I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Grief Observed: The Mind and Body

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

(Howard Arnold Walter)

Remember this post? I wasn't kidding when I said that that Grief and Stress can greatly affect the body.

In October, I learned of some health issues that I was experiencing that were likely brought on by the overwhelming stress caused by multiple and major Life Changes last year. So I began treatments and started to simplify my life. I thought I had everything under control.

And then November hit.

One evening, I was sitting in bed, going over the digital files for our Christmas Card before we sent them to print. I remember looking over the content with David, shaking my head that this was REALLY our card this year. I couldn't bring myself to sign our individual names and not include Bennett and so I opted for signing our surname. Who would have thought these little things would be so hard?

Awhile later, the kids were tucked in their beds, long asleep, and David had drifted off into Dreamland. I had just switched off my lamp and laid my head on the pillow when the world began to cave in on me. I started choking, I couldn't breathe, my entire body was shaking, my heart was going crazy and I felt like I was going to black out.

In short, I felt like I was dying.

In fear of passing away in my sleep without David knowing, I shook him and muttered that we needed to get to the hospital. Fast. I was dying. I could feel it. I looked at the clock. It was 1 am. I picked up the phone and called my parents. I awoke them (of course) and begged them to come and watch our kids while David took me to the emergency room.

To be honest, I didn't know if I'd be coming back. I felt Life slipping from me. I have never been so scared in my Life.

Actually, I take that back. January 22nd takes the cake.

Now, a little clarification here. I am not afraid of Death. Quite the contrary. In a healthy way, I quite look forward to the Next Life. But right now, my family is in a vulnerable position. My kids need their Mommy and my Honey needs his Sweetheart. I knew that. And so - for their sake - I knew that it couldn't be my time to go. It just couldn't.

As my parents spoke to me on the phone, David pulled out the lap top. We started typing my symptoms into google. The results were not promising. A heart attack, Aneurysm, or Acute Anxiety Attack. The symptoms were hauntingly the same.

Ugh. Options, not good.

My Mom and Dad told me to get in the bathtub and see if if the symptoms subsided. If it was an anxiety attack, they would gradually diminish. If not, I probably should get to the hospital. Stat.

So I did.

Over the next hour, the symptoms DID subside. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep in my husband's arms, promising that I would get to the doctor sometime that week.

Well, that was #1 out of 4 attacks that occurred in the next 7 days. Each episode happened at different times, triggered by the unknown. Nothing overly emotional, upsetting or troubling preceding each one. They arrived unannounced, paralyzing me without a moment's notice. It. Was. Hell.

By the end of the week, I knew I had to see a Doctor. And fast. I made an appointment for that morning and was soon sitting knee to knee with our family practioner. As I discussed my symptoms, he asked me a series of questions surrounding my current Life Situation. When I gave him the Readers Digest version of this year's happenings, I thought he was going to fall off his chair. He just stared at me wide eyed.

And then we began to discuss options.

Side Note - At Bennett's viewing/funeral, I had multiple people recommend that we get on medication to help "numb the pain." I thought that was crazy. I felt it important that - as a family - we all be on the same page in our Grief. If we were going to walk this path, we were going to walk it together. That was my opinion.

That is, until the attacks began.

So my Doctor told me that a few things were necessary.
1 - I had to simplify. Everything. And I. Mean. EVERYTHING. That calling that I had just accepted to Chair our Congregation's Christmas Party? It was a no go. Wow. For Little Miss "Sign me up for it", this was going to be hard.
2 - I had to learn how to relax my mind, body and spirit. My Doctor suggested Meditation. I prefer prayer. I needed to find a way to take my mind to a Peaceful Place when I could feel Anxiety coming on. Hmmm . . . this was going to take practice.
3 - Medication WAS necessary. This would take care of itself in time but - until then - I had to be functioning. For Myself, for my Children and for my Sweetheart.

And so it goes. I've been on anxiety meds for two months now and I am happy to say that I am fully functioning and coherent. I am not numb and I completely feel the ups and downs of Life and Grief along with my family. The difference? I am not paralyzed with Anxiety and Fear. We have had to make changes and I have had to develop skills. Skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I don't know what triggered the attacks 10 months into our experience. It was probably more of "the straw that broke the camel's back" scenerio. But it is what it is. And we're dealing with it. Together.

Is my battle with Anxiety over? Hardly. I know I will deal with anxiety - to one extent or another - for the rest of my life. Especially when I have another babe. But I am not willing to let Fear get in the way of the greatest Joys in life. I will not. I will choose to Love. I will choose to have Hope. I will choose to keep Believing. And I will continue to Live.

