Uncontrollable Confusion shows in the Mirror

I am lost. I am confused. I am sad. I am alone. I am at a loss as to what I am supposed to be doing with my life. How life even goes on when the one you love has died? These seem to be all emotions I cannot control, rather they are out of control or uncontrollable. These emotions hit me when least expected or when one would think they are expected. Sometimes they do not hit me when I would think they would, which leads to more confusion.

It seems that instead of life getting easier as time goes by, it has gotten harder. It may not actually be harder, it may just seem that way. Especially on days that I am feeling sad and confused. I will probably have many days that are sad for now, so I need to find a way to control how I feel and not be confused and sad. I have no special reason for feeling this way today, at least none I can think of. There is always the chance this is an anniversary of some bad news my husband I received but cannot remember, as there were many days we were given bad news. I made it out the front door and did some grocery shopping as once again there is a chance of snow in the south. At least that I am not confused about, I cannot drive in the snow and I have no control over the weather.

Making it out the front door should make me feel as if I have achieved something, even if it is minor. But it did not. It only made me more confused and not in control. I had a hard time getting out the front door, but pushed myself. Once on the road driving, it felt as if every stop sign, street sign or light were telling me to turn around and go back to the safety of my home. I continued on, with a feeling of dread, not panic, just a feeling as though I were not wanting to be out, that something bad was going to happen. I made sure to go to the two stores I had planned to and when one did not have what I needed I even drove out of my way to another store. Driving home, I noticed the gas tank was half full, ever since my husband had been ill I try to keep the tank full. So, even with the dreadful feeling, I stopped to get gas. This really should have felt like an accomplishment. That I pushed myself to do normal things when I did not feel normal at all. It did not make me feel any better. My guess would be I was not really ready to go out today so that anything I might normally have considered an accomplishment did not feel like one.

I have always been controlling. At least over what I can control. I cannot control panic attacks, but I have learned to manage them. I cannot control whether someone lives or dies, but I have always known that, it is only now harder to accept. There are many things I cannot control, but there are more things I can. By controlling the way I live my life, I can in some ways control the panic, control the circumstances that bring it. But I am talking about a different control in my life. It is more far-reaching and hard to explain. It is this control that is uncontrollable. I do not understand why, but with each day I find myself being further away from the controlled. This is causing confusion. I have been controlling my whole life. To suddenly not be able to control without any reason is where the confusion comes into play. I wondered if I am examining my past too much that it is leading to this feeling, but do not think that is the problem. I need to go through my past in order to be in the present and move towards the future. I think these feelings are coming from something else, but do not know what, that even if my husband were still alive I would be having some of these feelings. Not all of course, just some.

On days when I am sad, such as today I wonder if I will spend the rest of my life grieving. Yes, I used the word grieving, not mourning. I do not like the word and it does not really explain how I feel, but today it seems more fitting. As I mentioned it sounds pitiful, today I felt pitiful. I miss my husband. He will never be back. I have to live with this. I do not know how. I am trying to find out how, but so far, I only feel more alone with each passing day. I know the call from the hospice counselor last week set off new emotions of despair and loneliness. I need to get over these feeling. I need to regain control of my life, as much of it as I can. I need to stop being confused, at least as much as possible. I need to give myself permission to be okay with the fact that I am confused and uncontrollable at times. I also need to be sure that I do not stay in a state of confusion, that though I allow myself to feel that way, I try to get to exactly what is causing it. If I can control it, then I need to. If I cannot control it, I need to find a way to live with it in a calm, accepting way. I have my work cut out for myself. I only hope I am up to doing the work.


Days, Daze and Mirrors

I did not accomplish much if anything today. It is just one more day that has gone by in a daze. Or maybe it should be haze. I am not sure. I had planned on going out and had a list of a few things I wanted to accomplish. I did not go out or accomplish anything that was planned. While today I had an excuse to seem to walk around in a daze, most days it is just my panic or fear of panic that stops me from accomplishing anything.

