I want to share a story with you.
I’m not sharing it because I want your sympathy or your attention. I am going to be okay because this time I know how to ask for help. This time I know that it is okay not to be okay.
I want to share this story because it might just help somebody, or somebody you know. Who knows, it may even help you.
I have been aware of it building again over the past few weeks…slowly, but surely. The tight chest, the feeling that I can’t quite get enough air into my lungs, the tingling at the tips of my fingers…and then the all-consuming inexplicable panic.
I’ve been shouting at the kids. I’ve been irritable and stressed and impatient…and I hate that. It makes me feel guilty. Guilty for barking at the kids, guilty for not being the mother I want to be, and guilty that I am finding this all so hard. Guilt is such a soul-sapping waste of energy and emotions.
Yesterday, on my way to drive the children to a play centre I felt it creeping over me again. The familiar and intense feeling of overwhelm. I felt heavy, my hands stiff on the wheel, my body wound up tight like a coil ready to spring.
Breathe, I told myself. Relax. You are fine.
Granny chatted away happily next to me. I answered in monosyllables. It was taking every inch of my will power to concentrate, to keep it together, to fight off that feeling of panic churning in my stomach.
It was exhausting.
It was isolating.
My head swam and I felt the adrenalin shoot through my core. Once again the anxiety had taken hold..
It was time I asked for help.
I pulled the car over and let it all flood out.
I told my husband’s Grandmother, a woman that I love and trust, that the anxiety is back. I closed my eyes and tried to will my body back to calm and she held my hand and listened and I felt better. So much better.
I told my husband that I have been having panic attacks again and with no apparent trigger. He held me close and wiped my tears and told me that it would be okay. I don’t have to do this alone. He understands, he supports me.
I have made an appointment with my doctor for today, and I will tell him everything.
With family support, counseling, self care and maybe some medication– I will be okay. Hell, I will be better than okay. I will be me again.
This time I know that there is no shame in needing help.
It is okay to reach out to my family and friends and say that I am not coping. I am not supermum, no one is. No one needs to be.
Thursday 13th September is R U OK Day – a national day of action aimed at encouraging people to connect with one another and ask ‘Are you okay?’