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.

Alive With the Glory of Love and the Genius of Max Bemis

Today has been a shit day. I’m in a drug haze, in pain and exhausted. I can’t even put my thoughts together to write a love story. I have one noodling in my silly brain, but the words won’t come.

At work while I was sitting there staring at my gigantic monitors and getting nothing done, I decided that I needed to listen to a little Say Anything. Max Bemis’s lyrics bring me up or down. Depends on the song that comes up on my play list on Spotify. Imagine my joy when I heard the first line of the song,  Alive with the Glory of Love. The lyrics are simple, but they capture my soul and make me lose my breath.

He sings, When I watch you, wanna do you, right where you’re standing. Yes, it’s sexy and sultry, but as you listen to the song you realize it is so much deeper than the act of fucking. It’s about the intense love that a young man has for a young woman during the time of concentration camps, Jewish Ghettos, and being in hiding. I can’t imagine the fear they lived with. I just can’t fathom it. But these two people, though they felt fear, they felt love so deeply for one another that it kept them alive. Even in the Treblinka Concentration Camp.

Should they catch us and dispatch us to those separate work camps, yeah
I’ll think about you, I’ll dream about you
I will not doubt you, with the passing of time
Should they kill me, your love will fill me as warm as the bullets
I’ll know my purpose, this war was worth this, I won’t let you down

No I won’t, no I won’t, no I won’t

(Alive, alive, alive with love)
I won’t let them take you, won’t let them take you, hell no no

Max wrote the song about his great grandparents. They survived Treblinka. Through sheer luck? No, I do believe that their love saved them. I am a sappy romantic girl, so I will always believe that to be the case. Just like Max does. Max is a fucking bi-polar schizophrenic, but his lyrics feed my soul.  They speak of sex and want, but they soothe me. They make me believe in undying love. Even in a fucked up time in history and the need for a madman to exterminate an entire race of people. There were still love stories. There was still so much of life for these doomed people to live. How they made it through each day without losing their minds, I have no idea. I don’t think I could have.

It also reminds me of my kids. They’re both singers. Meggie is a classically trained opera singer and Adam Boy is a tenor with a falsetto that can still bring tears to my eyes. When they were teenagers, all their friends would come over on the weekends with acoustic guitars and sing their hearts out. Roger Darling and I would have to be right in the middle of it. To hear all of their voices convey the meaning of the lyrics they sang thrilled my soul and made Roger so proud.

I miss those days, night, weekends and impromptu concerts that took place in our living room. I miss every single one of those kids. They were my kids, even though I didn’t give birth to them. They were mine. Every one of them. They still are. When I see them, they still call me Momma Heath. Or Mom. In some way they complete me. In some way I still complete them.