Days Twelve & Thirteen: Rock Bottom…& Rising From It
Day 12: In Chapter Nine of You Are Enough, I hit “rock bottom.” Talk about your own rock bottom moment, and how you found the strength and the courage to rise.
Day 13: In Chapter Ten, I talk about how sometimes survival is about whatever gets you through the day. Share what has “gotten you through the day” or held you together during tough times: faith, family, friends, alcohol, food, TV shows…whatever your glue is, don’t be afraid to get real.
I haven’t written about this yet, but back in March, after I went through a bad breakup, I had a bit of a rock bottom moment. I had been really struggling with anxiety again while in the relationship, as my gut never felt at peace while with the guy. I’m not sure if it was based on a lie he told me early in the relationship, something else all together that I may never know about, or just my anxiety playing tricks on my mind. As my lifelong friend Anetra said: “Mandy, I know you tend to be an anxious person, but I also know that if your gut was reacting THAT strongly…there was something going on to cause it.” I don’t have the answers about why I felt the way I did and I may never have the answers…but the anxiety caused by that relationship and the ensuing breakup left me in a mess.
About a week after the breakup, I laid down to go to sleep one night and I just…couldn’t. That was the start of seven straight days of awful, torturous, debilitating insomnia. Seven whole days and nights without one wink of sleep. Suffice it to say, I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. i.e. A complete basket case. When you are already suffering from emotional trauma and then you add to that the physical trauma of not being able to go to sleep…the result is disastrous. I was a bundle of nerves and exhaustion and heartbreak.
When I finally fell asleep for the first time in a week, it felt holy. It was only for a couple of hours but I woke up, crying tears of joy that my body had finally let me rest. You have to rest in order to heal. And I needed desperately to heal.
What “got me through the day” during that rock bottom week was without a doubt my family. When I couldn’t sleep, my parents would sit with me and rub my back or pray for me or just sit quietly so I didn’t feel alone. A couple of times they actually crawled into the bed with me in solidarity. I was hanging on for dear life and they gave me the strength I needed to hold on always just a little longer, reminding me that soon the night would end and the light would break once again.
The nights during that week or so seemed so very long…but eventually, they did end, and eventually, the light did break. And on the other side, therapy was there to bring me the rest of the way home. I found a new therapist who has helped me learn more about myself in the past seven months or so than all of my previous therapists over the years combined.
One of the things she taught me is that with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is what I suffer from, people have a tendency to subconsciously use anxiety as a safe haven instead of confronting their grief. Which seems crazy when you hear that, because who would CHOOSE anxiety? But sometimes the safety of the known is preferable over the scariness of the UNknown, I guess. When I look back at it now, I can see that the week of anxiety and intense insomnia and panic attacks following my breakup actually spared me from the pain of having to grieve the loss of the man that I loved. It strangely gave my mind and body and emotions a momentary reprieve, because I was too focused on simply getting through the day to focus on my broken heart. It brings me to something else my therapist said to me that forever changed the way I viewed my anxiety. She said “Panic and anxiety isn’t your body trying to destroy you, it’s your body trying to PROTECT you.” WHOA. Game changer right there. Is it possible that what has so often felt like the cause of my rock bottom (my anxiety) has actually been the very thing that got me through the day??!?
That’s not to say I’m ready to throw out the welcome wagon for my anxiety and tell it to sit down and stay awhile. I’m still in therapy and working every day to manage my anxiety instead of allowing it to manage me. But…I am learning to trust my body a little more. And to trust myself a little more. And to trust the process a little more. Because had it not been for that breakup and the resulting rock bottom I experienced, I wouldn’t have aggressively sought the help that I did. And I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today…perhaps stronger than I’ve ever been. Turns out I had to lose love to find myself. And I’m okay with that trade-off.
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