The moral of the story? There are many things in life that you have no control over. And - at times - that sucks. But what you CAN control is the way that you deal with it. And taking care of yourself is the LEAST selfish thing you can do.

That's what I know for sure.


  1. I'm so grateful my mother and my sister convinced me to see my doctor about anxiety medication after my first child. I had debilitating post-partum depression. Turns out I had suffered from anxiety my entire life and hadn't known what it was. Medication helps me be me.

  2. Thank you for being so real! I have a dear friend who is FINALLY feeling better after a nightmare of trying to get on top of anxiety and depression for 4 months...All I have to say is THANK HEAVENS for medical help! And thank heavens for fasting, prayer, and for those like you who are willing to share their story! We read to know we are not alone, right?
    Love Jenny B.

  3. Thanks for sharing such a personal story! I grew up with the philosophy that if you take medication you must be broken and that you have the ability to control yourself. Oh how wrong I was! After years of depression-- I finally had to admit that it runs in my family and that I am not weak for needing a little help.

    You are a strong woman, Amanda.

  4. You are a wise lady. I so enjoy the spirit of everything you share. I'm glad you are slowing down and taking time for yourself. Wishing you the very best. And if I could a great big hug.

  5. i can't imagine the anxiety you must have felt. i really needed to read this post today. lately i have most definitely let fear win over my faith. i'm so thankful for you and your family's wonderful example. i'm so glad to hear you're doing so much better! love you.

  6. Oh Amanada! You are beautiful and wonderful and this post really touches me deeply. Thank you for taking the courage to write it, to share it, and be real. What a blessing you are.
    I am certainly SO glad that it is helping and that you are doing better!!! Bless you dear friend.
    I do believe that you are right fear is real and is something we have in life and in no way weakens us, unless we let it paralyze us. Thank you for helping me see more clearly the path to face my fears and conquer with faith in heaven, especially my Father in heaven!
    I love you! Your heart writings have blessed my life in ways untold.
    Thank you! I want to take courage and walk forward facing ever the light and letting the atonement lift and carry me at times!
    Bless you! Bless you! May heaven ever be near and bless you! <3

  7. My name is Alta and I came to your blog several months ago from my dear friend Julie's blog. Julie's son died at the end of September and I had my 8th miscarriage (this time at 20 weeks) a few weeks later. I had been taking a tiny dose of Zoloft since the 7th miscarriage a few years prior but when my baby died I found myself slipping into the darkness of anxiety and depression and so my doctor and I added some Wellbutrin. I thank Heavenly Father every day for these miracles of medicine which make it so I can function. I have learned that I am the same me with the added ability to cope with life. I know that feeling of panic that you have no control over. It is horrible and then you feel so silly because it isn't "real". Thank you for sharing your experience, I am lifted by your words.

  8. Amanda,
    I love reading your blog and hearing about your journey...I am Dale and Marian Rees's daughter, (just older than Cathy), and my Mom had told me about your son Bennett dying. I am so sorry for everything you are going through. You are an inspiration to so many. You are such a talented writer it amazes me. Thanks for sharing things that we are sometimes ashamed to admit. Your blog is a gift..I check everyday to see if you have writen!! Hang in there..there are many cheering for you!

  9. You, my friend, amaze and inspire. Thank you for being real.

  10. You really are the most amazing person I have ever met. Honestly. The. Most. Amazing. Thank you for being you.

  11. I came across your site & loved your honesty. Thank you. Your Bennett is the age of my Angel Grandson.I am so sorry for your loss.
    My daughter has been having anxiety attacks & I am sending her to your site to read this.
    She lost her son Ollie, who passed away just last March.
    My only grandson, 2 year old Ollie drowned in a washing machine. Death is so harsh sometimes. When we share each others grief, it makes it seem lighter. My daughters story is here: hebbsters.blogspot.com
    She really wants to raise awareness about this danger. She (or I) NEVER thought a sweet, curious, helpful, child's death could be caused by a washing machine. If she can help one mother or grandmother save a child by doing their laundry different, then hopefully no one else has to leave the hospital without their most precious thing.
    We are mourning the loss of our grandchild AND trying to help our children get through each day.It's pretty tough. I'm sure you know.
    I have just started a blog for grandparents who lost a grandchild.
    I am just feeling this need to connect with other grandmas & grandpas.
    Sending love & hugs to you.

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Thank you for being a part of my journey. I appreciate your supportive and healing comments. Here's to a Promise of Sunshine!