That’s me in the corner

adult alone black and white dark

What if…

Those two words control my life… They keep me trapped inside my head for hours anticipating the worst.  I have a generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.  I go to war with my head and body every day.  Sometimes I win, Sometimes my head wins.  

As far back as I can remember I have always felt uncomfortable.  I could be in a safe place, such as my house and feel like there was a lion breathing on my back ready to attack me.  I am very aware of myself.  I am in tune with every feeling that goes on in my body, but ironically not aware of my emotions (I will get to that later).  So school is not easy for someone who has anxiety.  What I did know was I was different.  While I sat in class thinking about everything but what the teacher was saying, other kids enjoyed socializing and standing out.  I remember a boy talking to me and my face got so red I felt like my eyes were sweating. Plus I use to get a really great blotchy rash if I was nervous enough.  But let’s get out of the awkward school years and talk about how anxiety has controlled my life.

My first panic attack was at the age of 22.  It was literally a real-life nightmare.  My walls closed in on me, I could not breathe and reality seemed to collide with fantasy.  From that day on I lived my life in fear.  Fear of being out of control of my body.  Fear of fear.  I slowly cut out everything in my life that took me out of my comfort zone.  That included going to the store, going out to eat, working and pretty much anything that involved leaving my house.  It was like a switch was turned on that was never there before.  Yes, I was always anxious but this was different.  Now thoughts that once just passed by now gave my body a physical reaction.  They literally scared the shit out of me.  I would dwell on it for minutes, hours, days or even weeks.  If you don’t have anxiety an I tried to get you to understand the thoughts, it would be impossible.  You would think I need to live in a padded room. 

Do you know how hard it is to tell your body to not freak out and that things are ok?  My world starts to spin and any focus I did have is completely gone. Then the sweating sets in, stomachache, racing thoughts, dizziness and the sense of reality is gone. All while I pretend to be normal, take care of my children and pay for my stuff. Checking your groceries out should not be a hard task, right?  Self-checkout is my friend, most of the time.

Let’s talk about the car, shall we? The car is one of my biggest triggers. I am fine as long as I am alone and driving. If I am the passenger or have passengers it is a different story altogether.

Things I focus on if I have passengers:

Passing out, getting sick, having a panic attack, feeling so uncomfortable that I want to scream, not being able to see, getting in a car accident, getting lost and not being able to make it home. If I am a passenger I focus on every noise the car makes convinced that a tire is going to blow, if it’s raining we are going to hydroplane and die, snowing we are hitting black ice and dying and pretty much every sensation my body is doing to make sure I feel ok and I am not tense or ready to panic. Sometimes I burst into tears because I am scared and so overwhelmed by the tenseness I am causing myself. I like to be occupied or my thoughts get to me, hence why being a passenger is really hard for me.

Anxiety is the most frustrating thing in the world. It has robbed me of so much. Going places are a chore, not fun like they should be. I didn’t get to enjoy my last pregnancy due to anxiety robbing me of excitement and joy. If you asked me about my hospital stay, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about the baby. I could only tell you about myself and how I battled anxiety the entire time and needed to leave. Which we did after 24 hours. I didn’t get to feel the excitement of a new baby because I was so concerned with myself. I did not get to enjoy things again until I was out back on my meds, 6 weeks after my little one was born.

So I could sit here and feel sorry for myself (which I treat myself to every now an again) or I can manage my anxiety and try to help others that have or they are going thru it. Anxiety will never go away for me but it can be manageable with the right tools. I am not sure why I have been cursed with general anxiety and panic disorder but I know I have been in dark places with it before and know I will never have to go back there again.

