I’ve talked about the twins, Ann and Nick, of and on , but haven’t really focused on them specifically. I’ve always looked at them as, sort of, ancillary. They are not. While Bip and Pots have raged, the twins have wreaked havoc. When Bip and Pots seemed quiet, the twins have wreaked havoc. I was having multiple anxiety attacks AND multiple panic attacks each and every day.
Anxiety is something we all struggled with from time-to-time. That butterfly feeling in your stomach when you get up in front of people. That nervous feeling when you are trying something new. The worry of going someplace new. It is a normal part of life. For most people it is not something that interferes overly much in their life. For me, it is very different.
Why is anxiety a girl? Because girls are often more subtle than boys. Ann is very subtle and also precocious. She sneaks in behind the scenes and I often don’t know that she is there until she jumps out and says, “BOO!” Ann is ever-present in my life. Every where I go. Every time I turn around. There she is.
Ann has made it very difficult for me to participate in many of the normal things in my life. A simple family gathering (well, with a large family that is never really simple) was overwhelming and I needed a quiet place to run away to throughout the event. Attending church, work meetings, or any time I needed to sit quietly and listen became impossible. I had to bring lap size crochet projects to keep my hands busy just so I could listen and participate. If I didn’t, Ann would invite Nick to play and I’d have to leave.
Panic is something that not everybody has to deal with. Most people assume that if the anxiety is bad it must be a panic attack. This is not true. An anxiety attack will cause chest pains, headaches, shaking, confusion and an elevated heart rate. This is NOT a panic attack. A panic attack is an anxiety attack multiplied by ten. Then you add in arrhythmia, the inability to breath and the overwhelming need to peel off your skin and run down the street screaming at the top of your lungs.
This is why panic is a boy. He is as loud, obnoxious and energetic as a 5-year-old boy. Most times I can hear Nick coming and make the necessary preparations. Sometimes he does manage to sneak up on me in his attempt to give me a heart attack. Nick is the child nobody wants to play with.
When Nick comes to play with Ann I am toast. I cannot function except in the most basic activities and only on autopilot. While Ann would often respond to meditation, soothing activities and music, Nick did not. The only thing I could do when Nick got out of control was to knock him out. Clonazepam was great for this. It reacted in my system like alcohol so it made me drunk. Apparently, according to my family, I am an hysterically funny drunk. It also put me out for 12 hours or more. Unfortunately, I also “enjoyed” the hangover that goes with being drunk off your butt. Boy was that a fun thing to explain to my bishop when I showed up to church with a killer hangover. I don’t drink!
The 20 Car Pile Up
This is the crash that comes in the aftermath of the twins running rampant. I really did feel like I’d been run over (several times) by an 18-wheeler. My body ached. My head threatened to explode. I was so physically, emotionally and mentally drained I could barely pick my head up. I would spend quite a bit of time staring at nothing and wishing that I could get off this merry-go-round. I often wondered if it was worth living through rampaging dragons and a pair of obnoxious twins.
The Zombie Apocalypse is Now
Functioning wasn’t optional. It was required. I had children who needed to get up, get dressed, have breakfast, get backpacks and homework checked and off to school. I had babies at home who needed Mom to be up and moving. I was working and had to be there. I was going to college and had assignments due. Every morning I got up, got dressed, went through my rigid routines and zombied my way through life.
Are there real zombies in this world? Yes. I was one of them.
Duct Tape Doesn’t Always Work
I was on quite a bit of medication, but it was more like using duct tape to fix a leaky pipe. It worked, for the most part, though it didn’t actually fix the problem. Finding the right medication is like doing chemical experiments with your brain. Luckily we were able to find the right cocktail for me rather quickly. It was great. I started feeling better, mostly. I had more energy, sometimes. I could handle life again, sort of.
When Eleviv came into my life I had been on medication for over 15 years. I was relatively as stable as a two-legged stool. I had just about resigned myself to surviving life and had almost given up on actually living life. I had stopped believing that anything could make my brain and body work anywhere close to normal. I am grateful that God had other ideas.
I Believe In Miracles
As I said in my last post, sleep became a possibility again when I started the Eleviv. What happened next amazed even my doctors. Within three weeks the twins began to calm down. The first thing I noticed was that Nick wasn’t coming to play everyday. In fact, he wasn’t coming to play with Ann at all. Then I realized that Ann was no longer standing on my last nerve. I was actually having moments of calm. Within six weeks I was completely off my clonazepam. I still have anxiety, but Ann no longer runs my life.
I still struggle to balance my stress levels and living life. That will never change. I now have a life filled with laughter and peace and NOT a life plagued with those rampaging twins and the mental and emotional chaos they brought with them. Can I prove it’s the Eleviv? Yes. I have gone off it a few times for one reason or another, but the twins come running back within a day. It has made such a profound difference that my mother had threatened my life if I go off it again. Friends and family have made sure I had Eleviv when I could not afford it.
Do you know the most important thing I have discovered? Me.