This is related to anxiety, and I know many mothers deal with it to some extent. I have lived with it most of my life. Here’s an example of what an anxiety attack with catastrophic thinking looks like for me.
I have a migraine. If I am stuck alone with the children, I sincerely do not know if I can keep them safe, change the baby, feed them when they’re hungry… I really don’t think I can take care of these kids today. But I can’t ask my husband to stay home from work because we need the money desperately, and he will think I’m just not trying hard enough because other people go to work with migraines, and he will leave me. He’ll take the children and the baby will be in day care. She’ll scream for me at night.
And that’s as vulnerable as I can manage right now. There you have it folks, and when this is happening in my brain it does not sound ridiculous, it sounds totally credible and awful. After an attack I regain perspective, but during it feels like drowning.
Let me overshare with you a little bit. I think that word, overshare, is overused, by the way. This whole entry will probably be kind of disjointed, but lately, so am I. I now “get” the menopause fog, the “senior moments,” and let me tell you, if I wasn’t expecting this, didn’t know what was happening to me, I would think I was losing my very few remaining marbles. This is unpleasant. It’s like my ADD and “mom brain” had this mega bastard child, and then put it on speed. When they hit, my thoughts swirl. I can’t focus on anything, can’t make sense of anything, can’t put together a coherent thought. If one of these just hit me in my late forties or early fifties out of the blue, I would think I was stroking out. It’s disorienting, to say the least. They give me a mild feeling of panic, which makes my heart race and I sweat a little. Fortunately I am not having very many of these, and since I understand what’s happening they are not as terrifying as they otherwise would be. I’m not having very many hot flashes, although I do get regular night sweats. Zero symptoms of hormone withdrawal, for which I am SO grateful. My pain is getting a little more manageable each day, and my mobility is slowly returning. Overall, I feel better than I did pre-op. I’m able to spend a good chunk of the day with my children now. The incisions are healing nicely, no signs of infection. My appetite is slowly returning. I am having some mood swings, but they don’t feel much worse than just regular PMS. You’d have to ask my husband to get a more objective picture of those, though. So, over all, things are going well, although of course I’m ready to just be done and healed and get on with life already. Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated.
The surgery went well. It took three times longer than expected because they had more material to remove and clean out than originally anticipated, but it’s over now. Pain is mostly under control. All is going alright. I will post a more substantial entry as soon as possible. Thank you all for your prayers.
Calmly. I saw what you did.
“I know. I’m sorry.” I’m dead inside. Please, punish me. Just let it happen.
“Sorry does not even BEGIN to cover it! Do you KNOW what you’ve DONE?! All the work, all the progress, you’ve UN-done?! JUST so YOU could feel GOOD for a minute?! Well how does it feel NOW, wretch?! Failure! UNWORTHY! YOU’LL NEVER BE WORTH ANYTHING!”
“I know. I’m sorry.” It’s all true.
“No. Sorry doesn’t fix this. I don’t even know if you CAN fix this, you filthy burdensome rodent!”
BUT I. CAN. I. AM. BIGGER. YOU CAN TRUST IN ME. THERE’S NOTHING I CAN’T FIX!
A seed of hope…
“Don’t listen to Him. He’s nothing. He doesn’t care about you. NO ONE cares about you, and they never will! How COULD they when you’re so bad and disgusting?! YOU don’t even care for you, and why would you? Why should you? You don’t matter anyway.”
It stings. It’s true. But Hope. Hope. I can still hear His whisper. Hope. Can I trust Him? I don’t believe everything He says, but I know it’s true. I know it’s true. But I don’t believe it.
FATHER, FORGIVE ME!
And light. Blessed, blessed silence. Freedom. Cautious hope. Light. She’s gone, and I am free. For now.
I closed my eyes and started to drift away. But something inside of me, a male voice, not my own like before, said GET UP. My body shook. I pried my eyelids open, but most of my field of vision remained black. There was a small opening in the center, but it was dark and blurry and kept fading in and out. TIME TO GO GET HELP, the voice thundered softly. I tried to sit up, “OH,” my whole body groaned. I managed to stand and feel my way down the hall, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, feeling like I would topple over each time I lifted a foot. It felt like something outside of me propelled me forward, down the hall, supporting me because I had no energy. I still didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either. I didn’t want anything; emotions ceased to exist. I barely existed. I was compelled to do as I was told, and I was too tired and weak to resist. So into the stairwell we went, my angel or maybe even the hand of God himself and what was left of me. I should have fallen down the stairs, but I didn’t.
Somehow I stumbled into the lobby. “Hey, you don’t look so good. Is everything OK? …OK? …OK?” I tried to form a coherent thought, and words tumbled out. “Um, yeah, I think… I OD’ed on the painkillers… for my shoulder…” “OK, well let’s get you to the hospital, we’ll get you taken care of.” I don’t remember anything after that, until I was lying on a hospital bed. Nurses were strapping my arms down. “We’re going to put a tube down your throat to pump your stomach, and your body’s natural reaction is to try and pull the tube out. It will feel like you’re choking, but you’re not. It’s OK. We’re going to take care of you. Here’s some numbing spray. Now swallow.” I gagged as the tube went down. As the procedure began, the nurses’ faces changed. I heard a man say “Looooot of pill fragments there…” The room went silent, except for the sound of the various hospital machines, as more and more came up through the tube. It seemed to take a long time. I remember the feeling of my stomach walls touching. And then, I fell into a deep sleep.