I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way, but the holidays seemed to have picked me up by my feet, swung me around its head, and flung me into a dumpster. The one behind Sizzler.
It all came to a crashing halt yesterday when I woke up and couldn’t breathe or straighten out my fingers on either hand, my limbs paralyzed with anxiety. I don’t know if it has to do with Marlo’s age and the fatigue of getting her to this point, because it was when Leta was this old that I really didn’t understand how life could go on.
Now, I’m not there this time. I’m not even close to there, but I do see signs that if I were not actively treating my anxiety disorder that I would be a total basket case. Sometimes it pokes through everything that I’m doing to squash it, and the room starts to spin and I feel like my heart is going to explode or crawl up and out of my throat. Those times are usually set off by little things that I have let build up over time, and suddenly I’m in the kitchen thinking about Marlo’s next nap, whether or not we have what we need for Leta’s lunch the next day, the email I have not answered, and the mountain of boots blocking the front door. And I’m suddenly overcome with the urge to puke.
There is no reason at all whatsoever to freak out about those things, but when you let sleep deprivation creep up on you, or certain other parts of your life start to spin out of control, those little things can seem like a giant concrete wall holing you up inside a bottomless pit.
A few months ago I had a panic attack, the first real live one I’ve ever had in my life. One where my chest started to contract and I thought I might suffocate. I didn’t know why, I had everything under control, but there it was and I could not stop it. We’ll call it A Learning Moment, because I had no idea what to do, Jon had no idea what to do, and Leta just stood there watching the both of us not knowing what to do. Later she explained to my mother that we had had an emergency, but it wasn’t like the emergencies they talk about in school when you call 911. It was an emergency where Mom couldn’t breathe, and Dad waved his arms around his head a lot.
The solution was to lie in bed and breathe, but we didn’t get to that point until we’d screamed at each other for about an hour. Well, not really screaming, because Leta was there and we didn’t want to scare her too much. So it was heated, slightly-elevated-in-pitch questions and suggestions to each other:
WHY CAN YOU NOT SIT DOWN?
I CAN’T MOVE MY LEGS.
WELL THAT IS JUST DUMB.
CALLING ME DUMB IS NOT HELPING.
And on and on until I’m in bed breathing in and out to the count of ten. And then it was over. And I was fine.
Yesterday morning it happened again, so I got in bed for a couple of hours and everything was fine. Jon knew not to suggest that my feelings were dumb, and instead stroked my head and let me cry. Something was telling me, though, that it was more than just stress, that maybe my hormones were involved because my emotions were exactly like the ones I used to feel when I was sixteen and waiting around for a boy to call AND HE WASN’T CALLING.
And by yesterday afternoon everything made sense: Marlo is now eating solids and taking one or two bottles a day. Which means I am breastfeeding far less than I used to. Which means my body is making its way back to the way it was before pregnancy, which means YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
Yes. That. That. Do I have to say it? What are the euphemisms again, it’s been so long:
“Miss Scarlett’s Come Home to Tara”
“Taking Carrie to the Prom”
“Game Day for the Crimson Tide”
“Falling to the Communists”
“Rebooting the Ovarian Operating System”
That. And I was like, really? I’m still breastfeeding! What’s the point now? Yeah, we snuggle and it is the most amazing and magical bonding experience, and I’m going to cry for days when I stop completely, but other than that? At least give me a partial refund!
So. Hormones. Just ask Jon, he who every hour check in and says, “Is now a good time to tell you that everything is going to be okay? Or should I just be quiet?”