Day 4: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty






Day # 4 Question: The worst thing ever to happen to me…

Let me preface this by giving you an update on day number 2.  A Tootsie Roll is no longer the most valuable thing I’ve ever stolen.  I am ashamed to say that I am in the act of thievery as I type.  Our area’s main internet provider, of which I am a subscriber, is out in the tri-county area.  My next door neighbor must feel pretty smug right about now for chosing the number two provider in the area.  I’m also very grateful that he made that choice because I’m stealing his signal to post this.  Sorry, neighbor, I’m only borrowing it for a minute! 🙂

One might think from reading other posts on my blog that the two worst things to ever happen to me would be the untimely death of my mother and my youngest daughter’s diagnosis of type II bipolar disorder. As tragic and unpreventable as both of these events were, the most catastrophic part of their occurrence was what manifested in me after-the-fact. Anyone who knows anything about the human psyche knows that a tragic event renders many emotions, and those feelings, if left unchecked, can fester and turn into one, or many, psychological conditions. My unchecked emotion was fear. After my mother died, and I was left to navigate the world on my own, I became extremely fearful. I was afraid that my brother, who drove too fast, would die in a fiery car crash. If my boyfriend was delayed in traffic, I was terrified that he was dead in a ditch somewhere. If I developed a rash, or a cough or even a muscle spasm, I was certain that I was dying from the same awful disease that my mother died from. While I consciously realized that all of these fears were irrational, I couldn’t seem to control them. I had always been a very happy, fun-loving person, but now I was living a life of caution and worry.  The terrible thig was that I was living this life clandestinely, because the thing I feared the most was that someone else would find out just how afraid I was. So, I hid it; I didn’t talk to anyone about how miserable I was feeling. I was my normal, joking, silly, cynical self and no one knew that I was terrified of nearly everything. Soon my fear turned into anxiety, and before long it had festered into full-blown generalized anxiety disorder.

For 18 years I didn’t seek help. Anxiety was my dirty little secret; my flaw.  I went about my day, known by others as the person with a usually cheery disposition who could handle nearly any situation, but by night I was an angst-filled insomniac praying for a few hours of worry free sleep. The cycle seemed endless, and between worry, work and home it certainly didn’t seem like my existence could get anymore stressful than it already was.  That’s when life threw me another curveball. My beautiful youngest daughter began exhibiting signs of mental illness.   Because she was unable to function in a normal school setting, I had to stop working.  With the help of a homebound teacher I kept her as caught up as I could with her studies, in between dozens of doctor visits. The psychotic episode had damaged her brain.  Her short term memory was affected.  Her deep depression rendered her nearly catatonic and doctors urged me to hospitalize her.  I couldn’t bring myself to place her in a psych ward.  I had taught children much younger than her who had been hospitalized for psychiatric illesses.  I knew how violent some of them could be.  I couldn’t imagine placing my daughter in a facility where she might be further damaged.  I was her round-the-clock caregiver.  This was especially difficult because without family in the area, there was no one to give my husband and I a much needed break.   It wasn’t until a year later, that we found just the right doctor, the right diagnosis and the correct combination of medication.  On lithium my daughter soon returned to her sweet, healthy self , but I was still a wreck.  I watched her like a hawk, waiting for the slightest symptom to return.  After coming to the realization that myanxious behavior was hurting her, far more than helping her, I decided to seek help.  Talking to a counselor was very hard for me, at first, because I was so used to holding in any of my negative feelings and used to always presenting a positive exterior to others.   The funny thing is, that all it took was talking to a professional for a few months to quell the beast that had tortured me for so many years. Now, I talk and write about the things that bother me, and I’ve learned not to think in extremes.  I’m happy pretty much all of the time and feel very hopeful about the future.  So, to answer the question (and believe me, I am blogging with the utmost honesty); the worst thing to ever happen to me was being afraid for 18 long years and knowing that  while I was waiting for the worst to happen, I wasn’t using the time that I had on this Earth to live my life to it’s fullest potential.  Now, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!


9 thoughts on “Day 4: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. The last couple of months, I’ve found myself worrying–to what feels like an unhealthy degree-what I’d do with myself if anything were to happen to Li’l D. Agonizing scenarios constantly pop to made and fill me with terror.

    This is new as of my mother’s death. Sure, before that I’d found myself worried enough to peep into Li’l D’s bedroom several times a night, just in case. But it was to check on a very specific thing, not because I was imagining a hundred different horror scenarios.

    I try to talk myself down from these heights, but it’s rough. I feel wiped out and sad afterward, like, why can’t I just get over all this?

    Perhaps talking about this, even in comment on a blog post, is a good first start. I should probably consider talking to a professional who can help me move back toward the overwhelming joy of parenting, instead of focused on the overwhelming terror at the mere prospect of loss.

    • I just wrote a long message to you, pushed “post comment” and I lost internet connection again! Grrr!

      I think the feelings you are experiencing are rather common especially since it hasn’t been that long since you’ve lost your mom. After my mother died I didn’t talk to anyone about it.I didn’t even cry at her funeral. I’m of German ancestry and my family tends to be rather stoic when it comes to expressing emotions. This is not a good thing!! I should have let it all out long ago. I think it’s wonderful the way that you write about your mom, and do so many other things to honor her. I’ve come to realize that the best way to honor my mother is to live a life filled with happiness. It can never hurt to find someone to talk to. Check your paper for grief support groups or find a good counselor and I’m just a computer click away to talk to as well! 🙂

  2. Wow, so sorry to hear about the two worst things in your life. The best thing you can do for yourself is to recognize what your fears are and learn from it and move forward. It’s never to late to realize what you’ve been missing out on as a result of your fear. For me, my biggest fear for so many years was losing my mother. And when she died it was sudden, though for me she was already gone (Alzheimer’s). Still, it was like losing a limb, only worse. But after that, I found a new way to appreciate life and not let fears overtake me.

    • I so relate to what you’ve written here, Monica. My mom was lost to me via schizophrenia for several years before she passed away 14 months ago today. She was just starting to stabilize and let her kids back into her life when she was diagnosed with cancer.

      It was such a bitter blow, for as long as she lived, there was always the hope that we might yet see the powerful, vivacious, loving mom who’d raised us. We could also reasonably hope she might get to experience a gentler, calmer kind of life again.

      Every day, it’s easier for me to leave behind a little bit more of the darkness and just carry the light forward. But there’ll always be moments, I think, when I read or overhear the right thing, where I’ll stop breathing for a moment and remember just how horrible it was to say that slow goodbye. (Tho’ it cannot be separated from the joy of watching my mom hold and be comforted by her first grandson!)

    • I’m 100% better since I sought help. It took a lot of work to rewire my way of thinking, but now I’m a fairly laid back, very happy person. My daughter is just ending her sophomore year of college this week and is very healthy. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

  3. I started having bad trouble with thinking my mom was gonna die ever since I was 15. It began several months after my grandfather died and is only somewhat better 18 years later.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s natural that the loss of one loved one would make you feel worried about losing another. Writing and talking about things can make you feel so much better. 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

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