Tag Archives: anxiety

‘Your brain is injured, it needs time to heal’

26 Aug

God is good. All of the time…

Have you ever prayed so hard for something that seemed so elusive? I’m not talking about a better job, more money or even someone to love you. I’m talking about something that seemed like it was completely out of your control and reach, even though you prayed fervently about it. I have.

Over the last five + months, I have prayed for one thing daily: peace of mind. I have not had it since the moment the doctors told me that my child’s heart had stopped and that my 33 weeks and three days of pregnancy would end in broken hearts for me and my family.  It is one thing to mourn the loss of my child but, it is totally something else to also have to deal with post-partum anxiety at the same time. I’ve had it badly.

I was left feeling like I was on the outside looking into my own life. I didn’t recognize who I was anymore. Afraid to be alone, go outside, take the elevator, sit in my car in traffic, travel any long distance away from the apartment I call home, ride the subway, and fly among many other ‘normal’ things. Most of all, I was afraid of being afraid.  My fears kept me up at night and when I finally did fall asleep; my fears caused me to abruptly awake an hour or two into slumber. It was mentally taxing and I was physically exhausted and frustrated because I could not rest. I did not rest.

Every night I prayed the same prayer. Reminding myself that God is in charge and that He is bigger and mightier than I and that I was choosing to overcome this great obstacle no matter how long it would take. When I wasn’t praying for the hurt and pain to go away along with my panic attacks over the most normal routines, I challenged myself to face my new fears once or twice per week. I took trial runs on the subway and even went underground. I shook in distress and sweated the whole way but, it was one step to conquering one fear and getting my life back. Every single time I challenged myself the result would be a sense of accomplishment and then deep depression. I thought will I live my life this way forever? Surely, there is much more of the world I want to see. This cannot be it for me. So these exercises/challenges became worth it and instrumental to my recovery.

I continued like this for the first three months often getting frustrated and sometimes losing hope. At my lowest moments I relied on my husband and my sister for reassurance. One evening, my sister was visiting and although I tried not to alarm her, I know my husband kept her abreast of everything happening with me. I unloaded on her my emotional and mental state and beat myself up a bit about how long it was taking for me to get back to normal. She looked at me and said something that has made me look at my temporary inability to thwart off unfounded fears in a new light. She said to me, “your brain is injured” and like any other injured part of your body, it needs time to heal.

Wow.

It seems so simple but how many people overwhelmed by traumatic and tragic experiences beat themselves up and think they’ve lost their marbles when in fact, there is good reason for that state of mind. I lost a child and my body had to abruptly stop a biological and physiological process before it was able to finish. Of course I’m going to be affected, my mind and body is trying to figure it all out too.

When my sister said those words, I immediately changed my outlook on the healing process. I knew now that I didn’t have to push myself so hard. That if all I could handle was one task or challenge per day, then I was not going to allow myself to get frustrated for not being able to do more.

At five months post-partum, I am where I couldn’t even imagine one month ago. I have been on four trips and 10 planes. I did it! Flying has been my greatest new fear. The thought of sitting on a plane for several hours (I’m African, remember we have to go a long way to visit family) was debilitating and would send me into panic.

As much as my husband wanted to whisk me away to some exotic place where we could try and forget our pain for a short time, I just couldn’t bring myself to entertain flying. But God works in mysterious way, I had to two opportunities to fly locally, one for an hour and the other for two and a half hours. The one hour flight was the most nerve wrecking and agonizing. Everything that could go wrong ran across my mind and I was a mental mess. There were tears but, as the old saying goes, no pain no gain. Thanks to these two short flights I was able to fly all the way to Malawi and then Spain earlier this month. The impossible became possible.

Although, I am still not eager to jump onto the next plane or be by myself, the fact that I have flown 10+ hours at a time on several planes and to different far away and unfamiliar lands, has given me new vigor. I can do anything (through Christ)! And with my sister’s sagely advice, I know that my mind is still healing and I will have peace again.

 

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Not Again!

14 Jul

I have been sleeping OK for the last couple of weeks. I no longer wake up in fear and panic over small things three or four times per night. I can finally say I’m getting uninterrupted sleep (even if its only 4-6 hours).

It has become normal for me to not fall asleep until after midnight and if I don’t force myself, I can be wide awake way into the early morning hours. The inconvenience to my daily routine is noticeable. I can hardly leave my home for work by 8:30 am. This is not sustainable. Something has to give.

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning for no particular reason. Heart racing, head pounding and an uneasiness that I can not explain but, it keeps me up. Wide awake. Its been a few weeks since this kind of episode and after falling asleep early at midnight, I looked forward to sleeping straight through to 6:30 am or 7:00 am.

Immediately, I ask when it will end. When will I go back to my 8-hour- per night sleep pattern? There are few things that frustrate me and not being able to sleep is at the top of this list.

One thing is for sure, I have come a long way from March 13th, 2013 when my world was shaken and changed forever but, I am gradually working on becoming “normal” again.

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