I feel like I’m waking up from a years-long nightmare.
I still have many, many crises to solve – endometriosis pain and infertility are the top contenders at the moment – but for the first time in years I feel like I’m myself, not some kind of warped, irritable, monster version of myself.
On Saturday, my husband and I went shopping. We’d decided retail therapy was probably less expensive than actual therapy, so we made a day of it! We spent hours looking for a new microwave, a new basement couch, picture frames, upholstery fabric. We voluntarily went into Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon. We ate lunch at a crowded restaurant.
For the past three years or more, any one of those things would have triggered for me severe anxiety or a full-blown panic attack. Three month ago, I would have been holding my husband’s hand in a death grip and shying away from the noise like a frightened puppy trying to get away from a stranger. I’d have bit my husband’s head off a dozen times or more out of overwhelming anxiety about the situations. And I most certainly would not have spoken to anyone other than him – not even salespeople.
But on Saturday: I voluntarily had a conversation with a stranger in a crowded restaurant. I initiated it. I didn’t tense up, didn’t make fists of stress, didn’t act like the crowd was repeatedly slapping me in the face. I asked the woman about her twin baby boys, said hello to her other children, spoke to the grandma for a moment, and then turned back to find my husband staring at me like he’d never met me.
“Who ARE you?” he asked, his eyes sparkling. “I have no idea what to do with you.” There was laughter, and pride, and joyful thanks in his voice.
I used to be ok like this. Not often: I am an introvert, and I am severely hearing impaired, so I’ve always preferred corners and general wallflower behavior to be in crowds. But the terror, the anxiety, the panic attacks — those are not who I am. I am – or used to be – someone who stood my ground and looked straight into the eye of the world without flinching.
This is what the hearing loss and infertility and insomnia and all those other trials had done. They had robbed me of my confidence in myself.
The antidepressants are waking me up so that I can see the world and myself clearly again.