I have started sleeping on the couch for part of the night. One of the reasons is I cannot fall asleep in bed, but am able to on the couch. The other reason is my pet that is dying becomes upset when I leave the room. He starts crying and knocking things over. Knocking things over is not new to him, he only does this if I am in another room and wants or needs attention. He knows the sounds he makes will bring me back to the living room. I know his time left is limited so I start my night of sleep on the couch. The couch is not comfortable so I normally wake up and move to my bedroom and bed to get more sleep. My pet normally is happy I spent part of the night in the same room and rarely makes sounds of complaint when he hears me get up to move to the bedroom.

Today when I woke in my bed I really did not feel like getting up. This is not new. Many days I will lay there for hours before finally getting up and taking a shower. I normally get out of bed when I wake and go to the kitchen to get my pet a snack before returning to bed. This morning I walked over to wear he was sleeping and he looked like he had died. I have been dreading this. But after minutes of staring at him to see if he were breathing he opened his eyes and saw me. He jumped, surprised that I was there. Then he went to move. His back legs were dragging, he was having a hard time walking. I have seen this many times before with pets when they were minutes to hours, though sometimes a day or two away for death. I went to the kitchen and got one of his favorite snacks, went back to where he was, he did not take the snack. This seemed like another sign he was close to death. I wondered if I should just pick him up and hold him until his last breath or if I had time to take a shower and then return to pick him up.

I decided to shower first. When I returned to the living room he was in the same place and same position. He looked at me sadly but with his nose pointed towards the kitchen. I got him another treat. This time he ate it. I tried to pick him up, but he moved away from me, he was not ready to be held. I sat on the couch in a daze. I wondered how long he had left. I thought of my husband and his death. I sat and stared at the TV without seeing it. Eventually my pet wanted to be held. I gave him his IV’s for pain. I brought him to the front door, he looked outside longingly, as though he wanted to be outside, young again. It was cold today so I did not want to bring him outdoors. After a few moments he looked at the couch. So I sat back down holding him. He has lost even more weight and is very bony. When I first sat down, his eyes looked tired as though he had lived hundreds of years and was weary. He was also making crying sounds. As the medicine kicked in the crying stopped.  After a few minutes he became active again. So active I was afraid I would drop him so I put him back down. Where he got comfortable and stared up at me.

For the rest of the day and even now as I type this he is looking at me. He gets up and eats a little, but not enough to sustain life. I have to be careful what I give him as the wrong thing could kill him. Of all the foods I have here for him, he likes only a few. He likes more of what I have but it has become hard for him to eat them. It does not seem to be his teeth that stop him from eating them. Rather it appears as though he has either gotten tired of them and no longer wants them or he is having a hard time swallowing them. My plans to go out were put on the back-burner as I wanted to be here for him.being

As I mentioned earlier, today I had a valid excuse not to go out. I know some would have gone out if their pet were dying, but that is not who I am. I am not passing judgement on those who go about their daily routine with a pet dying. If I had somewhere I had to be, I would have had to go out and leave him alone. But I had nowhere that I had to go today that could not be put off until tomorrow or when the time is right. Though I had a valid excuse it does not stop me from feeling as though one more day has gone by in my life and I have not lived it. Days go by, one after another, with each one I find a way not to live my life. Am I just in a daze because of all that has happened and all that is happening are too much for me to handle? Or am I just making excuses to get out of living my life? When I am ready to look in the mirror I hope today does not reflect an excuse, rather a good cause for not going out. Now as the end of the day is arriving I only know that I have spent another day in a daze. I do not want the rest of my life living in a daze. I do forgive myself for today, as my pet should be given respect as death approaches. Forgiving myself for today is a start. Now I just have to deal with my pet as he dies and hopefully start to live my life again afterwards. In days, not daze.

