Learning To Be Me Again

Learning To Be Me Again

by Morgan Groom

 June 2020. I had a seizure. I know I did. What else could it have been? Mayo Clinic symptom checker said that’s what it was so that’s what it has to be. I came to work like any other day. My lumber and building materials inside sales position. It was fine. Not the top job on my list of careers but it pays the bills. I sat down at my computer...3 computers I guess I should say, and logged in. My position requires me to assist customers via phone. ALL. Day. I must say, it can be draining at times constantly answering a ringing phone, but this is my job and I need to be grateful for it right? It was late morning and I answered a call per usual. The customer wanted some pricing on our ever so praised Trex outdoor decking line. I opened my pricing binder and then it hit me. I felt a rush in my head, my vision went blurry, my hands began to shake uncontrollably, my heart sank and my heart rate skyrocketed. I completely lost track of what I was doing. I couldn’t concentrate on the price sheet any more. My mind was just trying to figure out a way to flee the situation. But I was assisting a customer, I can't just hang up. Quickly, tell them a price, any price, and get off the line. So I did. I have no idea how the call ended to this day, but all I know is that this conversation could not go on or I was probably going to die. I hung up immediately and I rushed out of my seat. I felt as though everything around me was a blur, spinning in front of my eyes, dizzy. Am I going to pass out? Is this the end right here? I have so much life left to live. This can’t be it. It can’t be. I rushed to the bathroom and sat down. My symptoms start to halt. But the aftershock of what happened stayed. I was frazzled. Lunch came and I knew I had to shake off what happened. I went for a walk while scrolling the dreaded….Dr. Google. Putting in every symptom I could remember- Seizure, Anemia, Lupus, Brain Aneurysm? Which one is it Google c'mon. I need an answer. My brain finally landed on seizure. It matched the best. The next day I was feeling better. Maybe it was just a fluke. One little seizure is fine? I just hope it doesn’t happen again. Days go on and everything seems back to normal. Mind you the ever so deadly Covid is ramping up. It’s in the US and people are scared. I’m a little nervous. Not over the top though. I’m young and healthy. I guess I think at least? Other than the seizure I had last week. But I’m not scared to do things. I want to follow protocol. I was with a friend the week prior. We hung out and chatted and I drove her home. No Biggy. Well give me a couple days.. Here is a story inside itself. (DOCUMENTED AT TIME OF HAVING CORONAVIRUS- June 2020) My time with Corona: June 23, 2020 I Went to work like any normal day. I Felt great the whole time but towards the end of the day I got a tickle in my throat. Almost as if there were dust in the back. Nothing that would make me be alarmed at all. That night I got home that night and felt fine. I went to the gym and came home and ate. Once I went to lay down for bed it was like that muscle ache that you get when you have the flu. I felt fine but the body ached. During the night I woke up shaking. Shaking aggressively. I was so cold and I couldn’t warm up. June 24 I woke up and my body hurt bad. I took some ibuprofen to ease the ache and went to work. I was worried. I didn’t know what to do. I lived alone and I get in my head a lot. The day itself went fine but I needed the ibuprofen to keep me going. Then I went to the bathroom. Diarrhea bad. That’s when I knew something was really wrong. That night Still achy and still diarrhea. Ibuprofen to take the edge off. June 25 Symptoms persisted. I had a weird drop in my head where my heart started pounding and my hands started shaking. It was like I was having a panic attack? It was so scary. It lasted for a few minutes where I had to constantly remind myself that I’m okay and that I need to settle down. June 26 Woke up and the achy mess was gone. I was feeling pretty good. Maybe this was all just a 24 hour flue thing? Then I coughed. Very deep cough. It feels like it’s just running through your whole upper body. Phlegm came up with the cough. Super sticky round balls of green goo. This isn’t good. Diarrhea persisted I Stayed home that weekend where the phlegm got worse and the itchy eyes came on. NEVER had I had itchier eyes in my life. I couldn’t stop. I tried to go for a short walk that Sunday and the heat was INTENSE. Halfway into the walk I felt weird. It was like my brain was hazy. I went home and laid down for the rest of the night. I still had diarrhea and the phlegm was still bad.

