Seven years ago on a beautiful day I was sitting in my Jeep, running errands for my boss. I was enjoying a cigarette when all of a sudden my world flipped upside down. Then sideways, then back around. As someone who had never before had a headache I slammed my foot on the brake, turned the air conditioner onto full blast as my body drenched with sweat in what was just a matter of seconds.
It was a massive bout of vertigo that had hit me, luckily I was just blocks from my office and I was able to get back inside. Parking my car and weaving my way back to the front doors was horrific. The world was shaking, the ground was moving violently and I was trying to get to safety as fast as I could.
I barely made it home that day, crawling along the road at 10 miles an hour, on the phone with my mom, terrified that I was dying. Gravity no longer existed and I couldn’t stop the feeling that I was falling.
The next morning I tried to go to work, five minutes into the commute I called my boss, crying and scared I said I didn’t know what was wrong and that I had to go home. I spent the rest of that week holding onto the edge of the bed, throwing up, and screaming. Within five days the vertigo was getting worse, I couldn’t breathe, and I felt like there were tiny little construction men inside of my brain that were taking jack-hammers and digging deep.
I didn’t have medical insurance, I didn’t have a doctor, so I just “toughed” it out and knew that I had to get back to work. By the second week I found a way to get myself to work on back roads that I could drive slowly on and pull off of, I would throw up violently like clockwork, and I started having panic attacks.
I didn’t know what vertigo was, I didn’t know that these were panic attacks. I literally thought that I was dying and I was terrified. I was 21 years old and healthy, I had no clue what could be happening .. so I kept waiting for it to end, or for me to end.
A lot of hurdles along the way, but with the help of a great family, amazing husband, and a terrific doctor – we figured out what had happened.
I had a nervous breakdown. At 21. I was in a relationship at the time that was extremely destructive, he was subtly abusive, sometimes physically, but he said and did just enough things right that I felt like it was my fault. When I found that he had been cheating, I felt like it was my fault. When he threw me into a wall, I felt it was my fault. He was very convincing, and would cajole and apologize with what seemed like sincerity before he would launch into an explanation of why the fault laid with me.
I came from a very loving and fantastic family, but I didn’t feel I could tell them what was happening because I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like the fault was with me, and I had already made such an effort to get them to like him, so I never told them the truth until after I left him. I regret that.
So, seven years later, I have to admit the truth. I’ve survived rapes, physical assaults, and emotional abuse. I have PTSD, a panic disorder, and depression. I can say now, that know I’ve survived the worst of it. It’s time to rebuild. I’m off of all anti-anxiety and anti-depressants. I’m in therapy. I married a terrific man who embodies what caring, consideration, and love are. I survived, but I want to thrive in this life.
I have had to fight to be happy in the past seven years, but I’m in a place now where the happiness is starting to come naturally again. It’s a battle every day, but one day, I’m praying the battle will be over.