I think I know now, at least in part, what it feels like to be Benjy. How hard it is to catch your breath when you are panicking. The tightness in your throat and chest that makes you feel you might die. The wish that you could just curl up on your bed all day, coupled with a pretty sure idea that if you do so you will be just as miserable as you will if you go out and try to live your life.
Oh man, that feeling just sucks.
It's called fear, I guess, and it has all these physical parts to it that you would never guess if you have never had an anxiety or panic disorder.
I've had anxiety my whole adult life. I got it from my mother, and she got it from hers. And Benjy makes four of us. At LEAST.
But never like this. Like my boy has it. Never the kind of thing that makes you feel you've swallowed a bee and are going to asphyxiate because it stung your throat. Never the fear that makes your heart work so hard you think it might break with a mighty crash.
Oh, no. Not until I had the leisure to be panicked. To stop long enough to be anxious for more than a little.
I do not like this way of being at all. Most of all because it makes me so sad for my child. I guess it's the difference between sympathy and empathy, which is not simply a semantic one. I always felt compassion toward him. I always will. And there will always be parts of him, of his experience in the world, I can merely sympathize with.
But now I have palpable evidence of his suffering. I have felt it, too. And what kills me is that, if I had felt it four years ago instead of now I would have hurled a lighting bolt at the metaphorical feet of our school district and stopped the madness in its tracks. The madness of trying yet another service, another program, another school, that Just Wasn't Going to Work.
I would have found the place he's at now and I would not have rested until I'd gotten him there.
I know, talk is cheap. But I would have been there fighting, red in tooth and claw. And maybe he would have suffered less.
But he is where he needs to be now, and for that I am so grateful. He sounded so GOOD again last night! I hope this does not end.
And now it's time for me to start taking my tiny steps, panic or no. I've made a resolution: I must leave my house every day and DO something. Coffee with one of my wonderful friends or my brother or sister-in-law (or both). In a couple of weeks I hope I can go farther afield. I have a great therapist who will help me, I know.
The best therapy of all has been the responses I often get, even from total strangers, to my writing. Oh, wow. Talk about heart-lifting! Whether it's blog readers or readers of my published stuff, so many people CARE. I can't believe it.
And whether they're compelled by sympathy or empathy (both wonderful impulses), they feel the urge to let me know.
My god, what a gift, to me and my family. That's what's going to break the panic, I think. Just knowing that there's so much goodness out there in the world, and that people all over the place are rooting for us.
Sometimes I feel like the unluckiest person in the world. (Of COURSE I know that's not true, but emotion is not rational or it would be called rationality. ;)
But when I think about the community that has gathered round me, in person and in the ether, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I am working on reconciling those polar feelings -- but really, logic is overrated. Sometimes it's better not to search for meaning in irrational things.
* Holy crap, I wrote this entire post without making a single typo. This marks a new high in my life as a Tourettic blogger. (Unless Blogger's spell checker is broken, because I notice it did not flag the word "Tourettic.") What's next? Sitting down for twenty minutes without having to straighten a picture or re-arrange the rug tassels? I can only hope. ;)