My story begins with a young girl who was broken and did not understand how or why. As she grew up a darkness took over within her. It was a darkness filled with voices and a great sadness. The voices were not bad, they just kept shouting thoughts and ideas so fast that she could not focus on any one. At night they kept her awake. During the day they made it almost impossible to think or focus on any one activity. The sadness was so great that she created a smiling mask so that people would want to be her friend because no one wants to be friends with someone who is always sad and crying.
I was that young girl. I spent my life looking through the eye holes of that mask and feeling like I was looking through the window at what I so desperately wanted. I learned concentrated relaxation, deep breathing exercises, self hypnosis, and meditation techniques to help me through each day. To be able to live my life as I wanted to I became an obsessive, compulsive, perfectionist, overachiever. Occasionally a light would flash in that darkness and I would set my goals and begin projects, but when the light was gone those things still had to be done. I learned to make lists, set routines, get organized, and methodically stick to them. I would put the mask on every morning and start my day. For over 20 years I struggled and survived. I got married, had children, volunteered and worked hard at creating the life I wanted so desperately for myself and my family.
The last two years of that time I began to notice that something was really wrong. Food made me sick. My heart was always racing and anxiety was becoming a real problem. No matter how much sleep I got I was always exhausted. One day my children came to hug me and snuggle but I couldn’t stand to be touched. If one of them touched me I just wanted to peal off my skin and run down the street screaming. How do you explain to your child that they cannot hug you? I called it the “don’t touch me’s”. We would blow kisses and do heart hugs. I was constantly crying or yelling. My husband refused to help me because he was frightened and didn’t know what to do. My oldest, my sweet loving daughter, became the caretaker at the age of ten. She would take her little brothers and sister and send me off to take a nap. Sometimes it was so bad that I would hand her the baby and send myself to my room. I would tell her, “Unless the house is burning down or someone is bleeding to death don’t knock on my door.” It was at this point that my husband left us. I couldn’t do any more. My mother called and told me that she and my father were coming to get me and the kids.
It was then that I was able to get the help I needed. I spent three weeks in the hospital and was finally told what was broken. I have bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress, and an anxiety disorder. I had 8-10 anxiety attacks and 5-8 panic attacks every single day. Esophageal spasms, headaches, tremors, insomnia, constant fatigue and passing out were just a regular part of my life. I was really broken. I spent 12 years fighting to feel better. A lot of medication, counseling, several really really really bad choices and a baby later I began to be able to see what I needed to do. I got myself onto medication that was not so hard on my body. I eliminated the worst of the stress in my life by leaving an abusive relationship. I dropped my vertigo and sleep medications because they were causing some serious weight gain. Now I was on only my depression, anxiety and balance medications. Being me was still difficult, but I was functioning better. I became aware of the slightest change within my head so that I could gauge my stress levels and make any necessary changes to counter balance the chemical shift.
It was about this time that I was introduced to Xango. I was at a friend’s house with my brother playing games. I had a panic attack and had forgotten to bring my anxiety medication. We had just begun and I didn’t want to ask my brother to drive me the hour home. I was given three ounces of Xango and drank it out of desperation not expecting anything to happen. I was amazed when 15 minutes later I was feeling better. I was still having an anxiety issue, but it was manageable. I was able to stay and enjoy the games and friends. Xango didn’t make things better so much as easier to manage. I had made so much progress but it was still exhausting to be me.
Then Eleviv came into my life. I took my first vigor score and got a “0″ probably because you cannot get a negative number. I take two a day. Within four days I was tired, in bed and able to go to sleep by 11pm instead of somewhere between 1-3am. After the first month my vigor score was a four. At the end of two months I no longer needed to take my anti-anxiety medications. No more peanut butter for brains or next day hangovers. My vigor score was in the teens. After nine months came the miracle.
Remember all the voices shouting in my head? I had to watch TV and talk to my mother at the same time just so I could focus on working. Slowly, over time, I began to notice strange sensations within my head. I was worried that maybe the Eleviv was starting to cause me some problems. I talked to Dr. Talbott. To explain what I was feeling I had to put it into a visual. The closest that I could come up with was that it felt like someone had drained all the water out of my head and was moving boxes. It was very disconcerting because my head literally felt lighter and off balance. Dr. Talbott told me that it was probably because my cortisol levels had been so high for so long that I was experiencing some chemical changes. I stayed on the Eleviv. Soon I began to feel disconcerted and had a hard time remembering anything. If felt like someone was unplugging cables and plugging them in elsewhere at an alarming rate. Kind of like an old fashioned telephone switchboard. I felt dizzy and nauseous. I talked to Dr. Talbott again and was told the same thing as before. Apparently my stress levels had been extremely high. Then I had difficulty concentrating and I was unable to multitask. I was really feeling frustrated and a little scared that my mind had finally broken under the high stress in my life. Then it happened.
I sat down in the familyroom one day after an emotional conversation with HR. I was thinking how well I had handled it when I noticed the quiet. You know what I’m talking about. That quiet at the end of a very long, busy and noisy day. That sigh of relief moment. The difference was that the quiet was in my head. No amount of medication had ever quieted the noise in my head. Never even made a dent in the noise level. Now I am sitting in my home in utter amazement at the silence. I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how it feels, after more than thirty years of noise, to have quiet.
Am I cured? Definitely not. I am still on my two maintenance medications and will be for the rest of my life. Do I still have to be careful? Absolutely. The scariest thing is that it only takes two days off the Eleviv for the darkness to begin to creep in again. Do I have to manage my stress levels carefully? Yes! I cannot have too much fun or get too excited without having a serious down afterwards. I cannot over schedule myself or participate in highly emotional activities without serious consequences. I have had to relearn a lot of things. How to play the piano. Some hand eye coordination. How to react to my environment. How to interact with people. I am a completely different person on Eleviv than I am off. The best part is that I no longer where the mask. I am truly myself and content to be so.
So, you ask, why do I tell this story? Because there are many people like me in this world who struggle daily in that lonely darkness. I want them to know that there is more to life than just survival; their life can be full of light and joy and peace.
Now I am asking you, If Eleviv will do this for me, what will it do for you?