Deep Breaths and Fresh Air

If you have ever had a panic attack, you know how big or small the trigger can be. Something big like a death of a loved one, but even something as small as a spider on the wall.

Recently, I had one and it was a big one. Big panic attack from a small situation. 

I was in my therapy group and every day I sit at the end of the table so that I won’t be in between two people. I was doing fine until a man in a wheelchair came and sat next to me at the end of the table.

I don’t mind sitting next to anyone, but I have to be on the end. I have to. Otherwise, I have a panic attack.

So I was sitting there, trying not to pay attention, but then he started pacing back and forth in his wheelchair right next to me. 

That’s when it started happening. I started breathing hard and it got to where I couldn’t breathe. I spiraled into an attack.

Before you keep reading, I want you to say what you would do in my situation.

Okay, did you say “deep breaths” or “fresh air”? If so, you’re right. Although there are many ways to calm yourself down during a panic attack, those are the main two that I did. 

After that, I went to the bathroom to wash my face and tell myself, in the mirror, that I was okay. There was no danger. I was okay.

When I have a panic attack, my entire body goes numb. I breathe hard and I cry hard. After it passes, my bones hurt to their core and I have pain in my bones for 2-3 days after the attack.

It helps that there is always someone there to help out, even if it’s just getting me some ice water (thanks, Megan!). Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Panic attacks can be small or huge, even emergency room huge.

Now it’s your turn. Tweet me at @ali_vercher and tell me about the last panic attack you had. We’ll talk about it and it’ll help me understand others’ perspective during a panic attack.

Beacon of Hope

On January 4, 2017, I went to a mental facility…again. 

I learned new coping skills and met some troubled but great people.

For the first three days or so, I was angry at my therapist for making me go. I had been feeling very depressed for a couple weeks before, and had even asked my mom to bring me to the hospital. The Prozac had stopped working, and I was in bad shape. I tried my hardest to get through it, but it was just too much.

I didn’t try to kill myself, but I wanted to.

There were situations that I was in that were truly getting to me mentally, and I just couldn’t handle them. My best friend and I stopped talking, my sister and nieces moved away to Texas, and the holiday blues were setting in.

Mentally, I was a train wreck. Every little thing was getting to me, whether or not I showed it. I got through the holidays, but I was still broken.

On January 3, I met with my new therapist, and I told her I wanted to die. She immediately told me that I had to go to the emergency room to get checked into a mental hospital.

I went, and on January 4, I was driven to Beacon Behavioral Hospital in Bunkie, LA and it was my home for the next six days. I hated it there at first. I would call my mom crying that I wanted out immediately. There was nothing she could do. So I stayed. I had to.

I was discharged on the 10th of January, and the next day, I started going to group therapy in Alexandria, LA. This was my second time in group therapy. The first time didn’t go so well, but I like this group. There are too many people at times, which leads to me almost having panic attacks. So far so good though.

The people are so sweet to everyone and to me. I’m on new medicine and I’m feeling great.

Please know that it’s okay to ask for help. Be honest with yourself. Going to a mental hospital is nothing to be ashamed of.

You are worthy of help.

Holiday Blues

The holidays can be difficult, but especially if you have a mental illness. 

For me, I struggle with panic attacks when I’m around a big crowd of people. I had one last Christmas and had to isolate myself. It was humiliating. When everyone left, I was fine. I hate that! I hate that I didn’t spend time with my family but even more, I hate that I couldn’t control my emotions.

This year in therapy, I’ve been working on ways to get through the holidays. I put it to work on Thanksgiving this year, and it did work! Christmas will be the ultimate challenge, though, because a lot more people will be at my house. 

What are some ways that you cope with the holidays? Let’s discuss on Facebook or Twitter!
(PS… I know these last couple of months have been not the best of posts, but that’s because the holidays stress me out. That’s why I wanted to talk a little bit about it this month. 2017 will be back to my regular self.)

Stickers

I found my old journal that I wrote lyrics in when I was in high school. It’s full of old songs and thoughts, and the poem below really stuck out to me.

I think it perfectly describes what someone with depression, anxiety, and anything else is going through. 

