It began without warning. Out of nowhere.
My heart began to pound, palms drenched in sweat. My chest seized tightly. I felt like I shouldn’t be able to breathe, but I was…quickly.
And it wouldn’t subside. The tightness.
You know, people are dying from complications of the flu. They just can’t breathe.
Maybe that’s me. Maybe this tightness is flu complications. This is the beginning of the end. This is how it will end. Tightness. Throat closing. Dizziness. Fear…
“I need to go to the hospital. Now.”
How does someone go from seemingly ok to the brink of a system shutdown?
Panic linked to anxiety shrouded in depression. This was the next few weeks of my life. The tightness remained. The racing heart and fear of the unknown.
I could tell you about the ER and doctor visits, the needles, trying to get to the root of the problem.
I could tell you how my entire being was consumed with fear of a returning panic attack.
I could talk about the medicines and coping strategies.
But these details are just launching point for the real story.
The story that begins with my husband. Who grabbed my hand when he saw the fear in my eyes. Who ran to the car to drive me to the ER. Who watched me with concern and patiently rubbed my shoulders to ease the stress.
My story continues with my 10-year old son. Who quietly slipped in the room and grabbed my hand as I sobbed in frustration. Who sat next to me as I tried to tell my story over the phone to my parents. Who hugged me and whispered, “You’re going to be ok, Mom.”
My parents and in-laws. Who stayed with us while we sorted out the problems. Who helped with the kids. Who listened to me wrestle with something I didn’t understand. Who scoured for solutions, but never imposed their opinions.
My sister who called from halfway across the country. Who shared her struggles in an effort to find a common cause.
My coworker and friends. Who listened patiently. Who encouraged me that it would get better. Who gave me oils and advice from their own experiences. “Girl, we got you.”
An anonymous supporter. Who sent me a shirt with my word of the year – persist. Who knew I needed to be reminded of this commitment.
They are the most important piece of this story. Those who sacrificed their time and energy to comfort a friend. They filled in the gaps and surrounded me with support I desperately needed.
One of my friends shared a story of female elephants. When a female elephant is giving birth or injured, the other elephants surround her and begin stomping the ground kicking up dirt. This commotion keeps away predators and allows the elephant a chance to recover.
During my darkest moments, I was definitely surrounded by my elephant tribe. They were kicking up dirt, protecting me from despair.
I have an amazingly large tribe. And they did surround me. They still do. Because of them, I have what I need to move toward health.