It was Wednesday night and the clouds rolled in fast. Just a few hours earlier we were sitting on the back deck eating dinner. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I was ambitious and I made chicken souvlaki skewers on the BBQ, corn-on-the-cob, and I served it with store bought quinoa salad. Of course, the boys didn’t care for it much, but they ate it anyway. I took a few bites and it made me feel a little sick – but the corn was so good so I ate all of it. I had been feeling sick all day – since I woke up from my post-call sleep, that is. The wasps were hovering around so I stood up with fury to swat them with the bug swatter. I don’t know if it was the dinner, or the quick movements, but I suddenly felt worse. I went inside to find some kind of anti-emetic in my call bag, but found myself in my bathroom instead. I didn’t quite sit down by the toilet, but I stood nearby. I heard husband come home and bear witness to the mild chaos that I’d left behind downstairs. They all started looking for me and like a mini army, they located me. Between my deep breaths, I told them that I wasn’t feeling well and to leave me alone. Husband said “My God. It’s your kids that do this to you!”
From my seat on the bathroom floor I could hear husband getting the boys ready for bed. Just before that they were watching the lightening and thunder from the living room windows. I hadn’t moved in hours. Sometimes I would get a little closer to the toilet, and other times I would sit back against the wall. At one point I heard A. searching the house for me: “Mommy, where are you?” And then he started sobbing: “I lost Mommy, Daddy, I lost Mommy.” When he finally found me and asked me what I was doing, it took all the energy I had to ask him to leave. But what 4 year old leaves when you say it the first time? I repeated myself over and over, probably getting louder each time. Finally, Husband came to get him out of the bathroom. I instantly felt worse for yelling at my son for just wanting to be with me.
The thunder and lighting was getting worse and now the boys were crying out of fear. With a small pill bottle clutched in my hands, I could hear Husband doing his best, racing back and forth between the two bedrooms, trying to comfort both boys simultaneously. Ativan. My doctor gave it to me the day before, when I went to see her about my anxiety. I told her that I thought my anxiety was getting worse because I was feeling more nauseated all the time. I felt like I was having more frequent panic attacks – that pretty much involved me getting instantly and inexplicably nauseous. I told her that I was also having chronic stomach aches, which didn’t make the fear and anxiety about nausea any easier to deal with. I was the one who asked her for some medication. Despite my regular exercise, and mindfulness meditation, and journaling, I still felt like things were getting worse. Why wasn’t this easier? She gave me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication as well at the ativan – to help me through some of the panic attacks and the possibility that the anxiety could get worse before it gets better. I took the first anti-anxiety pill before I went to sleep after my call shift that morning morning.
I watched the lightening fill the sky and heard the heavy rain pounding against the bathroom window. I wanted to throw-up, to get it over with, to feel better. But I couldn’t do it. I opened the bottle of ativan and took out a tiny green pill. I was scared to take it. What would happen? Would it take away the anxiety and make the nausea go away, or would it relax me enough to finally let it happen. For a second I hesitated – I’m not crazy, crazy people use ativan… how did I get to this point? As the persistent wave of nausea began to swell once more, I placed the tiny pill under my tongue and held it there as lightly as possible.
I felt hazy as I watched the trees fight with the wind outside the bedroom windows. The storm was right above us now, with the thunder coming louder than ever almost immediately after the lightening filled the sky. Both of the boys were still screaming and crying out of fear. They were asking for me. I slowly became part of the floor, part of the wall, and for the first time in a long time, I felt defeated. I reached out for my phone and I texted K – the only person who knows that I’ve been struggling lately: “K, I’m a mess. I can’t keep this up. I just had to take an ativan.” We talked briefly and she encouraged me to seek out other help. I don’t know if it was the ativan or talking with her, but the nausea began to subside. Finally, for the first time in hours, I was able to pick myself up off of the floor.
I journeyed into E’s room, where he was crying and alone. I picked him up to finally comfort my child, who had been wanting me for hours and I couldn’t come. Despite a low level of persistent nausea and the cloudy feeling now pervading my head, I cuddled and caressed him until he was calm. Husband came and took over so that I could also visit A, who desperately wanted my comfort during the storm. When both boys were finally calm, I went back to my bedroom and climbed into bed. I was still nauseous enough that I wasn’t ready to lay down. However, the harsh, rhythmic sounds of the storm lulled me into a heavy, drug induced sleep.
*It’s been two days since then and it is still raining outside. I don’t feel any better, mentally or physically. I feel weak, and defeated, and incapable. I regret reaching out. Despite all my progress, I regret being vulnerable.