‘Expectation is the root of all heartache.’ Shakespeare

I’m starting a program tomorrow at my local hospital

It’s teaches coping skills for people with anxiety and depression

It is half days on Tuesdays and Fridays for 12 weeks, with a minimum of 5 Thursdays

It is a group format, run by a Social Worker, Registered Nurse and Occupational Therapist and overseen by a Psychiatrist

I’ll have a primary worker and access to the Psychiatrist during the program

At first, I was really intrigued and almost hopeful

Until I went for the info session

It was a few weeks ago

It was run by the OT who was jet lagged and seemed like she hadn’t a clue in the world of what she was talking about

I felt some of my balloon of almost hope deflate

I then went for an assessment last week with the RN, who sat impassively while I cried as she asked questions from her computer

I felt foolish and disappointed when I found out she would become my primary worker

I was accepted into the program and given a start date

Tuesday March 26

Tomorrow

I’ve promised myself that I will give it an honest open-minded try

After all, everyone has bad days and all that

And it would be reckless to throw away an OHIP covered 12 week program off of two measly meetings

Right?

Tomorrow, I’ll be there at 8:45 AM to start my first day

So maybe my balloon of almost hope won’t inflate

But maybe my ballon won’t pop either

And maybe

For right now, that’s good enough

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‘And if you look at your reflection…is that all you want it to be? What if you could look right through the cracks? Would you find yourself afraid to see?’ nine inch nails

My greatest fear is similar to that of being forgotten

But it’s more about living with the knowledge that when I’m gone, I’ll be forgotten

Maybe that’s why, when I was younger, carving things like ‘Angela was here’ on desks, felt like such a necessity

This great fear of mine

It’s not that I won’t exist

It’s the that I will have left no discernible mark on this world

Other than my carbon footprints

I wonder if that’s the reason people have children…

To ensure a piece of them lives on

It’s like a taste of immortality

I’ve got no delusions of grandeur

I won’t have discovered some new disease or uncovered some brilliant theory that will propel my name forward

There’s no legacy to leave behind

One day…

Who knows when?

My life will end

And that will just sorta be the gist of it…

Seems anticlimactic after everything, doesn’t it?

It’s the thought of having endured so much and then one day, it’s just *poof* over

And there’s nothing to show for it

It seems like such a waste of time

Time wasted throughout a lifetime

Time eaten up by anxiety and panic attacks and Optic Neuritis and depression

Time that I can never get back

There’s nothing more fear inducing than running out of time

On a test, in a race

Needing more time

But looking up at that damn clock

And seeing the seconds tick tick tick

It’s like Tyler Durden says in Fight Club:

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time’

That realization is supposed to motivate you

To change

To live fully

But what if all it does, is leave you paralyzed in fear?

What if it just haunts you?

Always reminding you

That time is slipping away

And you haven’t done what you were supposed to?

What you were meant to do?

What if it just reminds you that what you had, you simply wasted?

I hate the idea of leaving behind a gravestone with my name

And yet I am even more terrified of the possibility, in which that might be the only mark I’ve left on this earth

The Only Way Out Is Through

It’s been something like two and a half weeks since I lost my mind
Countless days and nights that I haven’t felt like myself
That my skin hasn’t felt like my own
Two and a half weeks since I went to two different emergency rooms
Two and a half weeks since I spent the night at a crisis centre
Two and a half weeks since I first lost my appetite
Two and a half weeks since I first started having irrational and obsessive thoughts on top of multiple panic attacks per day
Two and a half weeks since I became scared to be alone
Scared in my own home
Scared of my own mind
It’s been a week and a day since I came to stay with my parents
It’s been a week and a day and I’ve only been comfortable being left alone once for a short period
It’s been a week and a half since I told my neuro psychiatrist what I was experiencing
It’s been a week and a half since I went back to my old full dose of Paxil
It’s been a week and a half of 3-4 Ativan per day
It’s been a week and a half of nausea, grogginess, headaches, crying fits and having my appetite return
It’s been a week and a day since I haven’t went to bed in my own home
Where I haven’t seen Joey either right before bed or as soon as I wake in the morning
A week and a day since I last napped with my dogs
4 days until I call my neuro psychiatrist to let him know how I’m doing
5 days until I start paying for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Unknown days until I return home
Unknown days until I don’t wake up afraid of a day filled with panic attacks
Unknown days until I don’t fall asleep fearing another day of panic attacks
Zero days that I haven’t wished for a different life
Zero days that I felt like I had the strength, courage and determination to get through this
Today though…is a special day
It’s the day where I wrote
Today is the day that I got my voice back


‘At Times, Our Own Light Goes Out And Is Rekindled By A Spark From Another Person.’ Albert Schweitzer

Dear David (from Gerstein Crisis Centre)

It’s taken me four days to finally be able to compose this letter.

Not because I didn’t care to but because I became too emotional whenever I thought about your kindness towards me during my short stay at Gerstein.

You were the first person during my ordeal who did not see someone who was ‘weak’ and ‘needy’ but instead you saw someone who was tired of fighting so hard.

Someone who just needed a safe place to land.

You gave me that.

From the very minute I stood in front of the office doors as a crying hot mess, until we had talked long enough for me to enter a sleep-like.

state.

