So I was 23 years old at the time. Living back home with my parents and working two jobs while taking a continuing education course at my local community college.
I had just lost 3 grandparents in the span of a year and a half. Up until my 21st birthday, I had never experienced death. But the day of my 21st, I found out my great uncle Barney died. I wasn't close to him, only seeing him at rare family reunions and remembering not much more than a thick brown bear and a booming voice that made me think of what God's voice would sound like.
I first lost my paternal Grandmother, affectionately referred to as my Big Memaw. She was not overweight; she was tall and thin, but when I was 3 or 4 years old, I thought she was big due to her height. She was funny, always had a thick smokers' cough and taught me how to whistle by sucking air in instead of blowing out.
My maternal Grandfather was next. He lost his fight with cancer, one that he discovered the day I was born, but never sought out medical attention because he only thought it was nothing more than a "spot" on his lungs. When it was discovered 22 years later, it had already taken over his body and he died 1 month after it was discovered, and 2 and a half months after my Big Memaw.
Next came my paternal Grandfather, Papa. I was nothing short of completely frightened of him. To this day I still get nervous when thinking of the questions he would ask me when I would visit while I was in high school. I would sit on their bright white upholstered couch feeling the green shag carpet underneath my feet, and immediately begin shifting in my seat due to uneasiness when he started asking me why I wore baggy jeans, who was my latest boyfriend, had I lost weight (hell to the no, I just can't eat around you because you frighten me). Years later, when I talked about how I had planned to major in drama or theater or whatever it was called, he told me to change it because I needed a more practical career. I immediately took his advice and chose to change my major to biology. When I moved away to college, I realized he was only intimidating because of his military background. He was used to being a badass, supposed to be. He loved me, and I know that now. When I think of them now, I envision them in Heaven dancing to Billie Holiday on a fluffy cloud.
Ok, so now I have one grandmother living.
Mother's day in 2004. We get a call later that evening from my grandmother. She was having serious chest pains and her arm was numb. As my mother rushed her to the hospital, I immediately began swearing off Kentucky Fried Chicken due to the fact that it was our Mother's Day meal and I figured it had attributed to her heart attack.
One quadruple-bypass surgery later, and I guess it all got to me.
A few days after her surgery, after her second chance, I had a normal day, ate a normal dinner, and slept in my normal bed.
I awoke sometime around 3am.
What WAS that?
It felt like a shudder.
I quickly settled back to sleep, not thinking anything about it.
A few moments later, I woke again feeling like something had shaken me from the inside.
Ok, I KNOW that was something.
What in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks was that?
Fast forward to a few more occurrences in the next few minutes, and I began to panic.
I started to wonder if I should wake up my parents.
Am I having a heart attack? I knew that I was young, but young people have them too, right?!
Why was my heart racing? Why am I shaking? Where did all of this sweat come from?
I couldn't call Keith. He was still away at college and needed his rest.
I felt silly, helpless, frightened.
I couldn't sleep. Every time I tried, the shudder would wake me up, racing my heart and instilling panic in my mind.
I pulled out a pen and paper and began writing what was going on. I found it a few years ago, but I threw it in the trash because it was too painful to read.
No lie, I thought I was dying. But at no time did I want to tell anyone. Isn't that ridiculous? What am I, a cat who wanders off into the woods to die?!
I ended up hanging out in the living room at some point during this fiasco.
When my father walked in a few hours later to go to work, I told him what was going on. I could barely speak because I was TERRIFIED.
He thought for a second, took a sip of his coffee, and cooly said "sounds like anxiety," pronouncing anxiety with a thick southern drawl.
I was flabbergasted. It never occurred to me that it was anxiety. As a matter of fact, I remember sitting straight up on the green leather couch, hearing that familiar squeak in the cushions and pulling my legs to my chest, asking "what's that? I don't think I'm anxious about anything...am I?"
I didn't go to work that morning. I called in sick and sat at home, waiting for that strange shudder to move through my chest near my heart. It never did.
I went to the doctor that afternoon. I was still scared. I was still sweaty. I was pale (more so than usual).
He took blood and listened to my heart and my breathing. After a few minutes, he told me it was anxiety. Then he wrote "depression" on my sheet and prescribed depression drugs. What a dipshit move. He told me he didn't want me to get "hooked" on anxiety medicine. Um, what? (BTW, I tried taking whatever the medicine was ONE TIME and it doped me up so much that I sat on the couch an entire weekend with debilitating dizziness and drool hanging from my mouth. No, no thank you.)
Anyway, that was my first defined moment in having anxiety issues. Sure, before that I had been afraid to leave the house or worried about walking home by myself, but this was a new territory.
I will elaborate on my anxiety issues in a later post.