The B Side of my Life

It’s funny how my last post, and this post will seem so different. When I read back my last post, I feel like someone completely in control. In this one, I will be someone totally out of control. Both are my truths. In the days of social media perfection, and social media ‘planned imperfection’, I’m just here to remind you (and future me), that reality is so messy, and not always fun. But…it is what it is. How you recover, is who you actually are.

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, we’ve made the choice to, essentially, ‘shelter in place’ for just over two weeks now. Our lives/jobs are flexible enough to allow that–and, with my partner having a compromised immune system and us both having parents who need us, we are taking what Gov. Waltz says seriously. (Plus, we’re kind of weird, and almost feel like we’ve been prepping for this for years?) Anyway, during the day, I’ve been taking it all in stride and enjoying it all for what it is. I’m here with the boys, I’m here for my teen–I’m doing my best, and so far there are no major complaints. In fact, I dare say we’re having a pretty okay time. (Except that night my kids dad decided to cut flip the fuse to the outlet he was replacing…it also happened to be the one that controlled the router. Yikes. No wi-fi for a bit sucked.) My nights though? Well, apparently my brain had something else in store for me.

If you know me semi-well, you may know that I suffer from bouts of insomnia, and I have extremely vivid dreams. (And, if you know me more than semi-well, and you don’t know this…it’s just because I’m sick of talking about it.) I mean…smells, colors, emotions, minor details–it’s ALL there in my dreams. I am so hardened off to them, that they have to be EXTREME to terrify me. (I always use the example of the dream where I was stuck in a plane that was crashing and I felt my limbs pop off as we were going down. I woke up from that, sat up in bed…and then decided I was hungry. I went to the kitchen, grabbed my graham crackers and milk, read my cook book, and went back to bed.) I have long dealt with anxiety, and my dreams have become a way for my mind to make sense of all of that, in a way? It’s sort of a weird, symbiotic, relationship between my waking, and sleeping self, that I have just come to accept.

So, with that in the background of your mind–Monday morning had me shook. Shook. This past weekend had been rough for me. My changing schedule became real, and the lack of ‘adult’ time had become serious. (Saturday was usually my go into work day. Then, I would hit the coffee shop, grab my black coffee, and get my images organized. Next, I would go grab something from Culvers, and hit a thrift store, or ten, along the way home. Plus, I would run any errands that needed to be ran, and/or meet with friends. It was my time…and only my time. It wasn’t all like that every week…but, at least two times a month, those were my few hours of ‘me’ time.) Before Saturday, I had been feeling a bit under the weather. My throat was sore. I would randomly cough. My sinuses were radiating pain throughout my head. Literally, the same things that happen to me every time my allergies kick in–no big deal. Except, it is a big deal when there is a pandemic out there, and you struggle with anxiety, and the symptoms are similar. During the day…well, during the day, I’m logical. It’s easy to be realistic at 4pm. At 4am,  with a dreaming mind like mine–no. It’s actually impossible to be logical then.

Monday morning, 3:56 am, is when I woke up coughing. My heart was racing–I could feel it all the way throughout my body. I was sweating. My chest hurt. I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt light-headed. The pain in my chest was out-of-control. My thoughts were racing.  I was sure that the dream I had just witnessed was real. I had just seen me taking my 103 degree temperature. I had just seen the look in my husbands eyes, as I stood in our kitchen crying, and as he told me his throat was just starting to hurt. I had just felt the panic that I couldn’t take care of him–and that his asthma would make this even more deadly for him. That was the moment I woke up, 3:56 am. I woke up with every COVID19 symptom I had been having in my dream. In reality, I actually woke up in a full panic attack. I hadn’t had a panic attack like this since I was in my early 20’s–but, in my sleepy mind, I didn’t know what was actually happening. Was I really sick? Did I have the Corona virus? Was it ‘just’ a panic attack?  Was is all in my mind? I ran down the hallway to take my temperature–only to discover I was totally okay. I went back to bed, shaking, and unable to control my breathing. I laid there trying to make sense of it all, and trying to find my logic. I played the mindless cat game on my phone–and, 4:56am was the last time I looked at the clock before dozing back of…peacefully.

5:25 am, I found myself narrowly escaping a dream where I was trying to tell my teenager all of the things she would NEED to know, in case her dad and I didn’t survive. All of the things she needed to know about strapping her brothers into their car seats, to how much food we had in the house, to what to do if we died. It was awful–and, needless to say, I woke up in another full-blown panic attack. (As I’m writing this–the pain in my chest is back. The tightness as I breath is creeping back in.)

I never did get back to sleep. I spent my Monday exhausted–and, with all the pain I had lingering in my chest, still wondering if I was actually sick. I worked out, I medicated, I spent time outside–the pain was gone completely through those things. Logically, I knew I wasn’t sick–but, my anxiety would still race my brain out of control. I medicated myself to help me sleep soundly into Tuesday, and it worked beautifully. When I woke up this morning, I was like a computer that had been restarted. There was no more pain. There were no more racing heartbeats and thoughts–all that was left was me. My logical thought, my sense of direction, my passion, my love, and my creativity. It was through all of that that I felt the clarity to write these words.

On Monday, I felt so defeated, and so down. I had to remember that we are living in times that we have never known before. I had to give myself grace. I thanked the Lord that he heard me, as I couldn’t breath the day before–nor form a straight thought. I drank the extra coffee. I spent the extra time outside. I let my kids enjoy that extra hour of screen time. I gave up the dream of the space lessons I had ready to go. (Hell, we actually lost Pluto, anyway. Long story.) I ordered dinner from the local pizza place, without completely freaking out about getting sick. I bought four, online, classes for myself–and, I have the goal of finishing at least one. 😉 And, I am writing freely…something that frees my brain from the mess it holds.

Anyway, to wrap this all up, and bring it back to how I began –life can seem so pretty when that’s all we show it as, in photos–but, in the dark of the night, and even in the bright of the day–the reality can be so different. It’s all about what we talk about–and, how we talk about it. And, it’s all in how we stand up, brush ourselves off, and walk on when it’s time. I never want sympathy, or advice–and, honestly, that holds me back from writing about things like this often. (Because the internet is FULL of unsolicited ‘advice’. I definitely do not want sympathy–all that says to me is that you feel bad about part of who I am, and you are sorry about that side of me. I don’t apologize to you, Karen, about your nose. Don’t apologize to me because of my anxiety. And, advice? Well, that’s what my doctor is for, tyvm. Kind comments, a story about your own life, or just a quick virtual hug are wonderful though.) 

I hope you are well in these trying times. I hope that you are feeling healthy, and content, and mentally together. And, if you are not–I hope that you will figure out how to tape some pieces back together for a bit, just until things are back to ‘normal’ and you can work to fully find yourself again. Give yourself grace.

My rough weekend was brightened up with these hydrangea’s, a bottle of wine, and the ability to sleep in on Sunday. My husband did those things for me–and, they helped change the game. They weren’t huge things–but, they made me feel huge again.


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