I came back from the hospital that night and had a long sleep. I had just experienced the scariest moment of my life. I couldn’t forget the feeling in that cold emergency room – the plain face of the nurse telling me “we will wait and observe, you were probably given a slight higher dose of the medication”, my boyfriend feeling guilty and scared for me, and my arms and legs jerking uncontrollably.
The next day seemed just like any other day. We were making jokes of how my boyfriend just said I love you for the first time in that terrible moment. We were laughing about it and things seemed back to normal.
The second night; however, I was in my room reading some papers and I began having difficulty breathing. The whole experience from the hospital came rushing back to my mind. I got scared and started panicking. I needed to leave my house and get some fresh air. As I left my apartment, my roommate was returning home and noticed I wasn’t being myself. I told her I needed air, I couldn’t breath. She immediately came outside with me, we went for a walk and I used an inhalator to open up my airways. By the time we got back home I was feeling much better.
Unfortunately, over the next several days and weeks, these episodes of panicking and difficult breathing repeated many times and I would find myself in the emergency room a couple of times a week. I thought I had asthma because it was a common allergy symptom for me.
One afternoon I was working in my office analyzing some data when suddenly my breathing became very heavy and difficult. I immediately got up and ran to the medical center for help for the second time that week. As the nurse talked to me I started to feel better. She gently suggested that I was probably stressed. “You might be stressed, maybe you should see a psychologist for help, but we will also schedule you to see an allergist.”
I got tested for my allergies and asthma that same week but didn’t scheduled an appointment with a psychologist. Why would I? Soon the exams came back and it was confirmed that I did not have asthma but I had allergy to scallops and shrimp. The doctor suggested me to see the psychologist again and I said okay.
I wasn’t happy that I didn’t have asthma. I wish there was something physically wrong with me as it would be much easier to explain and deal with. “Now what? I don’t have asthma but my head is messed up?”
My visit with the psychologist was not what I expected, she was nice but didn’t help much. As I told her about my breathing problems she looked like she couldn’t breath herself. “You are not helping!” I thought while she held her hands tight against her chest, as if she was living my own story. I thought she was going to cry. Needless to say, she didn’t help me calm down.
I was sent to a more experienced doctor, a psychiatric doctor. “I must be very mess up!” This doctor was very good, she prescribed me some medicine to help me stay calm while I treated the roots of my anxiety. Anxiety – that’s how they were calling it.
That evening, I got home from work and was going to take the first pill prescribed by the psychiatrist. I look at the pill and remembered that the doctors at the hospital had messed up my dose. “I will only take half of it just in case. These doctors don’t know what they are doing. What if this is the wrong dose again?” I thought to myself.
As I broke the pill in half and hesitantly took it with a cup of water, my thoughts fired up. I was panicking again, scared that the pill I just took would get me sick. “It is a strong medicine, the side effects might be strong…” “I am alone at home, if something happens to me, no one will know!”
I got the phone and called the help line. My doctor gave me the number in case I needed it. Someone talked to me trying to calm me down. They were trying to contact my doctor while keeping me on the line. They wanted to make sure I would be okay. As I panicked, I had no control of my thoughts, of my actions… I was scared… I wanted a way out of that feeling…
While on the phone, I texted my boyfriend. “I am scared. I am sick in my head… I can’t take care of myself… I need to go back to Brazil… I will schedule my tickets and go back home…”
My boyfriend said: “Don’t do anything!” … “Where are you?” … “I’m coming over now.”
He left everything he was doing and came to see me. It took about 10 min and I was still on the phone with the help line. I was feeling a little less anxious and told them my boyfriend was there with me.
“Do you have someone to stay with you overnight?” … “We will call you again in 30 min to make sure you are okay.”… “Call us anytime if you need.”
As I hung out the phone, I told my boyfriend I needed to go back to Brazil. Something really wrong was going on with me, it was intense and I couldn’t do it by myself.
“You are not leaving”… “I won’t let you leave.” … “I am here with you, we will do this together. You are not alone!”
As he said these sweet words, he gave me the nicest smile ever, held my hands and said:
“Now, breath with me… Inhale and exhale…” His smile was healing me. I felt safe. I felt loved.
I was right. He was a special man and he was the one. This was the biggest proof of love he could have given me. After all, I was not alone. I had no family around, I didn’t know what would happen with my visa, but I knew one thing: I had his love and his support no matter what. We would fight this demon together.
To be continued…