“If I didn’t survive, I knew where I was going.”

sky sunset person silhouette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    The lowest point in my life came at the age of 23 after a casual date at Chipotle. The next night, I woke up sick, and proceeded to be sick for the next two days. Eventually I went to the doctor with a fever that wouldn’t break, developing pain, and passing only blood. They sent me to the emergency room with the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I spent the next 10 days in the hospital growing worse and worse, unsure if I would survive and talking with doctors about …having my intestines removed. I had been poisoned with e.coli.
    Through all that pain and uncertainty, I am lucky to say that I had close family to lean on. But ultimately it was my faith that got me through. My family couldn’t be there for every painful test, every scary moment, but God could. So I prayed my way through the pain, and was comforted knowing that if I didn’t survive, I knew where I was going.
    I ended up keeping my intestines, though I weighed just 92 pounds when I was discharged. I remained at home in recovery for 3 months after that. To this day I still deal with the aftermath of that meal! But I am alive and surrounded by a family that loves me. My boyfriend sat by my side that whole experience, and we realized that love shouldn’t wait- so we got engaged 3 weeks after my discharge. Now this week we celebrate being married for 2 years! So I learned that love and faith can get you..
…through anything life throws at you.

Meant for more

person sky silhouette night
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

 

            Did you ever feel like there was more to life?  More to what you are to be doing? How do people feel satisfied in routines? How do you know what the universe wants to do with you?  Everyday you are getting closer to your end.  So what so you do?  Listen.  Listen to what the voice inside you is saying.  Don’t think about what other people are going to think of you, live your happy life.  You don’t have to be complacent with your accomplishments.  Do more, strive to make yourself a better you.  Start easy.  Everyday look in the mirror and tell yourself what you are going to do, be and feel.  I have not figured out my purpose yet but I know I have one.  I know I am meant for big things.

           What is your definition of big things in life? What does that mean to you? Luxury cars, Mansions, Trips around the world and a bank account with more zeros then grains of sand on the beach? To me it means making a difference in someones life, being the best version of myself and living in my truth.  So many people live in their past.  They let the past define them.  They wear a Scarlet letter of being the victim.  When in this mindset it is impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel because the light is not even turned on.  When sabotaging your happiness you are robbing yourself and the others around you of joy.  Figure out what brings you joy and do it.  Figure out what makes your miserable and remove it.  Make your life beautiful!

Realization

           Everything happens for a reason right??? How do you see that reason? How can a person take away another life? How do you find comfort in knowing they are in a better place then you are?  How do you tell your brain that you will never see this person again??

             7:45 The phone rang. On the other side of the phone was my friend telling me her brother heard on the bus that our friend was in the hospital.   She had been stabbed by an ex boyfriend.  What??!! Are you kidding me? This is a joke, Right?  I called her phone, no answer.  Called her Mom, no answer. Called her Aunt and she told me that she had been taken down to Presby Hospital and was in surgery.  I knew I had to go.

               I honestly don’t remember the car ride down there. I actually block a lot of what happened out.  I remember standing in the waiting area and seeing a man I didn’t know covered in dry blood.  He was blank.  Later I came to know who he was and learned he held her until the ambulance came.  I will never forget the look on his face.  My friend had been in surgery all night.  I believe (if I am correct) she had been stabbed 9 times.  We all anxiously sat waiting to hear what was going on. Finally someone came out and told us that she was going to make it.  The mood instantly lifted, I could breathe again.   We all had such a huge sigh of relief.  Thank god!!!!  Then what literally seemed like seconds from them telling us that she was going to make it, someone came out to talk to her family.  She wasn’t going to make it, she had been stabbed in the heart and there was an infection that even a transplant would not help.  I left.  I got on the elevator looking to escape reality and headed outside.  I couldn’t breathe, I felt like the world was closing in on me, I was outside but felt as if I was being smothered.  I don’t like to be around people when I am dealing with something so I isolate myself and shut down.  When I was outside I called someone in my family, I can’t remember if it was my mom or my sister.  I was hysterical.  I have never felt that feeling in my life.  I remember looking around and feeling like the world slowed down, almost stopped.  Someone came out for me and took me back upstairs and told me that I needed to be surrounded by people.  I knew I could avoid what was happening on that floor forever, so I headed back.

