The Weight I Carry and the Shoulders I Lean On
This past weekend I had an anxiety attack, something that hasn't happened since November, the last time I fell into a serious depressive episode. I lay on the couch, sobbing, gasping for breath, feeling like I was unravelling from the inside out.
I was on my period, and that means something different for me than for other women. When I'm on my period my hormones swing wildly out of balance. Once I left my laundry in the dryer to long and it got wrinkly, and my response was to cry and scream and lash out. On my very first day of college, right before my first class, my cramps were so bad I had to run to the bathroom and throw up. Multiple times I've had to take sleeping pills because they were the only way I could get some relief from the pain and the stress. PMS is real, and for me it means that once a month I slip backward in terms of the progress I've made with my depression. This month was especially difficult.
My dad was supposed to go to Okeechobee Fest with me, but he cancelled at the last minute. During any other week I probably would have been able to handle that, but this week it pushed me over the edge. I ended up having that anxiety attack while my dad helplessly tried to help me breathe and calm down. My throat raw from screaming, I settled for clawing at my chest and pulling my hair. I think it was all my dad could do not to start crying himself.
After a while I could breathe again, and though I was still crying I had managed to stop screaming. A pile of used tissues formed beside me. I had pretty much decided that I wasn't going to go to Okeechobee. I couldn't do it alone, not with the severe social anxiety and loneliness I was feeling. I was upset that I would miss seeing bands that I loved, but I couldn't bring myself to go, and I hated myself for that. The hate came second to the exhaustion, though, and I fell asleep.
The next morning my mom called. My dad called her the night before, and they agreed that they didn't want me to miss the festival, but they didn't want me to go alone either. So my dad paid for a ticket for my mom. She would go to the festival with me, not that that was some big sacrifice for her, mind you. Her birthday was that weekend, and she was pretty stoked. Even so, I cried again that morning. Part of me felt guilty that my dad was spending this extra money and that my mom was stressing a little about getting things together last minute, but most of me felt so overwhelmed to have parents who look out for me like this.
I'm one of those incredibly lucky people who has a phenomenal relationship with my family. My parents are two of my best friends. My local family get together for dinners all the time. My extended family keep in touch, even though we're spread out from Boston to Miami. Without that support system, particularly from my parents, I don't know if I would still be here.
I ended up going to Okeechobee with my mom, and my brother met us there the second day. We had an amazing time, which I will elaborate on later this week. I still feel a little drained from both the physical exertions of the festival and the emotional ones of the days before, but I'm feeling a little more like myself again.
I don't know if I'll ever feel completely at peace. Depression and anxiety are tremendously difficult disorders to live with. I have plenty of good days now, but my life as a whole still feels like a struggle. As long as I have my family, though, I think I can keep fighting.