The first sign of Graves that I can recall happened in early 2010. It was my my husband’s (we weren’t married yet) birthday and I was struggling to decorate his cake. I was a pro at cake decorating. We are talking here about elaborate frosting flower arrangements and chocolate sculptures, yet that day I had a hard time writing a simple ‘Happy Birthday’. My hands were shaking as if I drunk mugs and mugs of coffee. I didn’t think much about it. I mean hands can shake for a number of insignificant reasons, right? Lack of sleep, heavy weights I used at the gym, the spoonful of Nutella I inhaled right after my workout totally erasing its effects… Not a big deal. I made the cake solid chocolate brown with a nice arrangement of candles and called it a day.
The tremors persisted the next day, and another… The following week.. The following month… Until I finally went to see my doctor.
- How much coffee do you drink? None, I’m a green tea drinker
- Do you do any drugs? No, just vitamins.
- How much alcohol do you drink? Occasional glass of wine.
- Are you active? Very, I do yoga every day for at least an hour and go to the gym every day.
- Do you party a lot? No ma’am. I am currently working full time, I am enrolled full time in college, and I volunteer a lot.
Doctor’s diagnosis: stress, too much coffee (???), lack of sleep.
I was a bit confused but decided to sleep a bit more, started taking more relaxing deep breaths during the day, stopped drinking green tea just in case there was any caffeine in it.
The tremors kept happening and getting more visible. After another few months my hair started falling out.
Another visit to my doctor’s office. This time she agreed to do a blood test to see if there was anything happening.
Doctor’s diagnosis: stress, too much coffee (???), lack of sleep, hypochondria.
Ouch. Things were getting mental… and much harder with every day…
I sort of started believing that I was having mental issues because of how much I’ve changed around that time. I’ve always been very happy and joyful to the point I suffered from outburst of uncontrollable giggle for no reason. I enjoyed everything and anything. There wasn’t one thing in this world that wasn’t making me smile. But by mid 2010 the very happy person I used to be was becoming more and more depressed. I found a lot of things to blame it on – I lost my job during recession, I lost a great friend… I started making excuses instead of finding joy in those hurdles. Something I was so skilled in before.
Fast forward to January 2011. My hands were starting to tremble so much I had trouble writing, doing make up, cutting while cooking. My hair was super thin and brittle. My nails were peeling off my hands. My heart was racing so much at times it was hard to catch my breath. Insomnia set in.
It was time to speak to another doctor.
Doctor’s diagnosis: stress, too much coffee (???), lack of sleep, hypochondria, depression and anxiety, possible schizophrenia.
I couldn’t understand it all. What was happening to me? How did I let it get so bad? What was I so depressed about?
I was told that mental disease could show up at any time in our lives without any warning, without a reason.
I became a statistic: 6.9% of Americans suffer from anxiety and depression, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness.
So I did what we all do these days – I reached out to Doctor Google to learn more about my mental illness.
Schizophrenia and hypochondria. That made all the sense. Now what?
I’m not sure if I can continue with this life.
Last night as I laid in bed wide awake I did the usual symptom check. My heart was racing so badly it was hurting my ribs. I laid still but my hands were shaking and I felt like my whole body was vibrating. My head was hurting, especially behind my eyes. That pressure pain has been constant lately and is not going away. I heard a creak in the walls and jumped into an anxiety world. My mind seriously imagined someone walking in and killing me. Those death thoughts are taking over lately. Everything I see or hear feels threatening to me. I live in a constant fear. Maybe that’s why my heart is going insane.
After James went to work this morning I sat down at my desk. I couldn’t log in and start working. I couldn’t breath. The walls started closing on me. I needed to get out.
I went for a very short walk. I got to the end of my street which is only 4 houses long and couldn’t go any further. I was too scared to cross the street to go to the next side or to turn left to continue on the sidewalk. I was too scared to walk. Every time I heard a car I felt like it was going to run me over.
By the time I got back to the house I was a wreck. Too scared to take a warm shower, too scared to drink a warm tea, too scared to start the fireplace. So I just grabbed a blanket and sat at the bottom of my stairs. It was then that I realized I left the house wearing only thin PJs and a silky robe… I was frozen.
And I cried.
I think I’m ready to check into a hospital.
I just don’t understand it all!
If I am truly insanely crazy, why can I reason myself out of craziness. Is it a part of being crazy?
Today I feel so lonely. I felt like even God wasn’t around. When God isn’t around the air smells weird. It’s thick and it chokes me.
I need to pray right now…
I feel a little better. I was pretty worthless today but I pushed through and finished what needed to be done at work. I even cooked a dinner to James’s surprise. He seemed tired and stressed today. Am I adding to that stress? I probably am.
I asked God to glue my soul together today. It feels like there are cracks in it. I think if my soul is strong again, I can do and go through anything.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. -Phil 4:1 NIV
I think the only way I can survive this life is to totally give in to Him and get outside of my head and serve others. I’ve always been a giver and caretaker. Today, while praying I felt as He was telling me that He can’t fix my soul unless I do the work. I felt as He was telling me that He gave me the loving heart and I am not utilizing that gift. I felt as He was telling me to pour myself onto others.
Will that fix my soul?