Anxiety…a lesson for my kids

  Yeah, yesterday was awesomely rough.  I had a few revelations, a few events and moments.  We went to the circus.  Everything I was afraid of happened.  I seem to forget just how disabled I am.  It’s like those people with severe anxiety and depression (I’m unsure if I fall into those categories) that always say:

Just because you can’t see it, because I don’t show it, doesn’t mean I’m not suffering or struggling inside

   It’s like I’m still in denial about my disabilities but how can that be after 3 years of living like this?  I’m very aware of my left side.  I honestly don’t know what it is that it should be classified under.  Is it hemiparesis;  hemiplegia? I don’t know! All of my doctors say hemiparesis but all web sites say that is just weakness.  The therapists that work with my son say he is hemiparetic but he can use both hands and move his toes.  I discovered the term hemiplegia on my own and it sounds more like me.  I can’t move or control all of my pieces on the left side of my body.  I can’t feel them either.  Either I don’t know the difference or my doctors don’t.  It seems pretty simple to me.  I say hemiparetic because that is what my doctors say :/ but I think they are wrong.
All the way to the circus I felt like I was going to hyperventilate.  I was not dizzy or suffering a migraine, two signs I am under too much stress but I had the urge to breathe erratically.  I didn’t, I suppressed the urge somehow but it was still there nonetheless.  I had a minor freak out over how much cash to take out of the checking account, I had been able to pocket an extra fifty bucks from the bills to save for the circus. I knew it wouldn’t be enough for anyone but our 6-year-old but I knew Boonshka wouldn’t complain too much as long as he got a bite or sip or two.  I wasn’t sure if we should take out just enough for parking or all of that ‘extra’ fifty bucks.  I haven’t gone to any type of events since…it’s been a real long time.
Skas is in the backseat super excited, Boonshka is beside him sucking on a french fry in one hand and nibbling a nugget in the other.  He doesn’t care, he’s out of the house.    Kasper is driving us, parking us, getting everyone out of the car and I had already yelled like 20 different times since we left the house.  My nerves are wild, live wires flopping around inside of me with no one in sight to get them under control.  I get out of the car, right away I see trouble.  Not only are we parked on a sand/dirt/grass mixture with broken chunks of old parking lot peeking out from under the weeds and layer of sand, but there is also loose gravel and it is everywhere.  I survey the ground, my left arm slowly rising up on its own, a signal of my fear and overworking nerves. Kasper is there, he guides me, he holds my hand, walks me like an elderly woman with weak hips and ankles, my cane hangs from his arm.
The people next to us make room for my wide and uneven gait.  We cross the road, we get to the handicap ramp.  As soon as I reach the top of the ramp, I’m asked if I would like a complimentary wheelchair.  I’m exhausted, I’m wide-eyed scared and my head is buzzing but I tell the woman I am okay.  What is wrong with me?  I have no idea!  I should have brought my own wheelchair.
We get inside, the crowd is mad!  People are everywhere, lines of people cutting across every walkway, wires are taped down in randomly inconvenient areas.  My left body is now on full alert.  I get a stiff and wandering left pinky stuck in a womans sleeve, she’s polite enough to kindly release herself before giving me a sympathetic smile and a nod before rushing away from me.  I feel my left face tighten.  It’s Ok, I breathe deep, put my chin out, I move along with my husband leading our small troop. We enter the first gate that opens into the arena and the crowd is simply too much for my eyes to take in.  I see seats that reach the ceiling, people meandering without rhythm and blurred sound clouds my sight.  I am instantly overwhelmed.  Up one step, no seats, down a step.  People are unmoving, just standing there in front of me, bumping into me, pushing me.  I squeeze Kasper’s hand tighter.  Up to the next set of seating, nothing.  We ask for assistance, no one knows where to suggest we go.  There are stairs everywhere and people and so much noise and kids running and colors flashing.  I can’t take it all in.  I feel it in my chest, in my stomach, in my face, in my head.  I start hobbling away at a very rigid, awkward, clumsy and slow pace.  My cane is unable to assist me I am such a wreck. Kasper leads me away towards an actual exit, tells me we can take an elevator to the next level up.  How is that going to work?  Just the sight of the chairs leading up to the second level freak me out.  We exit back out into the merchant area and start rounding the outer arena looking for an elevator. The crowd is thicker now, 10f4736779ad8ee545a9ad21685b52aethe people more pushy, the kids fatter and their parents meaner…they are all hoping they aren’t too late to ride the elephants is my guess.  I need to cross over.  I have to get past the people trying to make it to the entrances.  I am panicking, my heart is hurting my chest, my left body is completely numb and my left face is a scowl I can feel.  I have no feeling in my left face, you can slap me and I probably will only feel the force of it and not the connection.  I know what is coming.  I’m near doing my version of running which is more similar to a stiff peg-legged hop-drag thing.  Kasper is caught on a purple monkey balloon hanging from a display I missed in my escape.  My kids are too busy gawking at the crowd and one is complaining about wanting popcorn and a drink and a balloon.  I yell at him, I think I even pushed him (*note to self* apologize to the kid for that when he comes inside for dinner).  I just wanted him to shut up.  I wanted everyone to shut up.  I could picture myself standing there with both my hands over my ears and my mouth open emitting a loud siren-like scream.  None of that happens, of course.  I’m just a tight left face with one leaking eye and a runny nose.
We get to the elevators, it’s no big deal on the way up.  I calmed down some.  Only Skas noticed my tears but Kasper noticed I was extremely stressed.  They are both there for me.  We exit the elevator and I see the entrance leading onto the second level.  Before we are near the opening, I can feel my chest heaving, my right side is slamming into the wall because my eyes already envisioned the sight ahead of us.  We reach the curtain just as someone exits and I see nothing but rows and rows of seats going up, down, all around and a high, so high, ceiling and people are everywhere.  I froze, I was stuck to the wall.  My husband is yelling at me, Skas is confused, people are staring, I’m crying and shaking repeating that I can’t do it, I can’t do it.  I can’t go out there, people will see me, I’ll get in their way; they’ll get in my way.  The seats are too high up, the fall too big.  I’ve always had vertigo but since my stroke and the surgery, it’s so much more intense and difficult to control.  The lady working this floor directs us over to an open area with no seats.  She looks irritated until she sees my cane and my crazy need to hug a wall.  She sets up folded chairs and I see that we somehow landed in the handicapped zone.  There’s no one around us anymore.  I sit down in the offered chair and immediately start to sweat.  I’m too close to the edge and all I can hear is my mind yelling at me “you’re too close, too close, it’s too high, you’re too high, it’s too close”  I can’t shut the noise up.  I pull on Kasper to move the next chair back.  I can’t even stand up, my vertigo is too bad.  I can only do this weird slide squat thing which was really awkward because of my stiff and uncontrollable left body.