          When I got upstairs there was now a new waiting area for us.   The room was smaller, more intimate.  It felt like they had sucked all the air out of the room.  I sat on a couch trying to process what was going on.  It was my turn to go back to the ICU and see her.  The doors opened slowly, it felt like a dream.  I turned the corner and there she was hooked up to machines.  She didn’t look like herself.  I don’t remember her face,  I just remember blood.  I truly don’t remember who was all around the bed.  I just remember her Mom begging for her life.  Everyone was saying their goodbyes to her, I remained silent.  I was stiff and could not bring myself to speak or touch her, I was barely able to breathe.  What sticks in my mind is her finger.  She always would bit her nails until there was barely a nail left.   I looked at her hand and her one finger had blood dried all around the fingernail.  I don’t know why that image sticks in my brain, I think because it was less graphic then everything else.

           The room is now filled with despair and people begging God to not take her away, then the sound of her flat lining drowns out everything. Just like that she was gone.  I don’t remember anything but walking out of the ICU doors and seeing her cousin, she asked us how she was and we told her she had just passed.  I went home, went into my room, sat on the ground and felt empty.  How was I suppose to just continue with my normal everyday activities.  I am just suppose to exist as if nothing has changed in my life when my entire world had just changed.

          The funeral was hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done.  I remember feeling guilty, angry, sad and every other emotion there was to feel.  What made this harder was to know that another person took it upon themselves to take a life.  When you are 19 you have no concept of what life really is.  You can’t grasp reality because you are young, carefree and invincible.  When you learn that life can be taken away in a violent way it changes you.  I have a feeling towards the person that took her life that is indescribable.  It is not hate, it is not rage, it is not a feeling I can’t describe.  It is gut wrenching.  He took away so much from so many people.  There was no one like her.  We went through so much together.  When reality hits, you realize you will never talk to them again and hear their reply.  You can only see them in your mind or in pictures, their voice fades, memories fade everything slowly goes away but the pain.  14 years later and the pain is still there like it was yesterday. People say you will heal and make peace with it, but how can I make peace when someone chose to take her out of this world?  I went to the trial, I could only go a few times because it was to much to handle.  I could not hear the way things were twisted or stand to look at the person who took her life.  He is not worthy of existing.

          So how did I learn to deal with this?? I drank a lot when it first happened and would find myself drunk and crying at 2 am.  Then I stopped drinking so I pushed it away.   I put it in a place where my brain only pulled it out when something reminded me of it. My family says that day changed me. It did, how could it not.  I started having panic attacks around the age of 22.  I became obsessed with being murdered or someone attacking me.  I went to therapy but never talked about what had happened.  See when you push something away and never deal with it, it finds its way back and will keep making appearances in your life.  I went to mediums in hopes of them telling me something I would want to hear, something that was suppose to make me feel at peace.  I still have dreams all the time about her.  Sometimes we are talking about how heaven is and sometimes I see her but can not get to her.  I feel her an I know she is around me.  Honestly it does not make it better.  I guess you just learn to live with a dark spot on your heart.  I can’t understand why things happen, no one can.  I believe everything happens for a reason but am still looking for that reason.

Brain surgery (story in original format)

My battle began at a very young age I was only 6 when the nightmare started. I can remember very thing like it was yesterday. I was at my grandparents visiting and playing with my cousins. My one cousin an I were playing like we were in the WWF. My body started shaking all of a sudden. I didn’t know what we was going on. My family called for an ambulance, but by the time they got there I stopped. They said I was fine and left it at that. Little did I know this was only the start of a life long battle.

