly thought I was going to die of a heart attack. I had to lie in bed, and try to talk myself out of the thought of dying. I had to try to console myself. I didn’t call my mom, I didn’t text any of my friends. I just laid in bed, battling back and forth with my mind.
I tried many things to help me relax, to take my mind of my chest pains. Nothing helped. I had to lie there and suffer. Suffer physically from losing you.
It’s the worst kind of pain. The pain I know that is coming, the pain that I can’t control and I can’t stop. This is what my mental illness does to me.
No matter how many times I tell myself I’m not having a heart attack, or a blood clot, I still cannot convince myself otherwise. I’ve learned now with my medication to not rush into the Emergency Room once I’m feeling these physical symptoms. I’ve learned to not call 911 or my mom, and tell her I think I’m dying.
I’ve learned to sit back and take the pain. I’ve learned to close my eyes, and hope the pain eventually stops. It eventually does, but my mind always goes back to the same place. The place of death. The place of me dying alone. The place where I can’t say goodbye to my loved ones. My biggest fear.
I hope as Christmas comes along, that I will be able to manage and somewhat control my anxiety. I know the physical symptoms will come and go in the next month, and I just hope I can tolerate them. I hope my mind stays somewhat clear, and that I won’t end up in the Emergency Room or end up passing out from my anxiety.
What I’ve learned in therapy is to continue to attempt one day at a time. I can only live in this moment, and can’t walk on egg shells waiting for my next anxiety attack.
So, all I’m doing in this moment is learning to breathe.
Until next time.
So it goes.