Welcome to CrazyVille…(also known as the time in my life when all I could eat I was a turkey subway sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner). It’s all I could get down because of my panic…
Today I bought a subway sandwich and ate it with absolutely no issue whatsoever. I’ve come a long way baby!
I was in my late 20’s and 89 pounds. I had awful, awful, chronic debilitating panic attacks. One of many symptoms during an attack was a tightening of the muscles around my throat, and very dry mouth, so it felt like someone was strangling me. It was very difficult for me to swallow when my neck felt that way, and there wasn’t enough water in my mouth to easily swallow. My “what if” thinking would narrate the simple act of swallowing a bite of food by calculating how exactly I was going to give myself the Heimlich maneuver, when I most assuredly was bound to choke. (Btw, that never happened) When eating in public, I casually ran my pointer finger slowly down my throat like one would do to get their dog to swallow a pill. I did this for each bite of all food on any given day…sometimes every bite in a day.
Welcome to my world.
If I didn’t choke, then maybe I’d relax and get a few bites down, or maybe the stress of it threw me over the edge and an avalanche of adrenaline cascaded down like a tingling sensation from my scalp to my toes. Or, a wake of trembling and evacuation of my bowels and bladder, but at least I didn’t have to worry about choking. I couldn’t eat at all. Even a sip of water brought fear of choking to death.
I just simply tried to hang on to my life and sanity for one minute at a time, hoping that time would ease my suffering. Just. Hang. On.
Pray, beg, pray, beg, promise, beg, pray…
Remember, I couldn’t take any sort of anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication. I white-knuckled my childhood abuse. I white-knuckled surviving it. I white-knuckled the healing process.
If my grandmother was visiting, my “what if” thinking would wonder, “What happens if I lose my mind and put my pillow over my grandmother’s face and kill her in her sleep?” Then I’d freak out and wonder what kind of lunatic has these thoughts! Or, if I saw something on the news, I would wonder, “What if I snap like the woman on the news did… and kill my children?” I would catastrophize anything and everything, and obsess about different ways I could save my grandmother or my children, and so on.
I would have “theme” dreams back then, and more than I can count. I would have dreams where a tornado or a whole bunch of tornadoes would be coming towards the house that I was living in. I was never alone, and there was always other people and children in my dreams. Our very lives were at risk, and I would have to figure out some way of saving everyone from death. It’s interesting that no one ever saved me in my dreams. No one ever saved me and the other people in my dreams. There was no one to help but me. I actually remember going door-to-door in one dream, begging people to help, but no one ever came to the door in those dreams. If it had been just me, I wouldn’t have fought so hard, but it was never just me. I had to save other people, too, and that’s what drove me.
Someone said, “You know, I’m not sure about Catherine…she’s either a savior or a psychopath.”
I am one screwed up human being.
And today…maybe not tomorrow, but for the last 7 years, I haven’t had one PTSD episode or panic attack.
Today, I ate a subway sandwich. I am soooo grateful (insert teary eyes…geezuz)!
I know I can be overwhelming. I just believe. I hope. I have faith that maybe if I explain to the Maine community (where predators can hear me) how devastating and far-reaching the effects of child sexual abuse are, then maybe the predators will be willing to “cease fire.” Maybe the silent partners will speak up. Maybe others girls or boys won’t have to suffer like I have.|
That’s it. I just want children to be safe. I don’t need anything for myself. I’m not doing this for any other reason than to to save kids and pay God back for the peace and wonderful life I get to have today.
So, for the next time you wonder what my agenda is or who I think I am, I’m paying the universe back, totally bat shit crazy, but kind and funny.