Today, I was watching this video:
But that's not why I'm writing this post. Towards the end of the video, Doug, the man with the red beard, got into a car that was then turned upside down to demonstrate how to use the tool to escape from a car when it was flipped upside down after an accident. Just the thought of them turning the vehicle upside down, before they had even done so, was a trigger for me. All of those vehicles that I saw on their sides in the ditch this past winter came rushing back, and, even though it didn't happen directly to me, I was still traumatized and I could feel the panic rising. One vehicle in particular came vividly back to me. While most vehicles that end up in the ditch are removed within 24-48 hours, this one must have been there for at least 2 weeks and I passed it every day on my way home from work. It was on its side and the occupant(s) must have escaped through the hatch, because the hatch was open and there was a full garbage bag sitting beside the open hatch. I started to cry, I started to hyperventilate and my throat began to feel like it was closing off. I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to stop. I cried off and on for at least the next half hour, and had to force myself when I wanted to go to Walmart. Walking through the aisles of Walmart, I told myself a few times not to panic and was thankful I didn't run into anyone I knew because I still felt like crying and didn't feel capable of making small talk. Even now, when I think about the video, I still feel like I could panic and cry.
But that wasn't my first triggering experience. I think the first time was back in July. I hadn't been outside of town since Canada Day, and I was wondering if the canola was in bloom. With the price of gas, I definitely wasn't planning on driving out of town just to check. And then I thought of the road cameras that I could check online on the AMA (Alberta Motor Association) website. Unfortunately, I was just opening the website where I could access the cameras, when I started to panic and cry. The last time I had looked at those cameras was this past winter when I was poring over the road reports and camera views multiple times every morning to determine whether or not it was safe to go to work. And so it triggered me.
In addition to depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), I have also been diagnosed with winter driving phobia. I'm not really fond of driving in the best conditions, but the driving conditions this past winter really pushed me over the edge. I ended up in the ditch once because of extreme icy conditions, right side up thank the Lord, and I didn't seem to be that negatively affected by it. But the winter went downhill from there. By the end of the winter, even if there were just small patches of ice, I would start to panic and had to stop driving. One time I remember feeling my heart pounding in my chest and barely being able to breathe. So, I pulled over into a rest area, and waited for the roads to warm up enough for any remaining ice to melt and headed back out, turned around at the next intersection and headed home. Yes, winter driving phobia sounds like something made up, even to me. But, unfortunately, it's very real.
The next trigger had nothing to do with driving. I went to Peavey Mart. Peavey Mart used to be one of my favourite stores. It was overcrowded and kind of dingy, but I knew where to find most of what I might want in there. I actually worked there for about 8 months before I got back into nursing. But they have since expanded it. I had actually been looking forward to the expansion, because, as I mentioned, it was overcrowded and dingy. I'd been in it once since the expansion, but that was just to pick up something for a friend, and I just had to stop at the checkout, which was by the front door. And that was before I went on mental health leave. It might have even been before last winter. They have since moved the checkout over to the side. It now looked nothing like my Peavey Mart. And I didn't know where to find anything. I felt like crying as soon as I walked in the door. I wandered around the store repeatedly telling myself not to panic. I finally managed to find what I wanted and also located the Round Up for future reference, made my purchase and exited without falling apart. I haven't been back since. I'm not sure if it's because I'm afraid to go back or if it's just the inertia associated with mental illness that's preventing me from going back. Probably a little of both.
One thing about triggers, at least for me, is that they are totally unexpected. Unpredictable and sudden. And maybe I'm more emotionally fragile than I want to admit. I don't see myself that way and I don't want to be that way. And I keep pushing myself to perform. I think I'm my own worst critic.
I'm still not sleeping. Some nights are worse than others. Recently, I had a bad night where I was awake till the early morning hours, got less than 3 hours sleep, I think. I'm dreaming a lot. Waking up frequently during the night. And it's really hard to feel like accomplishing anything when I'm so exhausted all the time. Still short of breath and dry mouth. I tried an antidepressant but it made the nausea worse. I really don't have any faith in antidepressants anyway. I know they apparently work for some people, but statistically they're really not that effective. And my experience with them in the past is that I get all of the side effects without any of the benefits.
So, here I am, praying for healing. Praying for wisdom and direction in my life. And trying to wait patiently on the Lord.