I didn't want the drama, the stress, the utter despair. I was careful. I was aware. Or so I thought. I didn't even realize I was slipping. I didn't identify the dull haze of apathy as leading me to the same place. I put on a good face. I enjoyed time with my family and friends, and relished their attention when I had it. I was genuinely happy in those moments. But behind everything, there was relentless pain and a heavy question weighting my chest..."What is the point?" I had no goals. I had given up on becoming. I didn't think I was allowed to become anymore. I just ...was. I encouraged loved ones, with my undying optimism and empathy. I was everything for everyone else... but not for me. Life was good... but not for me. Adventures were out there waiting to be had.... but not for me. Greatness was within reach and the future looked bright.... but not for me. The exhausted sense of surrender subtly grew until every morning I woke with the same thought. "Can I give up yet?" I felt like a peacefully drowning toddler who suddenly realizes she can't breathe, and just what that might mean. It wasn't like me not to tread water. This wasn't me!!
I had a particularly poignant panic attack the other day. I had taken the kids on an incredible camping trip with my family while Aaron was off running the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay. We had both arrived home exhausted. I laid on Aaron's warm chest, staring at the ceiling, and wailing aloud every massively crushing fear as tears coursed down the sides of my face and filled my ears. What if I'm not allowed to have good anymore? What if no one really loves me and it's all just pity? What if I have lost every bit of fitness and I'm just getting flabbier and weaker by the minute? What if my haircut just makes me look like a fat boy? What if I never get to do the things I love again? What if the copper toxicity that has ravaged my mind and trashed my body is permanent? What if it triggers early onset Alzheimers and I can't remember my family anymore, and they are stuck with the insane husk of what used to be me? "I'm serious! I'm so screwed up, Babe!! I'm so screwed up!!"
To Aaron's credit, he only laughed once. After proper amounts of support and discussion, and promising me that things would get better, he very gingerly reminded me, in not so many words, that these episodes effect him and the kids. Which sent me into a fresh spiral of guilt, but which also gave me fresh motivation to pull myself together and look outside myself to care for them. We ate dinner around nine that night, but it was home cooked and healthy.
The next morning was Father's Day. I stuffed my anxiety deep into my chest and did my best to make this day about him. My emotional thrashing had nixed my preparatory trip to the store the night before, so I made do. Aaron looked me in the eyes and asked me not to feel guilty, and to just enjoy the day with him. It told him I would. Sometime mid-day, I sat at my computer while he napped. My eyes swept the messy desk around me and paused on a CD set that Aaron had gotten for free from some motivational seminar. "Building a Mind of Steel: The key to managing your little voices" by Kirk Duncan. I popped it in my disk drive and put on my headphones. It was cheesy, but the longer I listened, the more it applied to me. I hadn't realized just how much I had stopped believing. I'd turned a blind eye to the fact that I was letting those dark little voices have their way. I made lists, I started the exercises. I began to fight. In the program there is a challenge to write a positive affirmation strong enough to combat the negative narrative. "Imagine if you read this about yourself every night before bed? How would that affect you?"
Don't laugh. Here is mine:
I am an intelligent and voracious learner. I am strong. I am gracious and kind, unpresuming and generous. I am unstoppable, determined, and positive. I am an inspiration to those around me. I am free and uncluttered. I am wise and decisive. I am honest, authentic, real, and unapologetic. I accept the details of myself. I own the good and the bad in the knowledge that everything changes, including me. I am whole as I am. I am my own hero. I am a champion of LOVE. I accept the challenge to grow, to improve, to expand. I am adored. I am secure. I radiate JOY. I live in faith and trust, in myself, in my God, and in those around me.
This is my fight. I will not quietly drown in doubt and fear. I will not let the little voices win.