You threw me a lifeline.

You listened.

You talked.

You joked.

You laughed.

You related.

You made me feel heard and understood, and there are not simply enough words in the English language to convey my complete gratitude towards you for that.

So from one panic attack sufferer to another…

In words I know you’ll understand best.

I’ll just say:

I’d lay down in the snow with you, until your panic attack passes. 😊

Forever grateful,

Angela

PS if anyone knows him or how to get in touch with him let me know

‘That Which Does Not Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger.’ Nietzsche

Mornings and late late nights are my worst

So far, I’ve made it through 7 mornings and 6 late late nights

Though it felt more like months of both

My body is tired

From ingesting little more than diabetic meal replacement drinks

And the occasional PB and J sandwich

I never thought it could get so bad

Correction

I never thought it would get this bad, again

Although it feels new to me

In many ways I’ve done this before

From calling crisis centres to emerge visits and drinking meal replacers and med changes

I guess I should say

I hoped it would never get this bad again

I know the old adage of ‘that which does not kill us, makes us stronger’

But I think I’d be fine not being tested for the millionth time on my strength

I think I’d prefer something like

‘You’ve been through the worst, it’s all sunshine and meadows ahead’

Shit

I’d even settle for something like

‘Way to go Angela!

It’s all overcast and fields of manure with the occasional sun shower ahead.

Yeah

I could settle for that

‘A person with panic disorder may experience symptoms such as severe feelings of terror, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate. People with panic disorder may experience these attacks unexpectedly and for no apparent reason.’

One week

That feels more like a year

One week

That will go down as the worst in my life

I’ve lost count of how many nights I’ve woken Joey during the night in a sheer panic

Two emergency rooms

Two emerge doctors whose kindness I won’t soon forget

A private inpatient facility

A crisis line

Two triage nurses

Anyone who would listen

Even the ones that didn’t

Two psychiatric nurses

One psychiatrist who cared more about ‘stepping on the toes’ of my neuro psychiatrists than helping me through a crisis

One night at a crisis centre

One night where I never thought I could ever end up

One staff member who was my lifeline

One 37 year old who needed her mom to get through the night

One nine hour wait in an emergency waiting room

One road trip to Collingwood

Another half hour wait in an emergency waiting room

Countless nurses and doctors who looked right through me

As long as I didn’t kill myself

No skin off their backs

One prescription for Diazepam to get me through another scary night

Several messages and emails left for my neuro psychiatrist and to my family doctor and to anyone else I could think of

Two more days until I get to see my neuro psychiatrist

Thousands of hugs and kisses and words of encouragement from Joey and my mom

Countless messages of support from my friends, family and Facebook peers

One persevering warrior

Who is trying her absolute fucking best

To not give up

One day and night

Where the first and last thoughts aren’t about panic attacks

Would be nice too…

‘There Are Moments That Mark Your Life. Moments When You Realize Nothing Will Ever Be The Same. And Time Is Divided Into Two Parts – Before This and After This.’ Nicholas Kazan (Fallen)

I had an a-ha moment today in my support group. We were on the first step which is:
1. We admitted to ourselves that we are powerless over our disease. That our lives had become unmanageable.
I got to go last…which meant I got to listen to 3 MS veterans. All having been diagnosed more than 15 years ago.
One spoke of feeling comfortable in being alone on Xmas day.
Someone else spoke of being okay with their sometimes self-imposed isolation. Another spoke of being aware of their limitations, without being self-deprecating.
I sat back and listened.
One in a wheelchair.
One in a scooter.
One with cognitive symptoms.
And I felt envious.
Of them.
Me,with my mostly mobile body.
Me, with my mostly cognitive functioning brain.
I felt jealous of each of them.
I felt jealous of the comfort and grace each of them had come to possess upon accepting their illness.
I sat there and reflected over the last 6 years since diagnosis.
The ups and so so many downs.
The relapses.
The symptoms.
The steroids.
Treatments.
Injections.
Sleepless nights.
Crying fits.
Raging fits.
Anxiety.
So much fucking anxiety.
All of it, having led me to this moment.
Waiting for my turn to talk in a 12 step support group.
Their eyes looked to me.
My turn.
I looked around the table.
Less than a year ago, they were nothing more than three strangers. People I would have passed on the street, without a second glance.
Now we share this inexplicable bond.
This illness we all have.
Referred to often as the ‘snowflake’ disease, since symptoms vary so much from person to person.
These three people who now know more about my feelings and thoughts than most of the people in my more immediate circle. These strangers not so different from this lifelong outsider, after all.
I told them I thought that I had accepted having MS.
6 years ago. I heard the words coming out of my Doctor’s mouth and thought to myself ‘okay….so now I have MS.’
I thought that was enough.
I thought that meant I had accepted it.
But it wasn’t until that very minute that I realized, I would never be able to accept MS, until I had also accepted the negative impact its had on my life.
That meant accepting the change in my job status.
The permanent damage to my eyes.
The toll all of it has taken on my already fragile mental state.
Taking all of that in…and still being able to say that while I won’t succumb to it, I have come to terms with having MS in my life. That I’m OKAY with it.
I’m not there…
Not even close.
But I found hope in looking around me.
Which for someone as chronically hopeless as myself, is a fucking lifeline.