Panic Attacks – what happens to me?

Today was going to be a bad day. I knew it was. It was the school Eisteddfod and Ned had been so excited last year, I couldn’t help but imagine how he would have been today. I tortured myself by watching videos of last year’s Eisteddfod and there he was, my little boy, alive on the screen singing and reciting. It took my breath away, but I watched it again and again and again because he was alive in front of my eyes.

When I got to the school this afternoon to pick Tomi up, as soon as I parked and heard the children’s voices drifting from the school hall; songs that Ned sang all the way home last year, it became too much.

When this happens, I have a panic attack. I struggle to breathe. I lose my bearings. I’m not sure what I’m doing. I can’t focus. I can’t respond. I know that this can be frightening for anyone who witnesses it. Today, several parents came to help and I am thankful to each one for showing their kindness and support.

I can start feeling claustrophobic quickly and I apologise if I pulled myself away from your embrace. I cannot deal with my senses being overloaded. I struggle. Sometimes I vomit. I hyperventilate. I sweat and my heart rate quickens.

What I need to do is plant my feet firmly on the ground and try to recover my breathing. I always have a paper bag in my car to stop the hyperventilating.

I suppose I wanted to write this short blog, knowing that some of you who were there today will read it and I wanted to say thank you, and I wanted to help you understand a little of what is happening to me physically when an attack happens.

It’s simply the pain of losing Ned becoming unbearable. It’s the fight leaving me. It’s me not wanting to be anymore. It’s me tired of the daily battle. I don’t want that to frighten anyone, I hope it will help you to understand. Some days are just really bad.

It’s been nearly a year and I’m not ‘better’. Grief isn’t an illness. I will carry it with me forever – it’s in my heart, my bones, my soul. It’s like the ocean – some days can be relatively calm, other days I’m riding rough, stormy waves that threaten to drown me. It’s never still. It ebbs and flows.

So as I saw a #randomactsofkindnessday on Twitter, I thought it apt just to simply say thank you to those who came to help me today. It won’t be the last panic attack I have. But I do come out of them. The worst that can happen from a panic attack is that you pass out, which I have on a handful of occasions.

I’ll end therefore with just a big diolch/thank you to everyone who helpedĀ me and to those I allow close enough who have been with me every step of the way. Diolch o waelod calon.

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Time heals, doesn’t it?

It’s been almost a year since I lost my little boy. So I must be getting better, right? I mean, I get told all the time, once the first year has passed you’ll feel much better. I stare blankly. Better from what? I’m not ill. Well ok, I had appendicitis at the start of the year and I have a lingering chest infection, but surely they’re not talking about that?

Grief isn’t an illness. You can’t ‘get better’. I can’t take a pill to make it better, or have surgery to have it removed. It is a part of me that will never go away. It’s in my heart, in my bones, in my soul. Time doesn’t heal. Whoever said that originally had clearly not experienced grief in any form.

Some who know me may read this and think, ‘Well, she was shopping in town this morning.’ ‘She looks a little pale, a bit bloated, but she’s out and about.’ I’m pale because I can’t sleep. I’m bloated because I take so much medication, even my GP wonders how I’m standing. I’m wandering around town because I can’t face going home and seeing Ned’s empty bedroom.

Then I get asked, ‘Isn’t the medication numbing you? It’s making you put on a lot of weight. Shouldn’t you just be without them so that you can grieve properly and let the healing begin. Start living again.’

I feel like I’m being judged. Yes, the medication is numbing me. It’s numbing me to the point that I’m almost a walking zombie. Am I grieving properly? Not a day passes without I cry and cry. Not a second passes without I think of Ned. Not a day passes without thinking that I don’t want to be anymore because I let my little boy go and he died.

But I have two other little boys. I would never want them to suffer the pain I feel day after day after day. They’ve lost a brother. They certainly couldn’t cope with losing their mam too. So for those pondering as to whether the pills are stopping me from grieving, no they’re not. They don’t touch the grief. They are repressing my pre-existing depression and anxiety a little. But most importantly, they’re making me get out of bed and battle through each day for my boys.

As to the starting to live again. I exist. I’m breathing. That’s all I ask for. I am being mam to my two boys, because the medication allows me to be. I know there’ll be someone reading this who will be against taking medication … believe me I’ve had offers of massage, Reiki, mindfulness … they’ve all been thrown at me, but not one of the people offering such ‘healing processes’ have lost a child. I don’t mock these processes or doubt that they are a godsend for some. They’re just not the right offerings for me. I cannot be healed. I will forever have a broken heart that cannot be mended.

I don’t seek pity. Believe me, seeing pity on someone’s face when they look at me hurts. My aim with my blog is to have people understand. Have people understand that everyone’s grief is an individual journey and I am sharing mine, because you can’t seeĀ the emptiness inside me and the gnawing guilt that I wasn’t with my little boy when he was so badly hurt; when he battled for over an hour to survive … I wasn’t there. And I should have been. I should have been holding his hand, telling him that mam was there and that I loved him to the moon and back a million times. I should have died, not my innocent five year old healthy little boy, who was so powerless to his fate as he sat in the back of that car. I shouldn’t have let him go.

That is what isn’t visible behind the glazed eyes and the sometimes slurred speech. This is what lies beneath the emotionless exterior. This is what hides behind the smiling face my two boys see. I have suffered the greatest loss. So please, don’t judge me for taking medication because today I have battled another day. I am surviving. And as to getting better? I will never be ‘better’. I will live with my grief for as long as I’m alive.