Life is a roller coaster.
Just handle every bump that comes your way.
You WILL survive.
Just HOLD ON.
As I had said, I had a "moment" (you'll notice I call them that a lot) when I stepped off the bus on the 6 month anniversary of the marathon. It had been a pretty long time (months) since I felt that suffocating feeling so intensely. I had a few more moments that week, but they were small. Looking back, I think they were leading up to yesterday. I also had a dream. I didn't mention it in my last post, because I just wasn't ready. I didn't tell anyone about it until yesterday.
First, I have to say that I have not remembered dreams since the marathon. There was one strange one a couple of months ago that didn't seem to have anything to do with the marathon and other than that, there has been nothing. I generally do remember dreams, so it's been strange not to. I've had many, many nights this past six months when I've woken up crying, just feeling sad, with anxiety, or literally jumping up. I know these dreams have not been good ones and some, considering the way I felt coming out of them, were certainly nightmares. Nightmares I couldn't remember.
Last week, I woke up with one of those, anxious, jump up, sad feelings. I don't remember the whole dream, but I remembered parts. I was in a house. It was my house (not my current one, but in the dream, I knew it was my future house). I was with some family and friends having a party. It wasn't clear, but I was married and it seemed everything was happy and great. And then a bomb went off outside. And I woke up, scared, anxious, and crying. I think the dream tells me a lot. I have many things going on that are positive and some great opportunities, both business and personal, that have come up. It's like things are going right for the first time since the marathon. However, everything was "right" before the marathon.
I had come to a point where my business, my personal life, everything had come together in a way I'd always wanted. There were some obstacles, but there will always be obstacles, and they were nothing compared to how great everything was. I felt positive about the present and the future and had faith that anything not going great would work out. And then, two bombs went off. My whole life was shattered for a while. Things in my personal life were destroyed and my business took a major hit. So, of course, it makes sense that I don't want to enjoy all of the positive things. I'm afraid that it will all be torn apart again. I'm afraid of being completely happy again.
I've been wondering for a while why I wasn't enjoying these things that have been going on. I've been frustrated with it. But now, it all makes more sense to me. I couldn't identify my fear. The interesting part of all of this is that it's as if my brain is finally catching up to what has been happening to 6.5 months. This is evidenced by the dream and the thought I had talked about in my last post about being afraid that a bomb was going to go off when I was walking past a black SUV the other day. My brain has been blocking everything; the memories from that day, some memories after that day, my fear. Now, it may be ready to let me remember and acknowledge things, not just inside the rest of my body. I think this could be a good thing, as painful as I think it may be, because it may be the next step in processing all that happened and has been happening.
So, yesterday. I had gone to bed Wednesday night sad. When I got into bed, I had started to cry. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but I believe it was a combination of things. I figured I had just reached complete exhaustion from going nonstop 24/7 on top of all of the emotional and personal things I've been dealing with. So, I tried to go to sleep. It took a while, but I finally did. And then I woke up sad and crying. I got myself up, got ready and tried to turn it all around, listening to upbeat music on my way to the train and just thinking about good things. I got on the train and couldn't breathe (it was the first time i've been on a completely packed train since before the marathon), just like when i had stepped onto the sidewalk last week. I luckily only had one stop to the next, less crowded train and then the tightness in my chest eased.
I felt better and went to meet a new friend, another woman from my support group, for coffee before our group started. I felt okay, not great, but okay. As group started, I was overcome with anxiety. I felt like I was suffocating and had to run out of the room. When I got in the hallway, I couldn't catch my breathe, my whole body was shaking, and I was crying uncontrollably. One of the therapists came out to check on me and asked if I wanted her to help me through a breathing exercise to catch my breath and I nodded yes. We sat in chairs right there, not ideal considering it was in front of the elevators where people were getting on and off, but it was where it needed to happen at the moment. My whole body went numb. I had that "pins and needles" feeling all through my arms, hands, legs, and feet. I've never felt that before. I calmed down and went to the bathroom to splash some water on my face. I still couldn't stop crying and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I went back in once I'd calmed more. Throughout the rest of the group, I barely looked at anyone. I felt like, if I did, I would have an attack again. When it was my turn to talk, I passed and waited until I felt I could. But, even then, I cried, my breathing wasn't great, and I couldn't look up at anyone at first. The rest of the group went okay, but I felt like crap; sad, exhausted, chest tightness.
When it was over, I walked with one of the other woman down Comm Ave so we could talk and get some air. It helped. I continued walking to the office near the state house and took pics, enjoying the beautiful scenery around me. I felt like maybe I was better. But, as I entered the office, I felt worse again. For the two hours I was there, I sat in an office away from everyone else and had tears sitting in my eyes the entire time, closing the door at one point to have a small breakdown. I finally left and went home. I sat trying to edit photos on my couch, listening to music and still, tears in my eyes and that tightness in my chest that had lasted all day.
Then it hit. Another attack. It was mostly crying and less shaking than early, but I couldn't breathe. I ran to my bathroom and sat on the floor for 10 minutes trying to calm down. I did a bit and went to sit on my bed and ended up calling the same person I had walked Comm Ave with. We talked for an hour and it helped. I also texted with my other friend from group and that combined with talking to another close friend who has helped me along the way (with meditation and energy work), got me to a point where I felt okay. I was thoroughly exhausted and ready for bed, feeling like a good night's sleep would make everything better.
Well, I didn't really sleep. I took melatonin to help but I had trouble going to sleep (overtired maybe) and woke up earlier than I needed to (ironically-or not-, realizing that I've gone back to waking up this past 10 days at the same time as I did for the 2 months following the bombings), feeling drained and still with a tightness in my chest. I'm determined to let this day be better. What I felt yesterday, I hadn't felt to that degree or length since April. It was scary, but it makes sense when I think about it, with all I have going on in my life, and when I think about everything i've learned about PTSD. I have to accept that I will experience that roller coaster, but that when I come out the other side, everything will be the best it's ever been and so will I.
As always, thanks for reading,