Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looking for a Light at the End of this Tunnel

I'm struggling not to succumb to feeling sorry for myself.  I've always been able to take responsibility for my role in the things that "happen to me."  I know my therapist would say I take far too much responsibility.  It's one of the reasons I feel like weight of the world is on my shoulders.  I feel like I should be capable of making my world work.  I used to be able to make my world work.

 Unfortunately, the more I talk about the things I've dealt with in the past few years (and longer, in some instances), the more I realize that a lot of it really is as awful as I've come to view it, and much of it is outside of my control.  Of course I have played a part in the things that have transpired in my life, whether intentionally, unintentionally, or as a result of my mental illness, but it just doesn't seem fair and I find this a very unhealthy and completely unhelpful place to be stuck.  I simply can't move forward if I see the world as absolute chaos that seems inherently skewed against my favor.

I spent some time with these thoughts this weekend.  I had an experience that thrust me well into "why me?".  Friday night, as I slept on the floor of the nursery with my two sick children, I awoke to the vibration of my phone ringing.  I'm an incredibly light sleeper.  I picked up my phone and saw a local cell phone number that I didn't recognize and that it was 1:57 a.m.  No message.  My phone rang again at 1:59.  This time there was a message...no speaking, just what sounded like wind in the background.  Now, I'll acknowledge that weird phone calls in the middle of the night set a lot of people on edge.  What if there is some sort of emergency?  Sadly, as the night wore on, I went from rational questions like this, that I think would be quickly put to rest when no one left a comprehensible message, to the completely irrational considerations that have become the mark of my anxiety.

Because I was awake and a little shaken by the two calls and strange "voicemail," I decided to read.  It's one of the few things that can focus my mind well enough away from whatever thoughts creep into my head when I'm trying to sleep.  I read for a few minutes before, at 2:06 a.m., the phone rang again.  Same number.  This time, because I was holding the phone, I declined the call.  My phone instantly began to ring again.  I declined again, and it rang again . . . nine times in immediate succession.  That is eleven telephone calls in fifteen minutes.  The last call came in at 2:12 and I laid in the dark room contemplating what this could be about.  After some time, I checked the five messages that were left.  Again, the sound of wind in the background.  No voice.  No words.  No explanation, except those I was starting to come up with in my own head.  I used some relaxation techniques to try and calm down (because I didn't want to touch my phone again, even to read).  I had sixteen minutes with my thoughts before the phone rang again at 2:28.  Another message  Sometime in the next hour, I drifted back into sleep.  At 3:38, I woke again to the sound of my phone vibrating.  In the next ten minutes, I got calls at 3:41, 3:41, 3:42, 3:45, 3:45, 3:46 and 3:48.  They came with another four messages, but by now, I was too afraid to listen to them, knowing I would find only the sound of the world outside, without explanation for this intrusion on my peace of mind.  (I did eventually listen to them as the sun rose when I had a little less fear about the unknown because it was no longer dark.)

My mind drifted from one possible, terrifying scenario to the next.  I started with rational things like a wrong number, but after ten messages, whoever was calling knew that the number belonged to me and not whomever they might be attempting to reach.  I considered a pocket dial, but that just doesn't happen twenty times, much less in rapid succession after declining the call.  I wondered if someone was hurt, but why no message?  The next set of thoughts revolved around loved ones and emergencies, somewhere just beyond rational.  Had my sister been abducted and she was trying to reach me in secret?  Was it about my parents who are traveling?  Is someone after my children?

The spiral into complete panic came next, and quickly.  I was convinced that someone was outside my home, that the wind I could hear was the same breeze that was blowing through my children's open window.  I closed and locked the window in the dark, while trying not to disturb the curtains.  I was afraid to turn on the light to alert whomever was outside to the fact that I was up.  I couldn't remember if the patio door was locked, but I was too scared to walk through the house to the kitchen because my presence would be exposed by the curtainless windows in the office.  I wasn't sure whether I believed "they" were after me or my family, but I was terrified to leave my children in the room alone.  At one point, my daughter woke and asked to sleep in my room.  The terror I was sure was lurking outside weighed on me when I refused.  I didn't want the kids away from me.  I didn't want them split up and thereby vulnerable.  I cried myself back to sleep and mercifully, there were no more calls.

Saturday, I couldn't sleep because I was waiting for it to start again, still certain, in some irrational part of my otherwise mostly functioning mind, that it was an intentional "attack," either to actually harm me or just to completely terrify me.  Thankfully, I haven't received any more calls from numbers I don't recognize.  Unfortunately for my imagination, I also haven't any explanation.  In the light of day, I know the conclusion that someone was outside my house either to get me or to scare me isn't reasonable, but there is still a part of me that is thankful when my children wake up night after night so that I can hold them near me in the scary dark.  Perhaps the worst part about all of this is that I'm struggling to convince myself that this isn't related to something or someone I've wronged, that the harm is intended toward my children to make me "pay" for what I might have done, and that it's simply not real because it hasn't happened again.  I can't shake the nagging feelings, the fear.

I've had some incredible nightmares since Friday.  I haven't slept soundly, but when my kids are in my bed or I am in theirs.  I don't feel safe when they are not with me.  I'm a bit paranoid about even posting this, but this blog is one of few places where I feel like I take back some strength and stand my own two feet.  Here, I'm not hiding in a dark room, I'm flinging the door wide open, lights blazing and admitting exactly what I feel, even though it's terrifying.  I don't feel strong, but I know that saying these things "out loud" makes me stronger and I believe if I continue moving on one direction, I will begin to see a light at the end of this tunnel.

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