Hearts give out.

WAKE UP, YOU’RE DYING.

Pounding heart. Beating against its cage. The first wave comes. It feels like nausea but you know it’s not. That clamminess. That intense chill. It washes over you. It flows through you. Hands and feet are ice cold. Your stomach is fine. It’s not nausea.  Because that would be easy. That would be a relief. No, this is much different. Much worse.

You have to distract yourself. Think about anything else other than the flutter. Other than the chattering that’s begun. Other than your shivering jaw.

YOU CAN’T IGNORE IT, JEFF. YOU’RE RISKING YOUR LIFE BY IGNORING IT.

You put on the TV. It takes forever to launch Netflix, switch profiles, find the shows you watch. Skip the dramas and the action shit. Find the comedy. It takes forever. Every nerve in your body is a live wire. Your hands are ice. Your heart is interrupting itself.

Can your heart take much more?

YOUR HEART WON’T BE ABLE TO TAKE MUCH MORE.

Another wave crashes over you. You feel it all the way up to your hairline.

You finally find a show you love with episodes you haven’t seen.

THESE ARE ACTORS YOU’VE NEVER MET. PLAYING PRETEND YEARS AGO. THESE IMAGES MOVE, BUT THEY’RE DEAD. THEY CAN’T HELP YOU. THEY’LL PLAY ON WHILE YOU DIE. THEY MIGHT STILL BE PLAYING WHEN YOUR FAMILY FINDS YOU. FINDS YOUR BODY. BY THEN, YOUR BODY WILL BE AS COLD AS YOUR HANDS. 

I’m fine. I’m healthy.

AS FAR AS YOU KNOW. BUT WHAT DO YOU KNOW? IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE ROOM THAT I DON’T SEE? IT’S DARK, BUT NOT THAT DARK. NO. IT’S JUST ME AND YOU. AND I’M NOT THE ONE IGNORING THE EVIDENCE WE BOTH CAN FEEL. 

I’m only 43. And my heart is strong. I’m not overweight, I exercise regularly. I eat reasonably. I can run a 5k right now no problem.

HEARTS GIVE OUT. 

Mine won’t. Not tonight.

BUT IT WILL. EVERYONE’S HEART STOPS. PEOPLE YOUNGER THAN YOU DROP DEAD ALL THE TIME. UNEXPECTEDLY. YOU WILL JUST BE A SAD STORY TOMORROW. DOCTORS WILL USE THE WORD “UN-DIAGNOSED.” YOUR KIDS WILL BE DEVASTATED. 

You get up and go to the cabinet that has the pills that weren’t prescribed to you. But they work. You hate needing them. Again. After everything was fine today. But you need them. You can’t do this. Your family upstairs can’t do this. You’re just as removed from them as the people on the TV.

NO ONE HERE CAN HELP YOU. EVERYONE DIES. AND WHEN YOU DIE, IT’S A ONE WAY TRIP THAT YOU MAKE ALONE.

The pill is so small. You still need to drink a lot of water to wash it down because your throat feels too narrow for your tiny savior.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THAT PILL, JEFF? DO YOU KNOW? YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. YOU’RE AN IDIOT! WHAT IF IT’S RAVAGING YOUR LIVER? THIS SHORT-TERM SAFETY MIGHT BE KILLING YOU. ALL OF THIS OTHER SHIT MIGHT BE MANAGEABLE WITH MEDITATION OR POSITIVE THINKING OR GREEN FUCKING TEA FOR ALL YOU KNOW. BUT RIGHT NOW YOU’VE PUT VERY REAL CHEMICALS IN YOUR BODY THAT MAY HAVE VERY REAL DEVASTATING EFFECTS. WAY TO GO, GENIUS. YOU REALLY SHOULD GO TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM. RIGHT NOW. IF YOU WAIT TO LONG IT WILL BE TOO LATE. PRETTY SOON IT WILL BE TOO Late. But If You Go Now, There May Still Be Time To Delay Death. They Can even maybe revive you if death comes.

The pill is working. It’s going to the adrenaline distribution center and cutting off the spigot. It’s unplugging the alarms. It’s tapping the disarm codes into the command center of the sympathetic nervous system. Just like it did yesterday. And the few days before that. Always at night. Always in the dark.

Exhaustion is removing you from yourself. Just as you were removed from the people in the TV and the people sleeping upstairs. It’s a welcome haze and you embrace it, too tired to cry.

but how many more nights can you take? how many more pills do you have? what is this doing to your heart? if you don’t find some way to stop this from beginning, then there can only be one end. 

Protected sleep comes. But after that, tomorrow. And tomorrow night.

The TV plays on.

 

17 Comments

  1. YES!! I have thought that I was having a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism many times. I have wanted to have an MRI of my entire body, just in case.

    And the pills don’t always work. Or they take too long.

    High five, brother.

  2. Ah, panic attack, my old friend. You’ve got it exactly right.

    Only I’ve never gotten any sort of prescription, so it’s just gut it out until the neurons stop screaming at me.

  3. I am always, ALWAYS amazed by you. We’ve talked about it but know that I’m always around for you.

  4. You know my history– I am an example that you do heal. It takes time and support. But the first part, reaching out, is the hardest and you did it! My hand is extended and many others will too. Reach out, the hands will hold you up.

  5. Yup. I posted about my own health issues recently and it’s so hard to get into words, mostly because it forces you to actually address the problem–at least in one single way. Breathe. Day to day. Hang in there.

    • jeffandjill

      01/06/2016 at 5:09 pm

      Yeah, I shared your post and I loved it. And I began worrying instantly about my hemoglobin levels. Both you and Lisa posted some great stuff and that made it easier for me to post mine. And since posting and reading the feedback I’ve felt much more solid. Much more validated. And far less alone. Thank you.

  6. Sleepless in America

    01/09/2016 at 12:30 am

    Funny I should read this when I have woken up tonight with heart pounding out of my chest. AGAIN. I don’t have drugs to turn to – who would prescribe me sedatives? Doubtful in today’s world I think to myself – so I calm myself with a glass of white wine that works for a few hours. I asked my college student when I woke up – do you ever wake up with your heart thumping? No, he said. Yet anxiety runs in our family pretty severely. I’m told my nighttime fears are irrational, but they seem rational to me. Not that there has to be a specific fear – I can wake up with night terrors over nothing specific. It’s become just a part of life.

    One helpful thing I’ve found lately is Claire Weekes, a dr. from the mid-1900s, whose books on anxiety look helpful – her philosophy was to go with it. Don’t fight the anxiety, ride through it so the fight/flight response doesn’t get so triggered, and break the adrenaline cycle. There are several youtube vids of her also. She called it nervous illness.

    I envy people who don’t seem to have one ornery brain chemical in their noggin… 🙂

    • jeffandjill

      01/09/2016 at 9:55 am

      Thank you so much for the info and for sharing your personal story. I’ll look her up. I had the same thought: what if I rode this wave instead of trying to swim against it? It’s crazy that there are so many people suffering. Just talking with my family, I didn’t realize how many were going through this. I feel bad obviously. Did they not tell me? Or was I not listening? I hope you find peace.

  7. Look into EMDR. Process the shit out of that shit. Life is fucking hard, and you’re storing the trauma in your body. Let your brain and your body excrete it. Then enjoy as over the month, the load lightens little by little. ??

  8. It’s like we’re related or something.

    • jeffandjill

      02/17/2016 at 10:49 am

      I’m sorry that this post is close to home for you. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But, for me, it really helped when people reached out and said they feel this. So thank you for commenting. You’re giving me some of my brain back. You’re giving me a bullet against anxiety.

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