I can’t tell you the amount of times I have discussed my anxiety disorder. I have talked about it, in depth, to my friends, family, husband, Listen, Lucy followers and complete strangers. I have talked about it on stage in front of hundreds. I have talked about it at meetings and when I am with my support system. I have talked about it with therapists and doctors and I have even talked about it to random people I have met out and about. I have no problem telling anyone every single detail of my struggle.
The other day, I struggled in a way that I haven’t talked about. I fought off a panic attack for 7 hours. I fought, with every fiber of my being, to be in control. I was in an all-out war with myself and no one around me could see how horrible it was. As my muscles tightened up and my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it; as my hands sweat and started to shake and I felt light-headed and disoriented and terrified-- I was trapped, a prisoner of my own body. On top of that, I was in public and couldn’t leave. I had no choice but to fight it.
It was one of the worst days I have had in years. I choked back tears, took walks outside, did my breathing techniques and desperately went through every single coping technique I could think of… and I prayed--really hard. That desperate, terrified, lonely feeling is hard to describe. It is hard to explain how debilitating and hopeless it is. It hurts in your soul. Fighting a battle that no one else can see? It is a living, breathing nightmare.
When I finally got home for the night, I was exhausted and defeated. I couldn’t find the words to explain what the day had been for me. I was left with this horrible, looming feeling. I fought off the panic attack. I didn’t give in. I won. But why didn’t it feel like a victory? At that moment in time, I would have given up anything I could to no longer have to struggle like that-- anything.
Now, I am working my way out of it. I am giving myself time to heal. I am doing what I need to do and what I so often am telling other people to do in order to make your health a priority. What I am constantly wrestling with is that this struggle, this battle with my mental illness, is something I am going to have to fight over and over again in order to win.
It’s OK to wallow for a bit. It’s okay to feel like life sucks and ask, “Why is this the mountain I have to climb?” You don’t have to have it together all of the time. Cry. Punch a pillow. Take a nap. Pray. But then, you get yourself back up. You wipe the tears off of your face and you keep on, keeping on. You have shit to do.
We can move our mountains with our bare hands.