It’s difficult to recognize who you really are when you’re depressed. It’s something we have to deal with daily. But that doesn’t mean give up. It means hold on longer, hold on tighter, hold on with everything you’ve got. You’ll make a comeback; I know it.

The poem is called Stickers. I wrote it on July 8, 2008.
One at a time

Added as the days go by

No one seems to notice

Just how their words can stick on others

As time seems to escape me

I glance in the mirror and can’t truly see myself

Labels covering me, smothering me

I’m at the point

I don’t even know who I am anymore

Letters In A Balloon, part one

I saw angels the other day

I looked at them like it was yesterday.

They walked near me, and I felt their love,

and they told me that you are up above.

No more pain, no more tears,

but I wish that you were here.
The moment I knew you were gone

I started to write down for you a song

“Be strong” I told you every day

I wish that I knew what you would say.
I love you my angel, and I’ll see you soon.

I’ll send you a letter in a balloon.

As it travels through the stratosphere, I want you to know

that I always loved you, but I know you had to go.
The pain was too much for you to bear

but I have and always, about you I care.

I know that you’re happy now, my friend,

but don’t let this letter be the end.

Open Letter To Those Who Bullied Me

Remember me?

The shy girl.

You pushed me around, pulled my hair, threw paper balls at me, mocked me, pulled at my belt loops, blamed me for things that you did because you knew I wouldn’t speak up for myself, called me names behind my back, started rumors about me…

I’m still here. I’m talking now, and I need to tell all of you one thing:

I forgive you.

Why? Because you made me strong.

I wouldn’t know what strength it took to get me through those days had you not bullied me. I’m not condoning what you did, and I never will.

I know you must have bullied me because you were so insecure of yourself… Right? I didn’t do anything to you, so the problem was definitely you. So I forgive you.

I hope you’re well, and I hope your life is all you wanted it to be. Mine’s not. I battle with major depression and extreme anxiety. The same anxiety that you used to bully me for.

To the people that bullied me at jobs, you are childish, but I forgive you. I learned a lot from you. I learned not to trust anyone. Because of you, I only trust one person in my life.

I have just enough strength now to realize  that trusting people is not on my agenda for my life.

Why do I forgive you? Because I want to be forgiven. Not by you, but by God. I’m tired of resting on these thoughts that maybe I did something to deserve all the ridicule. I didn’t do anything. I did nothing to deserve what you did to me.

Stop bullying others now that I’m out of the picture! 

What goes through your mind when you bully people? Is it a sense of happiness, regret, insecurity? You made me feel like dirt on the ground… But yet I forgive you.

Thank you for making me stronger, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. 

I hope it was all worth it for you…

White Knuckles

Holding on is difficult to do. You don’t know what the future holds, so while you live your life, you’re holding on tight. Am I right?

White knuckle: showing, experiencing, or causing very strong feelings of fear, anxiety, etc.

But why do we hold on so tight and so long? I ask myself that question every day. But I know the answer. It’s because people apparently need me. I don’t feel that way, but they sure do.

And your people need you, too.

I’ve been binge watching Grey’s Anatomy lately, and I love the phrase they use when they describe the person who means the most to them. “You’re my person.” I love it.

We, as soldiers in the war of mental illnesses, might not feel like we are anyone’s person, but we are. And because you’re somebody’s person, that tiny voice in the back of your head is saying, “Hold on. Hold on tight. Your person needs you.”

To that person, you mean the world to them. And I’m 100% sure they mean the world to you.

Suicide is not selfish. Suicide, in my own definition, is holding on so long you just couldn’t hold on longer. Things got messed up bad, people were cruel, the demon in your head told you weren’t good enough.

But here’s the thing: that stupid demon in your head is nothing! Push it away!! You’re holding on for a reason, and your reason may be different than mine, but at least we’re holding on.

I can tell you, life sucks. But if you just spend your time with your person, and that person makes you laugh, or even listens to you when you vent, and hugs you when you cry, then maybe holding on is the right thing to do.

Keep holding on. You’ve conquered so many battles so far, so you know you can do it again.

Tell your person you love them. Feel them hug you. Know that despite the war going on, your victory is just beyond the horizon.