(This past week marked the one year anniversary of my admission to a local Psychiatric Hospital due to the sudden onset of severe panic attacks. I took this picture of the outside when I went back this week for a routine appointment. You can read more about my journey by clicking on the anxiety tab under Topics.)
Sometimes we must talk about darkness in order to better talk about light. – Kelly Chripczuk
Palpable fear, fog descending on the brain, blood pressure slipping and
sliding while the extremities go weak.
Dizziness, anxiety and an unbearable desire to flee.
This is what I felt this past Friday morning walking into the lobby of
the Behavioral Health Unit where I was hospitalized last summer. I was there for a routine Psychiatrist appointment.
I wasn’t feeling well. Tired and stressed from a long week of
classes, I had a brief dizzy
spell in the morning. I wondered if
something was off with my blood pressure – it can tend to run low.
As I drove, I thought about asking the
psychiatrist to check my blood pressure. She’s a medical doctor after all and, at the
least, she could call in a nurse. I
pictured myself in her office, with that black cuff around my arm.
What if they sent me to the ER?
The same ER where I waited for almost twenty hours last year before admission.
What if going to the ER caused me to panic? What if I couldn’t stop
I spent the whole thirty minute ride to the hospital psyching myself
out. By the time I got there, I was
jacked up on anxiety.
After parking, I pulled out my phone and took a few quick pictures of the “courtyard” – a small fenced in area where supervised low-risk patients could take a
breath of fresh air in the afternoon and evening.
Entering the building through double glass doors, I crossed the dim, brown interior. Facing the receptionists’ large cubicle, I
worked hard to force words out of my mouth in a
stream that seemed natural. I wanted to
run back out into the sunny blue day.
Instead I sat and waited a good twenty minutes. I picked up a magazine and read fluff
articles about combating clutter while talking myself down.
On the drive home I was physically sick. I kept an eye on the shoulder looking for
places to pull over and vomit. A
headache formed behind my right eye and stretched its way down into my neck and
shoulders. Thirty minutes later I ran
into our empty house and knelt on the floor dry-heaving into the downstairs
toilet. My kids were still out picking
berries with a friend. The dog looked
curiously at me.
When the nausea passed I took some Ibuprophen and sorted laundry,
placing the kids’ new school clothes on clean white hangers. Exhaustion hung around me like a shroud,
sleep was all I could think of, but I was scared to sit down, scared to lay
down, afraid anxiety would pull me under.
Finally I walked out the back door and into the yard. The grass here is brown in patches, scratchy
like straw, starving for rain. I sat down
on a little slope facing toward the garden and flowerbed. The dog flopped down beside me, panting and
squinting in the sun.
I leaned back onto the ground, my arms outstretched on either side,
palms down into the grass. The grass
pricking my hands reminded me of the summer before, when I stretched out in the
grass in the fenced in hospital yard.
“Thank you,” I said, aloud. The
words sprang unbidden from my lips, pure, like water from a deep, cold spring.
I was home and the earth was solid and the sunshine warm. No one was there to hear me. But I’d like to think the dog and the browning grass and sunflowers
nearby nodded their heads ever so slightly in agreement.
(Friday was the worst day I’ve had in a long time, but I’m happy to say it’s passed and after some good rest, I’m feeling much better.)
* * *
Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.
What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?
That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.
You’re invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder. Don’t worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right – you’re welcome to come as you are.
While you’re here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.