The Intense Need to Live

Anxiety Photo

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.-Anais Nin

I feel torturous fear. My entire body becomes chilled. Palms perspire and feel as though 1000’s of stick pins are pushing into them. The small hairs stand up on the back of my neck. My heartbeat quickens to 175 beats per minute. There’s tightness in my chest. Tingling and numbness in my left arm. Am I dying? Will someone help me? Please!? My head pounds and I become dizzy. My teeth clench. I feel as if I’m living outside of myself. That I’m not real. I touch objects, but can not feel them. My breathing becomes shallow and rapid. I have feelings of impending doom.

My brain speeds up and all thoughts scatter. My eyes dart around the room. Can anyone sense what’s happening to me? My anguish? My need to live? To run away? That I’ve lost my breath? That I’m shutting down? Dying. Of what, I’ve no idea? I hyperventilate and my body shakes. I think I’m going to pass out. Won’t anyone help me? I can’t breathe! I can’t see! My face flushes. I am shaking. I reach out with trembling hands and scream, “HELP, I’m dying!!” Am I crazy? Can those around me see it? See me? Heal me. Please!

So pronounced was my need to live that I lost my breath. Every single day.

I would wake up and try to focus. Stand up. Breathe air into my lungs. It felt as though they had collapsed. I could barely gulp in air. The tightness in my chest would intensify and my heart would constrict. Such was my need to live. My need to survive everyday. I was a young wife and mother. I had lost control of my spirit, mind, and body. I wanted to die. But I didn’t. I wanted the fear to subside, but it never did. Every day I spiraled out of control. Every damn day.

It took years to come to grips with the fact that I was doing all of this to myself. That I was hurting myself. I went to the emergency room constantly. There were EKGs, EEGs, blood work, stress tests, and echocardiograms. I was a healthy, albeit crazy 22 year old woman. I fought the good fight. I finally found my way to the Anxiety and Panic Disorder program at the University of Michigan Hospital. After an assessment, I was put into an anxiety group discussion. I worked hard at my program. I faced my fears. My anxiety went into remission. I was able to live again. Enjoy my husband and children. Find my way back to happy.

Ten years later I started having symptoms again. My children were growing up. I was self-destructing. I was gaining weight and sabotaging myself. I started waking up in the night with panic attacks. It was time for medication and more therapy. I started Lexapro. Within one week the sparkle returned to my eyes. There was life in my life. There was hope. I and my family flourished. I realized that I was like a diabetic. I needed the meds to bring me back to life. I still take them. I need to.

I work with an incredible therapist. He helps me find my way. He tells me I’m not crazy. That I am good. He makes me work hard. Makes me accountable. What’s surprising is the fact that I’ve become an adrenaline junkie. Nothing scares me. Well, hardly anything. There’s that unnatural fear of sharks that I have. I think I was killed by one in a past life.

If you feel these symptoms, know that you are not alone. Get help. Talk to me. Talk to others. Find your way back to life. And breathe easy. You are okay.

22 thoughts on “The Intense Need to Live

  1. Hi Renee! There were moments where I felt the same. I broke up with my first love whom I was with for more than 5 years. I was in college stressing out. I wanted to die. I was depressed. I felt like an emotional gargle of words. There were days when I chose not to talk to anyone. There were days where I would go to the nearest bar and drink till I can’t and do drugs. My body gave up on me. I was rushed to the clinic and then to the emergency room because I have forgotten how to breathe. My head was in such clutter I forgot I needed to.

    I passed out in school 5 times. They shoved a breathing tube down my throat because I stopped breathing. I was surrendering. My body was.

    You are not alone.

    Question: What made you remember to write about this feeling Renee?

    • Oh Louise, I’m so sorry that you had to go through so much. Anxiety is so debilitating. I’m glad you’ve come back from it. It’s good to love life. To want to live so much that we lose our breath. But it can not come at the expense of our mental health.

      Honey I wrote it so I could share my story. I had never written about it before. I needed to get it out there. Let others know that they are okay to feel these feelings. That there is a way to live again. To live out loud and flourish!

      • Thank you for doing this. To know that I am not alone means a lot. Although I am not feeling that way now, I know one day I soon will be again. I will remember your words and put into mind that I am not alone in this.

      • Honey we all struggle with it. Those of us that feel this intense need to live are the most afraid to die. To have it end. That’s not a bad thing. It means we want to live our lives to the fullest. I try to, every day. Don’t give up my dear. If you have these feelings again, work through them. Do not self medicate. You will survive. Breathe easy love.

  2. You are an angel for posting this. As a person with PTSD and generized anxiety of which I deal with very well these days thanks to much breathing,painting and people. Their are many people who have no idea what the heck is wrong with themselfs. So bravo to you !!!
    I hope you are doing ok these days I know it’s been a rough month.
    Be well

    • I feel for your my dear Benjamin. It is not an easy thing to go through. I wondered what was wrong with me for so many years. I’m okay now. More than okay. I live my life at the edge. I laugh every day. I cry too. But I LIVE. Thanks to good meds and therapy. Supportive family and friends help too. I hope you are well too Benjamin. Thank you for sharing with me. Mwah!

  3. This is really an important post, Renee. It’s vital that people share their experiences and journeys so that as a human race we can build understanding and provide support to each other. Sounds like you are now keeping on top of it all and at a better place. As for adrenalin junkie, I know the feeling. The more I age, the more I go after these experiences. I would never have had the courage or confidence to do so before. Viva la personal envelope pushing!!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. I can’t believe in all this time I never shared my struggle with anxiety and panic. I’ve shared so many others. It is important to let others know that they are not alone. That we all struggle with some form of mental illness. Mine is in check. And like you, the older I get the more life I want to experience. I am NOT afraid. Most of the time. Thank you so much for your comment. I sure do appreciate it.

  4. Popped in to say hello. Glad that you’re writing…putting all your emotions and guts onto the page. That’s where it belongs and without it what we all write about. I know you’ve been struggling but you’re obviously coming out the other side. I can only speak for me, but Christmas can be rough.

  5. Oh, goodness do I relate to this. I have recently been diagnosed with anxiety disorder among other things. I am working at trying to get insurance so I can go to therapy, but I am also working very hard on my own in the mean time. I have other things that play into my diagnosis, but anxiety and panic attacks have been part of life since a child. I never knew what it was and now that I am gaining understanding it is making my life make much more sense.

    Thank you for sharing. No we are not alone! AND it helps in so many ways to know that. Blessings to you!

    • I wish you luck in getting the insurance and finding a great therapist. First thing you want to do is slow your mind. Slow down your breathing too. Speak out loud calmly and be patient with yourself. If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask….

  6. Hi Renee,
    I’m sorry I haven’t been aroubnd for a bit, I’m afraid I had to have a quick spell in hospital due to.. breathing problems… how spooky is your title and subject!!
    It’s something that we do everyday of our life from start to finish, automatically without thinking about it, taking that ability for granted, then one day something happens and all of a sudden it’s hospital time!!!
    I’ll do a blog all about it when I catch up / get a chance 🙂 but I’m out now and back though a bit tired.
    I hope you are ok now Renee, the wedding must be happening VERY soon, just enjoy the day, let it all flow,and relax!!!
    Talk to you soon,
    love n hugs xxx

    • Hello there my friend. I’m sorry to hear you were in the hospital. I pray you are on the mend. There’s nothing worse than not being able to breathe. Please do write about your experience and let me know how you are feeling. I’ve missed you. 😉

  7. Pingback: Guest Post: The Musings Of A Broken Blonde Bombshell | Guest Posts | Daan van den Bergh

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