The Mirror is Sad Today

When I was a young child I started to feel as though I did not exist, not real. As though every thing around me were in a dream. I did not know it at the time, but what I was experiencing were panic attacks. I went to my mother to talk to her about the feeling I was having, how I would break into cold sweats when it happened, that I did not feel real. My mother upon hearing of my fears pinched me and said “I see you felt that. You are real, you are not in a dream. Now go on with your life”. I did not realize it until much later, but I think my mother suffered from the same attacks I did. By bringing mine to her attention must have been not only uncomfortable, worrying that I might have inherited her problem and most especially probably cause an attack in her. In her time, people did not talk of these things. I do not think she ever realized that her problem was panic. I could be wrong and she did not have them, but when I think of all her actions, what her eyes looked like when she was acting strange, I come to only one conclusion. That she suffered from the attacks. We never talked of them again after that one time.

When I told my father about these feelings he was more understanding. Maybe because he knew of my mothers possible attacks as well as having seen them in his own mother. But he told me he also experienced the same attacks. It was during the war and he was far from home, fighting to keep our country safe. He told me that when he would get these attacks he would go out of his way to find eggs and potatoes to eat. That the problem came from a deficiency of some vitamin or mineral they possessed he thought. This reassured me. I began to eat potatoes and eggs. The attacks disappeared completely for a few years. When they came back I tried eating more eggs and potatoes, but this time it did not help at all. I began to realize that my father always ate a lot of potatoes, at least 3 times a day, as well as eggs every morning. Was he too fighting of panic? Is panic even passed on from parent to child? I do not have these answers. I also do not know for a fact that either my mother or father suffered from panic attacks. They are no longer alive to ask.

As I write this it brings to mind my mother. I think of my mother after my father died. She had become a widow. I felt as though I were almost an orphan, lost in my own grief, not seeing my mother’s pain. Though I talked with her on the phone we rarely talked of grief, loss or pain. When I saw her which was not often, she always looked to me as though she were lost and afraid, even though she put on a brave face and acted upbeat, happy. I never mentioned it to her or other family members. My husband saw it too and would urge me to call her more often. My mother died nearly ten years after my father. To me, looking from a distance, as I did not live close, she never got over my father’s death. She never managed to get over that hurdle to start a new life, the one she wanted, the one she told me about. Maybe I am wrong and she did, as I said, I was not there. Thinking about my mother’s ten years without my father, makes me very sad for my mother. But also for myself, which seems selfish. I am much younger than my mother was when my father died. If she felt that loss for ten years, I wonder if I will find a way past the sadness and start a new life or if I will suffer the same pain but for a longer period of time.

Myself in a Mirror

Many things are a part of our every day lives. Sometimes we are not aware of the significance of an object. Other times we place too much significance on an object. A mirror is an object. What each of us sees in this object is different. For me, mirrors have always played a minimal part in my life. Now as my life has changed so dramatically, I need to reflect on myself and my life. A mirror would be a good object to reflect upon the past yet also look towards the future. If I am able to help myself though these writings I need to be brutally honest with and about myself. I also hope that if someone is in need of reflection, that my writings might show them they are not alone, maybe they can even help.

I have talked of illness, grief, looks and other things while I have reflected in the mirror of my past. I have told little about myself. So I am going to try to describe myself to some extent. I am focusing on what I consider to be the main issues that have ruled my life for as long as I can remember. This is not easy for me to write about.

I suffer from panic attacks. The doctor calls it an anxiety disorder. In the past I was told I was agoraphobic. At that time I was. Or at least very close to becoming completely overwhelmed with panic. I did not leave the house much. My husband did all the shopping. I rearranged my life to stay out of scenarios that might cause anxiety that would lead to panic. I drove, but rarely, just as much as I had to and even then I would be in a state of panic. Driving is one of the worst parts of the attacks. You never know when they will hit, for me it is common to get them while I am driving. My way of handling that was to smoke. It would keep my hands occupied and my mind, that way there was no time to think of panic or if I started to my focus would be drawn away from panic to the ability to be able to smoke. I have not smoked for 8 years, meaning now when I need help driving, I do not have any. Another thing that is extremely hard with panic, is to walk out the front door with panic awaiting you. Many times I stay home as the thought of panic that might await me is too much for me. I will never win this war with panic, rather I have learned to arrange my life around it. I have learned to manage it. To stop attacks before they become full-blown. Only one or two people know of this and that is because I have told them. I have managed to hide them well. That is a common trait for those with panic attacks, our need to hide them from those around us. We can fool others but we do not fool ourselves.

