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“living” hell: a look inside the anxious mind

No matter how fast I would run, I could not seem to find refuge from the demons that were chasing me.  With every step forward that I took, I sensed an evil presence lurking closely behind, summoning me to the darkness.  It was gaining ground on me, and it wouldn’t be long until its relentless pursuit became too much for me to bear.  My life was about to change dramatically in ways that I couldn’t even begin to understand.  I was about to begin my descent into my own personal “living” hell.

On an airplane returning from Los Angeles during the middle of May in 2011, I could sense that my running was done.  As we made our descent into Philadelphia, I peered out the window to my left and felt my stomach sink as I witnessed the dark abyss awaiting my return.  Something wasn’t right.  I felt ill.  My mind was vulnerable…negative thoughts came racing in.  And then everything began to slowly fall apart.  A long wait at baggage claim.  A shuttle that took almost another hour to arrive.  A rain that began as a drizzle and turned into a torrential downpour as I headed up the turnpike.  It was the worst weather that I can ever remember driving in…it almost shook my car off the road.  And when I did finally arrive home, I walked in the door and felt like a foreigner in my own apartment.  I was frightened…the surroundings felt eerily unfamiliar…the walls were closing in.

That night was the beginning of my collapse.  A vicious panic attack greeted me in my sleep, and I became too terrified to close my eyes again.  I stayed awake until 6:30 AM.  The next night, 5:30 AM.  Things were getting ugly.  But this was just the beginning.

About a week and half after my return from California, I suffered through another tremendously difficult night.  That evening, I took a shower and as I stood at the mirror shaving my anxiety became so intense that I couldn’t even finish.  Minutes later, I felt as though I was going to collapse.  This had to be what a nervous breakdown felt like…I grabbed the phone and called my father and explained to him what I was feeling.  I asked him to stop by my place.  I didn’t want to be alone because I sensed that something terrible was about to happen, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to help myself in the event that it did.

When he arrived, I was completely exhausted.  My mind and my body were completed depleted.  I was scared to death, and although I was brimming with adrenaline, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I remember that I was sitting on the couch with my father across from me on the chair by the window.  As we sat and talked with one another, two to three times I found myself so fatigued that I dozed off, only to awake each time five to ten minutes later with severe panic.  It was a terrifying experience, and I know it pained my father to see me that way.

Eventually, I retired to bed.  My father offered to stay and sleep in the living room.  Unfortunately, I found no more comfort in my own bed than I had on the couch earlier that evening.  So I read the Bible and prayed…asking the Lord for wisdom, for strength, and for hope.  And then, I pulled out my iPad and typed up the journal entry below…

This is a look inside of my mind that night.  For months, I’ve been hesitant to share this, but I think that it might be able to provide some comfort to those of you who are struggling with your own set of demons in your life.  This was not the bottom for me…in fact it took about another six months for me to find that place.  But I survived it, and I’m a better man for it today.  You CAN overcome – I promise.  Just maintain your faith and never give up, and the Lord will help you weather the storm.  May God bless.

5/25/11 3:13 AM

So I decided tonight that maybe I’d start keeping a journal.  I’m hoping that writing will allow me to clear my head so that I can fall asleep. Being awake this late at night on a regular basis is killing me. I can feel myself deteriorating from the stress and anxiety. Tonight I was very afraid that I might be looking into the eyes of a nervous breakdown and perhaps I still am. After a very stressful day at work, I felt myself barely clinging to the edge of sanity this evening. It was as if I had drained all of my body’s resources. I hardly had the strength to move. I thought I might collapse. So I called my dad and asked if he could come spend some time with me…I was scared to be alone if it really did happen, and I wasn’t sure I’d make it to a phone if it did. I was hoping earlier that perhaps I was just dehydrated or maybe I needed something to eat, but after addressing both those things I still feel unstable. My body feels like it’s trembling inside and I feel lost and confused. Even with my dad on the couch in the next room I cannot get any sleep, I’m too afraid to relax and close my eyes. My life has truly become a sad existence. I’m so tired of fighting this battle.  And it feels like my body has decided that it feels the same. So what do I do? Two weeks ago I was in California, thousands of miles from my safe zone battling my demons, and I was winning.  I actually felt as though I was living life…even if only momentarily. It sure felt good. By the end of the trip I was sleeping great at night and wishing that I could stay. But the minute I got off the plane in Philly everything changed…and it’s truly been downhill since. It’s almost as if today I’ve already forgotten who that strong, independent person was in California. I could not be weaker in this moment. How did I lose myself so quickly again? And why does it have to be so hard for me to try and hold onto an ounce of peace…why is happiness so fleeting? I don’t know how to get myself back. I’m getting too frail to fight. Everything just works in a vicious cycle. It’s out of control and I can’t stop it. I’m fearful for my physical health and my sanity. Thank the Lord for the comfort He provides. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m just so thankful to be promised salvation. In God’s time I will find my peace. It may not be on this green earth but someday I’ll find it. That promise is what keeps me going. My eyes are getting heavy, maybe this is working. Going to try again to get some rest. Can’t do many more days on this little sleep at work…gnite