The next week I lost my taste and smell for a few days. I would wake up in a panic at night and deep breathe as if I were gasping for air. Phlegm and diarrhea persisted. I was losing a lot of weight fast. I had another “attack” that next Saturday and that Saturday night. After that my brain stayed in a fog. I was on high alert and always felt like I was just going to drop over and die. Monday came, July 6th and that was one of the worst. I couldn’t get up without feeling out of whack. I was running into the furniture and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. My legs would twitch on their own and I thought I was going crazy. I would pace the room with an ice pack on my head contemplating calling 911 because I just felt like I could fall over any second and pass out. I could crack my chest every ten minutes by pushing it forward. Something that really concerned me. I started doing meditation to try to take my mind off it. I wasn’t showing symptoms by the end of that week and I was going to go to Denver but the fog didn’t go away. On my way there I had to to pick up my friend Tory. I had a few of the brain drops again and contemplated just going to the hospital. I would panic and feel cold rushes through my insides sitting there driving. My heart would race and I wouldn’t know how to stop it...I was hazy (END DOCUMENTATION) A week or so later I had my annual doctor's appointment. I told her about what had happened and it was confirmed that I did indeed have Covid after taking an antibody test. She was concerned about my health and mental health and put me back on Lexapro (mind you I had taken in the past for minor anxiety that I experienced through college). I think like 10 milligrams or so? It's a miracle yet a frustration when the medication starts to work. How could I have been so stupid to think that something was actually wrong with me. How could I have thought I had every other disease BUT anxiety. After a few months I was feeling like myself again. Thank you Lexapro!! You saved me and I don't need you anymore. I'm back to Morgan….I stopped taking my medication. I read that to stop I had to taper. I tapered for a week. I was too antsy to not need the medication anymore. I was ready to move on from this haunting chapter of my life. Welp, give me about 2..maybe 3 weeks? Something like that, without the medication. I was a wreck. I would wake up thinking my heart wasn't beating. That would instantly send alarms to my brain to panic. I couldn't shake anything. Every second of every day I would think I was going to fall over dead. I would call my mom crying in the morning telling her there is no way I was going to make it through the workday. I was scared of everything and anything happening to myself and I had no control over how my brain was handling it. I would spend a good ¾ of my work day Googling any new symptom that came about. Knowing damn well it was probably anxiety and panic, my head didn't want to believe that. My brain wanted me to think that I had a disease. Something IS wrong with me. No one has found it yet. I spent hours in my bed watching YouTube videos of people with MS and their symptoms. I would research Brain Aneurysms until I knew almost as much as the doctors could probably tell you. That one was my scariest disease I had thought I had. I once heard a story of a girl who dropped dead due to a ruptured aneurysm so that is something that can probably happen to me too. Even though there is only a 1 percent chance of that ever happening in my life…it's still a chance and it could happen at any second. I must keep on the lookout.

Everything was so intense again. I was able to make an emergency Dr. appointment via telephone. I was scolded for stopping my medication and was prescribed 20 milligrams of Lexapro. The max dose. I was then given Ativan to use until the Lexapro started working again. Once again I wondered why I stopped. The medication started working and I felt AMAZING. Morgan was back….AGAIN! I was assured I would not stop ever again. I cannot keep letting myself go through this hell. I lived in pure bliss, free of almost all intense anxiety for a year. I was feeling invincible by about month 13. I decided it was time to try again, but I wasn't going to mess up this time. I wanted to taper off with the help of my doctor. She gave me instructions and I followed to a T. I did exactly what she told me and for about a month I was still feeling great! This is what it's like. This is what pre 2020 Morgan was. She was just fine. April 2022. It's been a little over a month without any aid for my anxiety and panic. It's time to go to Beer Wine and Cheese Fest! Something I was looking forward to for a while. Getting together with my cousin and her boyfriend always fills my heart with joy. There is no reason anything can be of bother. After maybe 3 drinks I look at my apple watch and my heart rate is at 100. Woa I think. That's kind of high. Why is that happening? It must be because of the alcohol or something. Quick, find a spot to Google that and see if that is the case. Okay alcohol can cause an increased heart rate good. Okay well not that much though. Why is this so high, OMG it's at 102bpm. That's out of normal range!! What's going on? This is not good, ugh. What is wrong with me now! I came home that night frustrated and checking my apple watch every 5 minutes to make sure my heart rate was average again. This instance started my biggest downfall yet. I am now 26. On my own insurance and starting to see a new physician here in La Crosse, WI. I go for my annual check up and take the ever so fun mental health test. Of course with my mishap and worry I score some anxiety points for myself. I told her about my past and she wanted to get me back started on the Lexapro. Just 5 milligrams. See if that takes the edge off for you. A week later I wake up to start my day. Here we go again. My brain doesn't think my heart is beating. I leap out of bed and immediately start pacing the room. My hands are shaking, my heart is pounding. I start to cry. I cry hard, long, and intense. I cannot do this again. Please make it stop. Adrenaline often courses through my body when I have panic attacks. Something I have kind of come to terms with having. It's like you're constantly jumping off a cliff...free falling down to the ground. That instant drop. That's what it feels like. But it hangs on. I call into work. I can't come in today. I call the family medicine office and it's a miracle that there was an appointment available that day. 9:30 AM. I don't know if I can make it that long. I lay in a ball on the couch and cry, pace the living room a few more times, until FINALLY. It's time to go in. I go to see my doctor and we chat, I tell her I need help, she gives me Buspar to help until the Lexapro does its job. This medication ( Lexapro) can take months to start working. She then encouraged me to start therapy too. She gave me a list of therapists in the area and sent me on my merry way. I got home and felt empty. It was the first time I really felt hopeless. Why did I do this to myself again. How could I be so mean to myself. I took the Buspar and hoped for the best. That evening I was like okay I feel a little better. At this point though, I cannot tell when my head is telling the truth. I have been in constant battle with my mind for almost 3 years now. I gained the courage to go to work the next day. I somehow made it through the rest of the week. But let me tell you. It wasn't easy. Nothing was easy for me anymore. This stupid Lexapro isn't working anymore. I've started and stopped it too many times. I ruined it for myself. I get through the weekend and Monday comes again. Work time. I was extra anxious today, why? At this point idk. Adrenaline has been coursing through my body ALL day. I've contemplated leaving and going to the hospital every second. Work ended and I thought that would help. I made it to my car and started screaming. I was upset. The adrenaline wasn't stopping. I was scared of my own blinking at this point. I called my mom absolutely a mess. She guided me to pull over to the nearest exit on the road and get out of the car. I was in no shape to drive like this. She did everything in her power to calm me down. She encouraged me to take a walk where I was so I did just that. Little kids were staring at me bawling as they got off the bus. I went back to the car after my walk and I told her I couldn't take it anymore. I needed to go to the ER. I need someone to make this stop. I can't live like this. You aren't thinking of harming yourself are you she asks. No, I said. I just want whatever is happening to me to stop though. After a long talk I told her I was going in. I went to the hospital next to my house. Checked in and shamefully told them I was here for anxiety. I sat through a painful hour of waiting until it was my turn to be seen.