      A few weeks after the  incident at my grandparents house it happened again. It was a few months after my mom got remarried. I had just asked her if I could get some ice cream. She said yes. I was in the freezer getting the ice cream, I started to feel weird. Like my left arm was all tingly but it wasn’t the sleep kind. I yelled for my mom and by the time she turned around I was on the floor shaking. I remember the panic in her voice as she told the 911 operator that her baby was having a stroke. After I was done shaking I couldn’t move my left side. I was taking to the hospital but we left with no answers.
      They  decided to put me on seizure meds. The first seizure Med they put me on what’s phenobarbital.  I ended up with softball sized hives because I was allergic to it. It took months for the hives to go away. All they did was switch medicine after medicine to see how I react to them. Needless to say I was allergic to most. I remember going to doctor after doctor to trying to get answers. No one had any answers or what was happening to me. I went to hospitals all over the country. I remember being at Cleveland Clinic with my mom and my grandfather and just walking out after doctor upset my mom.  The doctor told my mom I had nothing but a brain tumor. My mom knew better she pick me up and left.
      They got my seizures under control during the day so I could back to school when it started.  the only thing I was held back it will be going to a different school because the boundaries the changed. Before school started we had a meeting with the principal and some other people.  I was told not to tell anybody about my epilepsy.  The school made me feel shame to have it.  So I hid it for years, there’s only a few friends that actually knew I had it. In 7th grade my seizure started getting a bad again. It was getting harder to hide the fact that I had epilepsy. So I ended up telling a few more friends, but they stopped talking to me because they thought they could get epilepsy for me. That’s when I started mostly keeping to myself.
        My seizure started processing more and more, so we decided to change neurologist. This neurologist was freaking awesome. He did more testing and found out what was causing my epilepsy. My epilepsy is caused by a lesion on my brain.  which is a dead spot on my brain that collects electricity. When it releases the electricity that’s what causes a seizure. This neurologist also made me aware that I would never outgrow it and I would probably need brain surgery in the future. He also told me how dangerous it can be because of where my lesion located. It’s located on my motor strip and it never did that type of surgery on anybody yet.
     My epilepsy was pretty much under control till about junior year. Halfway through junior year the seizures got bad. I was sent him one day and I was told not to come back to school because I was a danger to myself and others. Only then because I had a seizure in the nurse’s office. I wasn’t given a chance to tell my friends good bye or why I was leaving.  I just felt like the school was trying to sweep me under neath the rug.  They put me on Homebound and sent tutor and every day.
     My senior year  I wanted to get back to school and  graduate with my friends. The first day of school was going great, until I started feeling a bit funky. I knew it was going to be coming.  I was going up the steps by the pool in the feeling.and the feeling got worse. So I sat down where the pool door was, because I knew I was going to have a seizure. So here I am having a seizure by the pool door and Ryan sees me. He freaks and gets a teacher of course. The school told me again I wasn’t allowed back in school.  and that’s the moment I made a decision that would change my life forever.
       At my next doctor’s appointment I brought up the brain surgery. I told him I was done I wanted a normal life. So here it for me down to John Hopkins. Which I went down for testing a couple times a month sometimes for about 6 months. Until they scheduled my surgery. All my friends we’re getting ready for prom, and I was getting ready for brain surgery.
     The night before my brain surgery we ordered us to The Cheesecake Factory. I remember I got calamari and strawberry cheesecake. It was kinda of a last supper for me. I had a huge support team that came with me. It included my mom, step dad (Todd), my boyfriend (Kris), my Aunt Angie and Uncle Craig. Also both of my grandmothers where there or visited after.
      I remember saying good bye to everyone right before they took me into the operating room. I remember the tears in their eyes. I guess the surgery took 10-12 hours. I had a hard time waking up from the anesthesia. They were getting worried cause I wasn’t waking up. When I didn’t start to come around I remember Todd and my uncle Craig being on my left side, and my dad and pap on my right side. I thought I was dreaming my dad passed when I was 3 and my pap passed when I was 15.
