Monday, January 28, 2008

Wonderful Counselor

Not surprisingly, I’m tired of writing about sickness (although not as tired as you are of reading about it, I’m sure.) Justin is better—he went to work today. But Mr. Blue can’t shake the bug yet: he’s still vomiting. It’s down to once a day now, which the nurse said was normal—little ones often do this for a week or more—but that means I can’t take him anywhere he could give this wonderful gift to others. So we’ll be mostly staying home for the next few days, after a week of being housebound. You can imagine my enthusiasm at this news. I’m ready to get back to the gym, to playgroup, to normality, to Target! Our version of normal may not be perfect, but I would like to order some now, please.

Yesterday I was feeling anxious, like panicky butterflies were flapping around in my chest, getting caught in my esophagus. I couldn’t identify a reason—Mr. Blue wasn’t even acting sick, Justin was getting better, so what was wrong with me? Since I’ve been on medication to treat the anxiety, it’s become an unfamiliar feeling, so I get alarmed when it shows back up. Plus I didn’t sleep well the night before, which is what happened before the Episode occurred, and oh God what if I can’t sleep tonight and what if I get that bad again, I can’t DO that again, what if….

You can see the problem. Any anxiety causes me to feel anxious about the anxiety, which increases my anxiety level and so on. It doesn’t take long for it to spiral out of control.

Except that I WAS able to talk myself down from the mental ledge last night by reminding myself that a certain amount of anxiety is normal (true); that of course I was worried about my baby boy (I hadn’t yet talked to the nurse). I also admitted to myself that I was feeling overworked, although it was nobody’s fault because Justin had been so very sick, sicker than I’d been, and in fact had passed out in the shower while I was trying to help him get out and if it doesn’t scare you to see all the color drain from your spouse’s face while his pupils are fixed and dilated, then I don’t know what will. And then there were the endless cups of Gatorade and every time I sat down, somebody handed me a book to read. Everybody needed Mom, even when Mom didn’t have anything to give. And that’s the exactly the place I was in when I got swallowed up by the Black Hole of Anxiety and Depression. Thinking about it, the physical sensation is a lot like claustrophobia—feeling smothered, hyperventilating, yelling “Let me out”—and all of that makes sense since what was being smothered was my sense of self.

Last night, I reminded myself that it was not going to get that bad again. The virus would eventually loose its evil grip on my family. And until that day arrived, I had drugs to help me cope. Drugs my doctor gave me to get through times just like this.

So I took a pill last night to help me calm down enough to sleep, and Mr. Blue didn’t wake up until 6:30. Which was a little earlier than usual, but no sheet-changing was involved, so no complaints.

It’s not all about my medication, though. I do believe I am on the appropriate medicine for my condition. If I hadn’t been on these meds, I wouldn’t have been able to reason with myself at all. I would have just headed straight to Freak-Out City—do not pass go, do not collect $200. But reason is not enough. I read a devotion titled “Wonderful Counselor” this morning, and it reminded me that Jesus is always with me, and that he can give me wisdom; and besides that, He’s the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace as well—everything we need, He’s got. So I put my head down on the desk and I asked Him to breathe some peace into me, help me to remember to breathe and stop choking on invisible butterflies, and to remember that it came to pass, as my dad says, not to stay.

And He did. Wonderful Counselor.

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