Finally, I was going to feel better. I got hooked up to machines to keep track of my blood pressure. But why aren't they checking me for anything else? Clearly There is something internally wrong too. Pleased just check my heart or something? Nothing. After hours I am able to see the doctor. First I got to explain what was going on with the social worker. I liked her and she understood what I had to say. I tearfully got through our conversation. When the doctor came in we had the same talk. I need help, I say as I cry through every word. We have a little chat and then he asks me something I never thought I'd hear. I'm going to go talk to the social worker and see what she thinks but if there is an opening would you be willing to stay at behavioral health for a couple days? You may be worse than what you're showing. I was caught off guard. After a few seconds I said yeah that's fine. He leaves and the social worker comes in. How long do I go I ask? She says for most people in your situation it's usually a few days. There you will have one on one with a Psychologist, tests to get your medications right and support groups. I have been thinking though. Insurance doesn't cover something like this. I cant afford thousands of dollars a day. There is no way. I finally said no thanks. I can do this on my own. They obliged and sent me home with a packet of papers to look through. I feel weak. What just happened. I can't move my body anymore. I just want to lay here and forget about everything. But I have to work in the morning. I have to do this. The next day was terrible but I made it through. Wednesday came. I felt like shit. I was scared of everything… AGAIN. I got done with work and called my mom crying again. After a long talk on the phone she said she is going to come up to be with me. We get a hotel and stay up until about midnight going through ways I can manage my anxiety. We read through my papers and relaxed (as best as I could). We woke up the next morning and I just continued to feel drained. We go for a walk in the hotel and I get confirmation that I can work from home the rest of the week.

Days go on that turn into weeks. It's getting better. Minuscule, but it's getting better...I think. Weeks turn into months and I am feeling like me again. Nothing Has ever been the same since my biggest relapse. I went to the ER at one point again, was prescribed another medication to help aid my Lexapro again, messaged my provider multiple times with little things I believed were a huge red flag of something being wrong with me. I had bought a pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff and my own EKG device. But I have learned to cope, and to feel what I am experiencing at the moment. I joined online therapy through Better Help and learned of different techniques to calm my mind and body. I dug into my past experiences and how I act on a daily basis to try to get some clarity. I learned that I have to be okay with uncertainty in my life and that not everything is always going to go the way I have planned in my head. I learned that I was turning to food to help cope with my panic disorder...having gained 80+ pounds in those past few years. I've learned that it's not time to get off my medication and that's okay.

I learned that everyone's anxiety journey is different. I've learned how to meditate and learned that I need to do what I want in this life to truly be happy. I experience anxiety every day. As we all should. I feel I have a good grip on this monster I was chosen to have. It's not gone, but it's part of me now. There are hard days and happy days just like any other disease I “thought” I had. This was the true one I was dealing with. Now to spread awareness. I feel that is now my calling. I know I am not the only one and you need to know that too. Even if your story doesn't sound exactly like mine your feelings are still valid. No matter how crazy they sound. You aren't the only one. Reach out for help, join support groups, call a friend. We are all here. And now I am too.

I wanted to share with ADAA to potentially help others who may be in the same situation I was/am in. I know how hard and scary it can be and it helped me to know what I wasn’t alone.

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