      I ended up have 2 brain surgery over the 3 months I was in the hospital. My family back home would send care packages and come see me when they could. I felt so alone most day even when I had family around. No one could understand what I was going threw. I just wanted to be home picking out a dress for prom. I cried myself to sleep most nights.
     The day I got to come home I was so excited. I missed 3-4 months of time with my family. I got home and everyone treated me like I was glass, even my boyfriend. When I got home most of my head was shaved. Kris’s mom Paula shaved the rest for me. She cried the whole time.
     My brain surgery was to help lessen my seizures, but it didn’t. In fact in it made me a lot worse. I went for having 25 seizures a day to 100+ a day. So needless to say it didn’t help at all. I was at my breaking point then.
     That’s when my neurologist brought up an experimental procedure called gamma knife. Which is radiation that would shrink the dead spot on my brain. So needless to say I jumped as an opportunity. Which meant a few months more testing. I didn’t have the procedure done in till 2004. They only gave me a half dose because he never did anything to anyone on the motor strip.
      Six months after the procedure my seizures were almost non-existent. I would only have them at night mostly. Around this time Kris broke up with me. I guess he couldn’t deal with my epilepsy. I don’t really blame him though. He just didn’t give the procedure time to work.
     My epilepsy was basically control for the next 2 years. My sister’s decided it was time for me to start dating again. So I did the whole online dating thing. I met a nice guy named Matt. The first time I had a seizure in front of him was 3 months after we were dating. I looked at him as like if you can’t deal with this just walk away. He told me he wasn’t going anywhere. Things were good till the seizures started getting bad again.  Matt started working more to avoid it I feel.
      My doctor started talking about the second half of gamma knife. Since I only had a half a day so I can have it again. Matt said if you want kids so you need to do something. I went a head and did it for a second time. Six months after my left side started getting weak. This is right around my younger sister’s wedding. All I could think was don’t have a seizure and don’t trip as I’m walking down the Isle.
        About 6 months  I want completely paralyzed on my left side. I couldn’t move it at all.  So they transferred me to UPMC Presby to figure out what was going on. It happened to be a side effect of the gamma knife I I had for the second time.  I had to go through extreme rehab to get what little movement I have. By this time I only seeing Matt a few hours a week. That went on for a few years till i hit my breaking point.
       So now I’m only  partially paralyzed on the left side.  I can walk some but not a lot most days I’m in my power chair.  I think I wanted it there to prove doctors wrong because they said I’d never walk again. I like when people underestimate me that just means I get to prove them wrong. I have a wonderful boyfriend Jesse. He goes to every doctor’s appointment with me. Without him in my family I don’t know where I would be. We recently made a decision together that I would not attempt to get pregnant because it’s way too risky. It can make my epilepsy worse. And right now I’m having a seizure every couple months so it’s not too bad.
      I learned a lot for my epilepsy. It’s not a condition for the weak. It’s something I’ll be battling the rest of my life. Weather I take it day by day or minute by minute.  next year my battle will be going on for 30 years. I’m thinking I’m getting on epilepsy Warrior tattoo for battling 30 years of it. I’ve learned people say they’ll be there for you and they walk out when you need them the most.  I’ve learned I’m stronger than I think I can do anything I put my mind to. It might take me a little longer to get there but I’ll do it. I hope you learn from my story.

Who you Are

Blog. I have been thinking about blogging forever.  I didn’t know what I would write about.. I’m not into fashion, I don’t bake, I need to exercise more an I did not want to write a mom blog.  I kept trying to find my “passion”.  What was my passion??   I kept feeling like there was more, more to my life.  I was searching for something but I didn’t know what.  Finally one morning on the way to a makeup job it hit me what my passion was, PEOPLE.  I love people, I love to hear their stories, I love how different we all are an love that everyone has a story.  So that is how this blog “Who You Are” came about.

So let me tell you the purpose of Who You Are.  Sometimes people need to tell their stories without judgement and fear.  Sometimes you need to be raw and truthful with yourself.  This is a place where you can inspire and be inspired.  All stories will be left completely the way the author has written their thoughts and feelings.  All stories will be left anonymous.  This is a place to come and find hope, grow as a person and maybe even relate.  We all have stories,  sometimes we just need to listen to others.

xoxo