Mr. Curry is back for himself and then, for us. I wish I could say the same for myself. Since Ever's birth, a strange and unsettling dissociation has me in it's grips, and I am never- almost- never grounded. My mind, already inclined to flight, has detached itself like a whimsical balloon that floats above everything and everyone, largely unconcerned with the problems of the body below.
The distinguishing characteristic of depersonalization disorder is the feeling that one is going through the motions of life, or that one’s body or self is disconnected or unreal. Mind or body may be perceived as unattached, seen from a distance, existing in a dream, or mechanical. Such experiences are persistent and recurrent, and lead to distress and dysfunction. Chronic depersonalization is commonly accompanied by “derealization,” the feeling that features of the environment are illusory. It should be noted that characteristics attributed to depersonalization disorder must be independent of any kind of substance abuse. It should also be noted that depersonalization as an isolated symptom may appear within the context of a wide variety of major psychiatric disorders. For example, mild episodes of depersonalization in otherwise normally functioning individuals have been reported following alcohol use, sensory deprivation, mild social or emotional stress or sleep deprivation, and as a side effect to medications. However, severe depersonalization is considered to be present only if the sense of detachment associated with the disorder is recurrent and predominant. > Psych Central
I have anxiety disorder, most of you know, and have since I was a little girl. At times, the fever pitch of anxiety snowballed into panic attacks, clawing one after the other their way up my spine and into my soul and brain like crazed cats, spiraling so that every moment of life was filled for me with pure terror, dread. During my pregnancy with Ever, I had taken the smallest possible dose of zoloft until finally I took none, so that when she was born I had none in my blood, my brain. I felt wonderful. I felt wonderful lying down to receive the morphine for my C-Section- the first I have ever had- I was prepared, informed, and had Mr. Curry next to me, holding my hand, telling me a story to distract from the large needle delivering the juice to my spine. As the numbness began to spread through me, as the morphine moved its way through the river of veins, a slow and terrible anxiety began to grip me. Oh no, I remember thinking so clearly, looking at the bright white lights, the bright white sheets, the bright white room, the gleaming silver equipment, the masks of the nurses, oh no. I sought out Mr. Curry's eyes, large and hazel, flecked with gold, eyelashes long and dark. He looked straight into me, as he always does, and I felt the safety of his love arriving alongside the free for all of anxiety. Flanked, motherfucker. I gripped his hand tighter. He leaned over, seeing my distress. It's OK honey, you are doing great. I love you, we are having our baby.
Ever was lifted out of me and I heard her cry, that timeless clarion call, like a startled kitten, she meowed in a scratchy rhythm. And still, alongside now Mr. Curry's love, alongside this new love, was the red river of anxiety, burning it's way through my body, setting fires, freeing monsters.
I was in a very bad way for weeks afterward. From the exact moment my conscious woke in the morning, before I had chance to open my eyes and take in something good, something light, something whole, anxiety was wielding it's bricks and pounding my brain, my heart. The overwhelming terror is impossible to explain, and yet in the midst of it, I try over and over to tell Mr. Curry. It feels like... someone is standing over me with a bloody knife and they have just stabbed you and now they are going to stab me. It feels like... all our children are dying of cancer. It feels like... we were just told nuclear war is happening and we are all going to die. It feels like... I'm in a car going over a cliff but it's happening in slow motion and no one can save me... I use brutal words. He listens to me patiently, silently, with his body turned toward me. Absorbing what he can for me.
My entire body vibrates with fear. My hands shake. My stomach is visibly quivering. The skin around my mouth twitches. Small electrical discharges move the long smooth muscles of my thighs and arms without my consent. The first time this happened to me, years ago, I thought I had MS, or Parkinsons, the disease my Grandmother Elizabeth died of. My face goes numb in patches; a large stretch of skin across my calves burns hot, then freezing cold. My eyes burn, my vision blurs, the tips of my fingers sear with pain. My stomach is coiled into a tiny hard pit stinking with the fumes of fear: cortisol and adrenaline pump like oil rigs day and night. I cannot eat. I make myself eat for the baby, the breastmilk. I cannot sleep. I make myself sleep for the baby, the children. I have to use the bathroom a hundred times a day, shitting out the contractions of my gut. At times the terror overwhelms me so that I grip the closest table or counter or thing, just anything solid and stronger than I am, something to hold onto while the wave crashes across me. I breathe. I pray. I use every single piece of knowledge and wisdom I have ever been taught to make it through the day and the night and then again. I wake in the morning, freezing cold every inch, and do what Mr. Curry reminds me every day. Take care of the children. Don't think about yourself. Think about them. And it is the thing that keeps me from flying into a million shattered fragments.
Tell your mind, Mr. Curry coaches me, every day, every morning on the phone and every afternoon on the phone and every afternoon when he comes home and then again at bedtime. Tell your mind, There is no war. There is no dying. This is not happening. But it could be, I plead, it doesn't matter, it might happen, it could happen! It DOES matter, he says firmly, our life matters, we love our children, we love each other, and every second we have alive and together matters to us Maggie. It matters. If tomorrow something happens we would look to today to see if we had been glad for what we had. Focus! And I cling to his words which I believe and he believes and they keep me moving. I cave quickly after three days of this, I take the zoloft, a high dose, for me, and I weep and fear for my breastfeeding. Mr. Curry and I talk it over and I discuss it with the pediatrician at Ever's checkup and I decide to keep nursing her.
I get better. But I am nursing Ever, and co-sleeping, and so I am wakened many times a night, and although this lessons as she gets older, still, I never get more then four hours of sleep at one time. I am better, I eat wonderfully, I take the important fish oils, the b-vits, the multiple, I move my body, I get sunshine, and I get better. But I am consumed with my infant daughter and her tiny, new body and soul, and the sleepless and four kids and working and laundry and husband and moving and money and constant notenoughmoneynotenoughmoney and work/homework/dinner/bath/write/sleep repeat and through the blur of this time I push my hands and part the curtain and realize that I cannot feel myself inside this story. I am telling the story, and I am watching the story, but I am detached.