Can’t Breathe

Spring time here in the northwest means pollen of many stripes, plus molds and mildews and a million other things. I suppose this is no different than other places in the world. However, the other day when I had to use the windshield wipers to clear a path on my windshield, I was thinking it must stink to live here if you have allergies. For, example, like my dear Middlest. All I can say is thank all the gods for generic antihistamines.

Every morning in the spring and early summer she is a sniffling, wheezing mess. And then, one allergy pill later, she’s perked up and breathing normally by the time she heads off to school.

Better living through chemicals, right?

I’m tempted to find my own chemical life improver these days myself. If nothing else, a cocktail sounds good right about now. Because I have been served a different sort of cocktail and it isn’t helping adult life much.

Like many folks living with PTSD and depression, I also have anxiety. When I first began experiencing anxiety symptoms, my reaction was, “I am too f@#%ing young to be having a heart attack. Really, universe?” and then I shook my puny fist in the air. Or sobbed in a blanket fort for an hour, whatever. Pretty much the same thing.

Now, of course, I know what it means when I can’t breathe because it feels like there is a hundred pound weight on my chest. The pounding heart beat, the breathing issues, the puffy eyes, and runny nose–just my version of springtime allergies, I suppose. But unlike Middlest, there is no generic antihistamine I can dry-swallow that will make me feel like my normal self by the time the big yellow school bus takes me off to fourth grade. Because this isn’t allergies, and I’m not a fourth grader. (Yes, I know there are medications to help with anxiety and I even have some.)

Instead I’m an adult trying to muddle through these middle years where nothing is turning out how I’d planned. Nothing is as bad as it could be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t making it hard to breathe as I try to figure out what is the right thing to do–right for me, for Mister Soandso, and for Biggest, Middlest, and Littlest.

Back in my teen and young adult years, I figure there were plenty of folks who only saw my highly sanitized and spit-polished facade and figured not only was I one lucky duck, but that everything was going great for me. The world was my oyster and all that. Well, I was a duck alright–feet paddling along a million miles an hour while faking it. A body can spend years in that mode, actually.

But once the lives of others are riding on how well you can paddle, the whole gig gets a lot harder to pull off. And pulling it off while looking like a serenely floating aviary is nary possible somedays. Instead, I’m barely breathing over here.

I’m a Libra, born smack in the middle of October (well, the 17th isn’t quite smack-middle, but close enough). And if one puts any value in horoscopes and such things, I’m a classic Libra who struggles to make up my mind. This isn’t because I’m actually an indecisive person. Its because I’m terrified I will make the wrong choice. That might seem like a goofy response to deciding between Pad Thai and Evil Jungle Prince, but it makes a lot more sense when making major plans that impact one’s family. Especially if there’s those nifty diagnoses of PTSD, depression, and anxiety in one’s file.

So, don’t mind me. I’ll be over here struggling to breathe under the weight of all of life’s decisions while trying to swim madly and look at least a tiny bit normal during the process. But if I start to slip under water, throw me a life preserver will you? I’m not actually a very good swimmer.

* I really am not a good swimmer. I can float pretty well, but that only gets you places if the tide is turning in your favor. I was a great swimmer as a little kid and then I had a very bad experience in the public swimming pool during lessons. Let’s just say that day’s lesson didn’t go very well for me. Then, a few years later, I was jumping rocks in the bog by my house and fell in. That really didn’t go well and it smelled terrible, to boot.

These days, water is something I like much more in a glass and if I absolutely must be in it, I’ll pick warm, clear waters in a vacation locale. Don’t worry; my issues with water aren’t so terrible that I’m not able to bathe myself. I’ll just probably find lots of reasons to not go swimming if I don’t have to…

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3 thoughts on “Can’t Breathe

  1. Yeah, nothing quite like “fun with mental illness”, aye?

    The one I hate is the fight-or-flight panic when in a tight crowd when one is with spouse and offspring and neither response is anywhere near acceptable and might result in Very bad things, like being arrested and or seeing that look on someone you love’s face when your weirdness has just become a very bad thing for them. Again

    Keeping on trying counts as a total win some days. Just something I try to remind myself of when its especially difficult to carry on.

    Thanks for sharing this and remember a lot of folks stand beside you, even if you can’t see us.

  2. Your water issues ring true with me. I once had a therapist tell me that, if I would just stop efforting so much, the Universe would let me float. It’s a hard lesson…but one worth focusing on. Thanks for sharing this stuff with us!

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