Six months ago, (represented in the picture above) it began. Innocent enough, I suppose. I started getting randomly dizzy and lightheaded.
I chalked it up to my shoulder/neck pain that appeared one fine autumn afternoon in mid-November.
Then, right before my least favorite month ran it's course, the incident occurred. On January 30th of this year, I had my first bonafide panic attack in our local Michael's craft store with all five of my little ones as witnesses.
I didn't know at the time that it was a panic attack. I had never had one before. I didn't know that one's heart could spiral so far out of control without willing it so. Without completely recalling the incident detail for detail, let's just say that I came home from that four days later and I was completely wrecked.
And up until a few days ago, I thought I was just in a downward spiral towards a life ridden by anxiety and PTSD. Oh, with a brand new heart diagnosis. Which, I might add, is what I believed landed me in the hospital in the first place. Come to find out, that wasn't exactly the case.
So now, almost four months later, I am faced with a somewhat "unofficially" diagnosed thyroid issue.
This diagnosis that I am waiting for this week, has completely stolen every bit of what I knew of myself.
As my husband, (oh, my sweet, sweet husband, I will spare you just how wonderful that man is) played music tonight for the children to dance to he asked me what song Emma would like to hear. Our nine month old absolutely adores music and dance and she always "sings" along to songs she recognizes. While he played the song that I hadn't played in literally two months or more, I saw her face light up like a firework. She remembered the song and began her adorable little baby dance.
I started to tear up. Then I proceeded to semi-ugly cry. You see, I used to be a really fun mommy. We used to have nightly dance parties after supper and would read stories and have snuggles and laughs afterward. And I realized, tonight, that I haven't done that in months. I have no energy.
"Mommy, you dance!" little four year old Avery shouted tonight. I looked at her with wet eyes and said, "I would love to, but I don't have any energy right now."
Used to, I would toss them all into our van and we would just GO! The only thing stopping us would be a vehicle on "E". (I'm not a huge fan of going to the gas station). We would drive sometimes two hours to just explore a new place, a new museum, a new something. We would figure out logistics later. I never wanted my "outnumbered-ness" to keep me from experiencing new and exciting places with my children. But now, I equate a six minute drive behind our house to the nearest AWANA program as a grand accomplishment. What a change from what once was. I can't remember the last field trip I took them on.
This ailment has stolen so much from me. It's stolen my confidence. It's given me fear, anxiety, panic, and sheer dread of waking up every morning with nothing to look forward to except that I'm going to feel horrible. When I say horrible, I mean there are moments when I can barely catch my breath.
It's made me think, at first, that something awesome was finally working for me to lose all of this weight I've acquired as a mother. But as the weight came off a little too easily, I became a bit suspicious. And then when the weight kept falling off and I wasn't even trying anymore, that's when I got nervous. It's still coming off. I've lost three pounds this week alone. I am still eating normally...I don't want to lose anymore.
I've lost my joy. I've lost my faith. I've lost my hope. I've lost my sanity. And right when I thought I had a handle on my anxiety, I land in the ER last Tuesday unexpectedly. Set back. And then the past two days I've felt the worst I've ever felt in my entire life. Scared to be alone? That doesn't even touch what I feel. More like "terrified".
I don't know what God is trying to teach me or show me or reveal to me/us during this time. It's been such a long, trying season. One thing after another. We have five young children, blessed by God, but unable to enjoy them like I once did. I find myself wishing away baby days and toddler days and hoping that I can just manage one more day of motherhood.
"Just do this one day, Alicia. This one moment."
I've thought about myself more than I ever cared to. If you've ever suffered from anxiety, you know how it's near impossible to see past your struggle. I've been a lousy friend. I've disappointed my children because "mommy doesn't feel good again." I just want to be well. To not wish any of this precious time away because only today is here and tomorrow may never come.
I just want to feel like I'm alive again. I want to feel well. And most of all, I want to feel His perfect peace. I miss that.
Please, don't take anything else from me. And if you're feeling apologetic, please give me back everything you've stolen.