   I had finally made it to my seat.  I watched the show happily enough, leaning into Sla’s ear pointing and explaining things to him, answering his many questions about the white tigers and camel humps and trapeze artists.  I told him names of jumps from motocross and forced him to share his $5 raspa with his brother who was really confused by the spoon-straw.  It was great, not great, the circus is not what it used to be.  All I can think of is animal abuse/cruelty and the travelling odor these people have to live with but probably don’t notice anymore.  When you become an adult I guess the reality of things sucks the life right out of the magic of it all.  But my kids were happy…?  Not sure that makes up for possible and likely abuse going on behind the scenes.  Anyway….
We get home, boys get cleaned up and put in bed.  We used 20 of that ‘extra’ fifty to buy some pot because I was pretty wired from my experience.  My stress had reached an all time high last night and my body odor proved it for sure.  That money wasn’t intended for pot.  If I had really thought it through, I would have told Kasper to take out all fifty instead of only nodding when he suggested twenty in case parking cost more than $5…it was $10 – in case I didn’t mention that yet. I totally forgot that people at these venues mostly only want cash, not what I call “air money” because there’s always a chance it’s just not really there. We smoked two big fatties and split a pot of coffee while I considered and contemplated all of the events of the evening.
I freaked out, I panicked, I broke down, I yelled and I even called one young woman a “horribly inconsiderate person with nothing but a dumbass mind to get her pushing past a disabled person.” I don’t think that made sense to her but she pushed me out of her way! She scared me and that was my response.  I thought of Skas, how he saw me behave and for a while I was embarrassed.  How can I raise my kids into decent human beings with a good sense of proper behavior in high-stress situations or similar when my own behavior does not reflect one of positivity?  It’s like yelling at your kid to be patient…bit of an oxymoron in terms of ‘practicing what you preach’ isn’t it?
Then I remembered how scared I was on the gravel and he saw me push on after Kasper encouraged me with promises of not being upset to take it slow with me.  He saw me crying the first time but also saw me continue forth.  He saw me panic so bad his dad was embarrassed and tried to convince me to just go home to save us all the trouble an embarrassment and yet I stayed.  I over came the fear enough to keep going.  Sure, I could use a little work on my patience, my temper, my everything but I didn’t let any of it stop me entirely.  I didn’t let it end the night for my kids.
My friend says I should ask my doctor for a low dose of Xanax for these types of situations but…I take 6 pills a day, do I really need to take more?  And why is it so bad to try to walk?  I know I am a handful, that I am confusing and sometimes difficult to watch but why should that limit me to a wheelchair?  Just because it’s easier?  That’s not fair.  As complicated as it is…I like the challenge.  No matter how close I am to failing, I still get through it and I may be exhausted but that sense of accomplishment is worth the struggle – it just doesn’t seem like it until it’s all over with.  I didn’t know that I am actually disabled.  I guess I just keep hoping that this is temporary so why ‘accept’ it?  What if it’s not temporary?  What if it’s not just because it’s ‘easier’ to use a wheelchair but necessary?  Same with taking a low dose anti-anxiety pill for occasions just as this?   Am I to be a slave to big pharma forever?  Another friend asked why I didn’t smoke a joint before we left.  A.) the kids were awake and around; B.) we didn’t have any and C.) unlike medicinal marijuana, regular pot makes me paranoid when I’m high in public.  I’m sure this has more to do with ‘getting caught’ than it does with the strand or breed or label.  It’s illegal where I’m at.  If I get caught, I’ll lose my kids to the state and I don’t want that but I don’t want a pill! This line of thinking is giving me another anxiety fluctuation.  I’m very tired.  I need a nap.

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With or without any type of drug, the point of this post is that I did it.  I amazed myself (and my husband) by not giving up, not freaking out so much that I wanted to leave RIGHT NOW even though in my head, yeah, I wanted to get the Hell out of there.  I couldn’t get rid of or destroy my anxiety and vertigo but I didn’t let it stop me and both my kids, as well as my husband, got to see that. Because we talked about it, I know at least one of my kids got the message.  Patience, determination and perseverance all worked in my favor last night as well as theirs. Let’s just hope that message sticks with the memory.

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