A Moment of Fear

Living life with a “mental illness” such as depression, anxiety, ptsd, or similar can feel like a death sentence some days.

I have been coping with the challenges of the above mentioned issues since a fairly young age. My first major bout of depression was when I was around 16, but most definitely the signs and symptoms were there in years previous.

Like most people, I assume, I go through peaks and valleys, sometimes the path even feels smooth and steady for a while. There are even days that go by where I feel well, peaceful in my mind, and as if it might all be behind me. Those days are so good. I cherish them. I treasure them beyond any amount of riches. Nothing, absolutely nothing can be as precious to me as being of sound mind, because without that, I am unable to enjoy and be a part of the lives of those I love, without that I am unable to function as I desire. It is a priceless “thing” that I cannot place enough value on, it is truly the grandest gift to be in a state of mental wellness.

Tonight, for a brief, but horrifying moment, I thought I had lost it. I thought I had lost that precious gift and it sent terror coursing through my veins. It happened as quick as a light switch being turned on. One moment I was perfectly fine, sitting at the dinner table and talking with my family, and in the next moment, my mind had spun into a place of complete fear, entering a completely different state of mind that I can only describe as overwhelming panic.

It happens like this for me, just that fast. I guess it would be an anxiety attack … that is usually brought on by thinking about or talking about topics that generate a lot of anxiety or fear for me. There have been times when I am not even thinking about anything fearful when it has happened though, and that makes it that much more scary, coming out of nowhere. This evening I was relaying the details of a nightmare, or series of nightmares, that I had last night. My daughter was curious about it and had asked me to tell her about it. I am afraid to go into it now, not wanting to trigger another attack… but it was a very frightening night of dreams for me last night. As I was in the midst of retelling what I could of my dreams to my family, I began to feel the intense fear and panic creep into my brain. It goes beyond the rapid heart rate, beyond the shortness of breath and strange nervous sensations, to a feeling in my head as if it is switching gears… and the fear and irrational thoughts start to feel as if they are taking over in my mind. My mind grabs on to the thought that I am losing my sanity and that I will be stuck in this panic state forever.  The panic that I feel seems to me to be as intense as if a train was coming straight for me, as if I was facing certain death. Although, I have to say, at that moment, death would sound soothing to me in comparison to living in that state of being.

I was able to calm down…I took some anti-anxiety medication that I am far too dependent on in a situation like this (although it has not  happened for months) and I engaged myself in a different activity. I began washing the dishes and talking about a different subject, to divert my attention. Within a few moments I felt more “myself” and a sense of relief came over me that the “attack” seemed to be over.

The most terrifying thought that I have in regards to having these kinds of “attacks” is that in that moment I am so frightened of living like that … so very frightened that I will lose my sanity and senses… that I fear one day it will be the death of me. I fear that if I continue to struggle with this later in life that I will be inclined (in an irrational state) to take my own life rather than to live in such fear.

I can’t explain to you how that shakes me, how that rocks me. Fear is my enemy and I am working diligently to conquer fear. But to have a surprise attack by the enemy certainly took me off guard tonight.

This is why we must continue to talk, to work towards ending stigma, to speak out about how difficult it is to live with mental health issues… so that people like me ( a seemingly “normal” person) do not have to live in fear of losing their sanity. We  must make it part of our responsibility to be there for others … young or old, rich or poor, to assure them that they will not be left all alone in their darkest hours.

Ultimately, that is my greatest fear, that no one will be there to hold my hand, to reassure me that it will all be okay when or if this happens again. I know I am not alone, as I know others who struggle with mental health issues, but if we don’t talk to each other, if we don’t share resources and hold out a hand for others to hold on to…then we will be all alone when we need a hand to hold.

It may be different for you, it may be a different ailment, but it is all the same in the end. If we do not take care of one another, if we do not share what we are experiencing and needing help with, then we will all end up alone. Don’t isolate. Reach out for another hand, and if they don’t return the gesture, keep reaching. Speak about the issues, speak about the struggle, speak about the fear and the pain. Help the world to understand. And by all means, let’s help each other.


3 thoughts on “A Moment of Fear

  1. To me, honesty is the stuff that helps heal. Honesty and love. When we love ourselves enough to be who we are, honestly, without compromise, that transparency draws those who truly love us closer to our heart.

    My first husband took his own life in 2001. We were no longer married when he passed away. We were 10 years divorced. Still, I grieved deeply for him beyond my own understanding. He didn’t love himself enough to be honest with anyone, including himself, concerning what he was going through. Had I known, I would have held his hand. I would never have judged him as harshly as he judged himself. He ultimately rendered himself a death sentence… alone.

    Love and honesty allows us to trust when the darkness comes. Honesty allows us to know that the hand that reaches for us in the darkness is trustworthy and loving — not a monster grabbing at us from underneath the bed.

    Understanding friends are a gift. Fear is our lying enemy. Some friends are a gift straight from the Master’s hand. We are His hands and feet. We help each other along this sometimes scary journey.

    “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2Tim 1:7).

    I understand the ruthlessness of fear, my friend. You’re exactly right. As difficult as it may be, we must honestly speak about our fear and pain, reaching out with and for helping hands. That’s the least we can do.

  2. I found you on Twitter through a follow friday request. I clicked over to check out your blog and found it to be amazing.

    You are a very brilliant writer. I have only had time to consider one post. However, what you said from the heart was touching.

    One thing is certain, we are blessed to at least live in a time where “talking” about taboo issues is not only encouraged, it’s acceptable and cathartic.

    I remember the first time in my life when I lost a friend to suicide. My Dad was a Sheriff and he came home and blurted out that my friend killed himself in his garage.

    Total shock and disbelief came over me. At the age of 14, I did not even know that people did that…take their own life. What a rude awakening. I had just been with him the day before & we went to school together.

    My husband and I evoke his name often. They were good friends, too. He was a beautiful, young man named David Baker. We still miss him.

    Back then (over 20 years ago) suicide was something you just did not talk about. We never knew there were warning signs and for a certainty…there was NO ONE to go to if life just became too hard to live.

    I sincerely admire your passionate efforts to, not only share your story, but to help others by reaching out to them.

    I look forward to reading the rest of your blog tomorrow. You should really get published…

    I have a friend who just moved to NYC to work at a shelter for abused, neglected, and unstable teens. I think what you have penned might give her tremendous insight into the anxiety attacks these young ones are having. You explain how you were feeling very well, even if you did not know why.

    Excuse any misspellings – no spellcheck on my phone. I just did not want to go to sleep without thanking you for your insight and your courage.

    Warm Regards,

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