I am controlling. This is another common trait among people who have panic attacks. The thought of control gives a false sense of security regarding the attacks. Most times, I can control them. In fact I have done very well controlling them in the past few years. But I am not deceived, I know around every corner is something that can send me into panic. In fact panic can come upon for no reason, with no warning, so I know I am not panic free just because I have managed to control how I react to the attacks and my management of what I do to avoid attacks. No one notices if I am in the midst of a severe attack. The controlling part of me has learned to hide the attacks. The only person that has ever been able to tell when I was having one, was my husband. I did not need to tell him. To him, they were obvious. He knew that sometimes he could be of help or at the least be there for me. It was comforting to know he knew of them and also he knew when to try to talk to me to bring me out of an attack or to be quiet and let me figure out how to get out myself.

I want to be a perfectionist. Many would say I am or am close to it. This would be wrong. Once again perfectionists and people who suffer panic disorders go together. Some say the need for perfection causes the attacks. I disagree with that notion. Panic attacks have a life of their own. Trying to be perfect does not cause or lead to attacks in my opinion. The panic causes the need for perfection I think.  It can lead to a sense of failure in some, but I am not negative so I do not feel as if I have failed when I fail to be perfect. Rather, I work harder at trying to be as perfect as I can, hoping it helps with the panic.

I am not an optimist. I am not a pessimist. I am a realist. I do not see the glass half full, I do not see the glass half empty, rather I see a glass that is filled halfway. What I do not see with my own eyes is hard to believe. Faith is hard for me. While many going through hard times turn to religion or prayer, I rarely, if ever do. When my husband was near death I was asked what church we belonged to. I was at a loss. While my husband had faith and was religious he did not go to church often. I spent a lot of time in church in the past, but it was not because I was religious, rather there were things that needed to be done, they just happened to be in a church. I went to services, but did not pay attention. I prayed, but it was mostly because I was feeling panic and it got my mind off the panic. I am not saying I have no faith or religion. Rather being a realist, not being able to see faith or religion, it is hard to believe they exist. I want to believe they exist, but it is hard for me.

As you can see, I am far from perfect. My control is limited. My life is about living around the panic attacks. Many experience panic attacks. Most will only have a few in their lifetime if at all. If you have ever had a real panic attack, you will know it. I am not talking of the passing panic some experience. Though that passing panic is worse in those who have attacks, as we tend to focus on the panic, not the passing of panic. For me, when I have a bad attack, I stop everything I am doing. If I happen to be driving I find a place to pull over. I will pick something up to try to read it. I will not see the words nor will they register in my mind. Rather in doing this, I have to focus on something other than my panic, with time the panic lessens and a feeling of relief sets in. It does not last as I know I could be one breath away from my next attack. But I have found a way to deal with them. What I need to find now, is a way to get out the front door, despite the fear of panic, to start to live my life. Even if only for short periods. Any day I am able to walk out the front door, get in my car and drive somewhere, anywhere, is an achievement for me. Those who do not suffer panic attacks will not understand this. Those who do, may understand in their own way. Some that do not experience panic think it is all in our minds. That is true in two ways, first it is our mind that experiences it and sends signals to our bodies to panic, second, our minds do not function the same with panic, there is some type of chemical disorder most times, though for that the cures are hard to find. My cure is only to work through them. Though it seems impossible to live with, it can be done. If anyone reading this wants to discuss their panic attacks with me, I am always here to listen, possibly offer advice, maybe learn something from you too. Just know if you have had or are having panic attacks you are not alone.