On being weak (and kinda sort of accepting help)

CN: anxiety, panic attacks, despair

I feel weak sometimes. It’s painful to write that sentence. I feel weak, exhausted, shaky, unconfident, scared, overwhelmed, panicked, anxious, down, sad, in the depths of despair…

And I DON’T LIKE IT. 

I live with some chronic pain, and a lot of days my body hurts. Aches. Feels like there are spikes or knifes in my neck and head. Like my stomach will never understand the goodness of food and serenity again.

I’ve rearranged my life with rhythms of rest and spaces each day, week, month, year to heal, retreat, and recover.

AND YET

Even with these rhythms and intentional spaces, sometimes there’s a period of life with great stress. Events and places and people that are unsafe, dysfunctional, or for whatever reason require A LOT more energy and resilience. Even though most of the time I plan my life around my work and rest, seeking what brings life and joy – there are times when I have to be at/lead/do things/show up for situations that normally I avoid. Places and spaces where triggers are many, toxic energy abounds, or there’s conflict a brewing.

I’m gonna be real here and say I don’t always know how to handle these situations. I have a surprising amount of bravery and perseverance in me, and yet the aftermath is often pretty terrible. My body is very good at processing feelings when the rest of me refuses to deal with them, and usually transforms stress and trauma into physical sickness.

Yesterday after many a hard thing lately I spent the dark hours of the morning pacing in my bathroom sobbing and attempting to not throw up. That feels like a vulnerable thing to put out into the internet.

I cried so much yesterday that I have TEAR BURNS on my face. Tear burns. I did not even know that was possible! (imagine something between rug burn and wind burn – nice and red and ouchy). Also the panic attacks. I had more panic attacks in a row than I thought was possible, and the harder it was to calm down, the more anxious and distressed I became.

Panic and despair can be a vicious circle. I felt so out of control in my own body that all I could do what rock back and forth and shake (and sob, apparently I’m very good at that part).

In a moment of clarity between panic and pain, I cancelled my meetings for the day, and let my co-workers know that I needed to take a sick day to heal and recover. Then more terribleness that grief and hurt, pain and panic, despair and exhaustion bring. Then after much deliberation I texted a close friend, with a simple “Hey, are you awake?” at 7:30am.

Which if you know me (as this friend does), you might immediately know that something is awake for me to be up at such an UNGODLY hour of morning, let alone communicating with the outside world.

Friends, sometimes I’m weak alone. Often I’m weak at home. There are many days of slow painful mornings, and getting back into my pjs. There are many panic attacks endured or fended off on my own. I spend hours alone resting and healing, doing the things that nourish my soul and body.

And then there are times when being weak alone terrifies me so much I fear that I will not be ok. That I will fall into the oscillating whirlpool of despair and panic and never find my way out again. That I’m not safe in my body, in my space, in this world. That nothing will ever be safe again. And the self-doubt and inner critic inside me turn on me, autoimmune style, and start to attack me from the inside. And I fear that I will be lost forever, and disappear into nothingness. 

That might seem dramatic, but if you’ve ever had a panic attack or bought of intense distress (and MY GOD you should count your blessings in the cheesiest and most realest of ways if you have not), you might know how TRUE those things feel sometimes.

After such deliberation and apologizes and second guesses yesterday, I accepted help from my friend. I asked for what I needed, and my friend brought me medicine and food. They came and sat with me and we talked about slam poetry and dog names, and eventually all that had brought on this dark day. They made me rice and left me to nap, and came back with supplies for dinner and a couple hours of Gilmore Girls.

I hate feeling weak. And I would really rather never ever feel despair or panic again. (Or stomach sickness for that matter). But yesterday I felt what I’ve written in so many poems, deeply and profoundly – I am not alone. 

So here’s me in my pjs wrapped in my red blanket sitting at my computer on the day after a really really hard day, still recovering, and giving a little wave to anyone who feels alone and weak. Here’s a small burst of love into the universe for you. Maybe we can be lost and weak and sad and panicked together. I am not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone.

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One thought on “On being weak (and kinda sort of accepting help)

  1. Sarah
    To write that took extraordinary guts! Thank you.
    When overwhelmed: I read Psalms. I pray. I talk with my family members.
    I don’t ask for help from people enough.
    Jay T.

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