getting it over with
Let's get this over with:
I have a mental illness.
I've been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Let's also get this over with:
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - no kidding."
"Did you pay for that diagnosis, because I could've told you the same damn thing for an $11 plate of Applebee's nachos."
Yeah, I get it. Calling it a disorder doesn't make it any different, doesn't make ME any different. This "disorder" is me. It's how my brain works, how it's always worked. The fact that I anticipate disaster keeps me on my game. It's what gets my kids to school ten minutes early instead of ten minutes late, what gets my dance costumes shipped on time. Most of the time it's no big deal, most of the time it gets things done. Other times, well . . .
Three weeks ago was particularly bad. Three weeks ago I had an undiagnosed ear infection. I did not even know that what happened to me was even possible, didn't even know it was a thing. But I can say that it was unequivocally the most terrifying event of my entire life.
Apparently, my over sensitive nervous system (also an issue) could not handle the trace amount of extra fluid in my skull. Apparently, I was also suffering a bit of adrenal fatigue (didn't know that was a thing either). Apparently it was the perfect storm, because this is what happened:
I could not formulate sentences. I forgot words - easy ones like "mug" and turnover" My eyes could not focus on words to read a picture book, it was like I suddenly needed bifocals, and no matter how much I squint or pulled the book away, I couldn't read the words. Even if I could, I could focus long enough to make sense of them. I lost hearing in one ear. I couldn't eat. I was afraid of forgetting my own address though I could remember the 15 others I'd lived at since I was 3 years old. My temperature dropped. I was sweating constantly. My blood pressure dropped from a fairly consistent 117 to 93. I did not sleep for 4 days.
I thought I had instant onset Alzheimer's.
Really I did.
I cried for two days straight and was afraid to pick my kid up from preschool because I wasn't sure I could find my way home.
The urgent care doctor prescribed, antibiotics, Ambien, and Prozac.
I took the first two, which blessedly worked.
As my hearing came back, the world started to settle a bit.
But I made an appointment with a mental health counselor anyway - which ended in me passing out on the floor of her office and a triage nurse coming to my rescue.
FML at the point.
After some testing she came back with something like this: "You are completely in the normal range for most things - even below the level of concern in all areas except anxiety, which is, well, nearly off the chart. The combination of that, the adrenaline depletion, which was likely caused by stress and the extra fluid in your skull was like a perfect storm. I don't think it will ever happen again, but regardless, let's do something about this anxiety and sleep."
Because this is the deal kids: I will occasionally flip my shit for no real reason other than my body and mind are overwhelmed with adrenaline, or crashing after an enormous rush of adrenaline. I can't help this, it's a physical sensation, it's what my body does. That feeling you get when you narrowly avoid a car accident, that's me 24/7. That is what my body feels like when the doorbell rings unexpectedly, when somebody drops a dish, when the dog barks at night - heart palpitations, ice in my veins, shortness of breath, and it can last for hours. Imagine opening your front door to a surprise party full of velociraptors - that's what happens any time I'm surprised (thanks Ellen Deneres - if you saw this, you know what I mean. I wasn't startled, I was running for my life). But know this - I will never flip my shit at you - that's not how it works. I will forget things, I will cry easily, I will not go out to eat with you, my body will hurt, I will sleep.
The way my body reacts feels terrible, and today we call it a mental disorder, but in 1000 B.C we called it "survival of the fittest." Back in the day, I would have lived longer than most people, simply because my instincts are sharper. Of course nobody lived past 40 in Java-man times, but I digress. All I know is three weeks ago, I could not lift my limbs, because I had depleted all of my adrenaline making a pot-pie or some damn thing. Twelve days ago I passed out because I had to rehash by ER visit.
Is this rational?
Do I know this is ridiculous?
Can I help it?
If I could, I damn straight wouldn't have been laying on the floor with a triage nurse being force-fed peanut butter crackers trying to remember my own address last Thursday.
So I will continue to figure out what this diagnosis means for me, for us, but in the meantime, I want my kids to know, that this is a rare occurrence for me, but it's real, it's a thing, and most important it's treatable. If it happens to you, it's OK. It is what it is. I am who I am. You are who you are. It's all good.