One of the greatest ironies I’ve experienced since coming off of Zoloft is that my first week with no meds was quite possibly the shittiest and most stressful week I’ve had in years. Kind of a trial by fire, I suppose.
It started with car problems. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically what started as a bad engine sound ended up costing us $1500 for a car that was unfixable to begin with. Paul and I spent the better part of a week stressed out over having one car in the shop while trying to manage two jobs and two kids in locations all over town, to forking over a fortune to fix said car only to find out it was all for nothing and finding a new car we could afford STAT. I was angry at the car dealership, I was stressed about the loss of the money, I was worried about whether we could afford to take on a car payment. But by the end of the week, we had come to terms with the situation, had a car picked out we could afford, and were at peace with things.
On Friday of this Hell Week, I had the bright idea to have a fun night out at our fitness center’s new location, which has a great kids’ pool. After arriving, we sat down to get out of our winter layers. My oldest is 5 and can technically swim, so I let him go on in. We were sitting right behind a small water slide that went into about 2 feet of water, and I watched as he climbed up the ladder to the slide while I struggled to get water wings on a squirming 3-year-old. Two minutes or so later, I see my oldest walking toward me, soaked and gray-faced. There was a woman behind him, fully dressed in very stylish clothes, also soaked. My brain wasn’t computing what I was seeing, and as my son came over and hugged me, I realized. She was wet because she had been in the pool. With my kid. I looked up at her and she said “I jumped in for him. I think he’s ok.” I was so confused. He was in 2 feet of water less than two minutes ago. I was RIGHT HERE and saw him climb up the slide – but what I didn’t see was him swim to the side, get out and go down the BIG slide, which I couldn’t see from my seat. He slid into 5 feet of water and immediately panicked. My baby was drowning and I had no idea. This woman, this mother and HERO, acted immediately and jumped right in, winter boots and all, and saved him.
As this was coming together in my head, another mother who had seen this all happen, walked up and pointed out the woman’s iPhone, which had been in her back pocket. It was soaked. This other woman said “You know you’ll need to replace that,” unhelpfully to me, and I nodded my head, not fully yet understanding the enormity of what had happened. “Yes. Yes, of course. We’ll buy you a new one. Of course.” It was all I could focus on and make sense of. A new iPhone 5. We can’t afford a new iPhone 5 right now. We just blew $1500 on a car … we have to make a car payment soon … This will be at least $500 … That was all I could make sense of. I couldn’t grasp that my child could have died and I missed it. I could grasp a phone.
I could feel the walls closing in on me, but I knew I couldn’t lose it right then. Hell, my kids still wanted to swim! My brain was completely locked up. I was trying to watch both boys from the pool but was so shaken up that just trying to keep eyes on both of them was exhausting. My oldest was of course going nowhere near the deep end and my youngest had on water wings, but I was petrified. And then every few minutes, I would see our Hero Mom, and I would fight back tears. I felt the panic attack welling up, but I held it back with everything I could. Once the boys were in bed that night, I let go. I went to the What-Ifs. I processed the images of my son in the water, and what would have happened had that wonderful woman not been right there, paying attention. My body was overtaken by the events of the day, and the panic attack hit hard and fast. I couldn’t get warm. I was so tensed up and shaking that I couldn’t do anything but bury myself under a mound of blankets in the bed. I cried and cried and fought for air. My husband tried to talk to me but I shut him out. I had to just go through it.
But, I survived it. I knew what was happening and why, and honestly, I think a panic attack was deserved after the week’s insanity. Now, if I start having them because the kids are being wild at the store or because I forgot to set True Detective to DVR, I’ll know there’s a problem. At the end of the day, I have to accept that I have anxiety issues. I am going to have panic attacks. That is my life, and that is ok.