Saturday, August 30, 2014

The visceral pain of anxiety

I have just begun reading Huck's Raft:  A History of American Childhood.  I decided I needed to read this to have a better perspective on what childhood has really been like throughout time.    Too often I get sucked into the notion that I am not providing a "good enough" experience for my own kids.  I worry that they are playing too many videos games or not getting outside enough.

I'm a only a little bit into the text, still in the 1600s, but I am struck again, as I always am, by how much death was very much a large part of life.  A large percentage of children died before age five.  Diseases were neither understood nor particularly treatable.  Spirituality focused much more on the hereafter than on the here because, I suppose, the hereafter was going to be a much longer stretch of time.  It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is still the case in so many parts of the world.  I live such a sheltered life.

I think on this because last night I suffered a bout of panic that I was not expecting.  It hit me quickly and its full strength passed quickly, but I still feel sensations of it inside me.  The squeeze, the tightness gripping my chest and abdomen.  It is as if a tender bruise has been left in that space.

When that feeling hits, it is like a wind smacking one's chest.  A horrible Holy Spirit of terror seizes one's heart, and it takes minutes for the brain to understand what is going on.  For the brain to start thinking rational thoughts, to parse through all the irrational shreds of ideas that tear through one's mind.

N left this morning to go to the lake with her grandmother, my MIL.  She is spending the weekend with my MIL, my SIL, BIL and niece.  She has done this numerous times over the past few years.  I don't realistically think anything bad will happen.  If N was in peril of drowning or anything, my MIL would go down with her in the act of saving her, which wouldn't make me any less sad but I know my MIL is vigilant.  It is not who N is with or where she is.  It is that she isn't with me.

Perhaps my worry is based on the fact that N was sick this past week with a viral infection.  Two days home from school, and she is still sniffly.  My mind wanders, and I imagine her sniffling amoeba-contaminated lake water up her nose, developing a brain infection and dying.

Perhaps my panic is less about her than about the month-long struggle with M's ear, which we now know is fungal.  Per the ENT visit yesterday, his ear is looking better since Monday's visit, and we will continue on this Rx for 10 full days.  M still may require surgery to clean out, again, all the funk of this seemingly never-ending saga of ear crud.

Perhaps my panic is knowing that my children are slipping away from me.  My baby will be 5 in October, a fact that would make Puritan families rejoice.....that a child had survived that long.  A fact that makes my heart weepy.

When I hear of people discounting anxiety, depression and other mental issues, saying people who suffer under these aren't "strong enough," I wish I could make them feel the gripping pain of anxiety, that physical sensation of brief but intense panic.  It is more physical than the early stages of diabetes or other chronic disorders ever feel.

It feels utterly devastating and leaves a residue of sadness in its wake.  

1 comment:

Cameron Von St James said...

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