My Life With OCD nOCD

My Life With OCD nOCD

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Let me first begin with stating that my website, is not about OCD. My hopes that if I can get my message out there I can help someone else out.

When you have OCD you don’t have many quiet moments in your head. For me, OCD is often like a song playing over and over in a loop. Only the song isn’t a happy pop song.

Story of A Girl

Well…sometimes it is. But, I’ll get to that later.

The thoughts aren’t about me doing bad things, but they’re never pleasant. Most obsessions are based on deep fears — “What if I or someone I love gets sick?” — or basically the worst things one can think of, like blasphemy, racism, suicide, murder, rape, contamination, animal abuse, politics, torture … and the thoughts are often things I can never control.

Here is something that people with OCD can tell you-you are usually NOT a neat freak! Some of you might remember the show Monk, about a private eye whose OCD makes him a brilliant detective. I never felt as if I was being represented when watching the show because – COMPULSIONS DIFFER!

Monk

OCD doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neat and particular. Those of you into reality shows: Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? Hoarding is often a symptom of OCD. Compulsions vary. Sometimes they correspond to fears, like washing your hands because you’re scared of contamination. Sometimes there’s no real logic behind them, like when you have to jump over a line on the floor because otherwise everybody you know will die horribly and it will be all your fault. Or, like Hannah Horvath from Girls describing herself having to masterbate 8 times a night to starve off diseases of the mind and body.

Andy from Parks and Rec is my Celeb Crush

Many don’t have physical compulsions at all, instead suffering from “purely obsessional” OCD, where all they have are obsessions. And some people with diagnosed OCD even obsessively doubt the fact that they have OCD. How’s that for a mindfuck?

OCD, at heart, is an anxiety disorder.

People who suffer from OCD know that there is something wrong with them. One of the many differences between OCDers and people who are just “quirky” — besides a role on a major sitcom — is shame. Let’s be clear: If you regularly check your pockets to confirm that you’ve still got your car keys, or if you prefer your sandwiches with the crust cut off, or if you only eat red Starbursts, you’re not suffering from OCD. Those are just quirks, and also the pink Starburst is obviously the best. People like quirks when they’re cute, fun, and harmless. When they involve licking light switches or hitting yourself over the head with your shoe, people just think you’re “crazy.”

But you’ll believe it of yourself as well. You’ll be standing in your bathroom at three in the morning, scrubbing your pocket change because you’ve been awake for hours wondering if it could contaminate your clothes and make you a danger to the people around you, and you’ll be unable to stop, but you’ll know that what you’re doing is crazy.

OCD is “ego dystonic,” which means “out of sync with your ideal self. OCDers don’t even get any joy out of their compulsions. You don’t want to make sure the door is locked 25 times in one night, you have to. It makes you feel better. It makes you feel so good! It’s a relief from the constant thoughts in your brain. But, the relief is only temporary.

Sadly, it’s rarely just OCD. For example, I am also diagnosed with panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. Panic attacks, Tourette syndrome, hypochondria, body dysmorphic disorder, and eating disorders are all so-called OCD sister disorders. Meaning, they are all on the same spectrum. They’re diagnoses in their own right that exist on their own but also hang around in the background while OCD messes with your mind.

OCD also often coexists with depression. This is partly because of chemicals and genetics, and also because constant obsessing and feeling forced to keep everything you’ve ever owned to the point of isolation can be pretty fucking depressing. Studies show that having OCD from an early age tends to make you more susceptible to depression because it wears on you so much.

Dr. Anne Marie Albano, clinical site director of New York-Presbyterian’s Youth Anxiety Center, and a leading voice in child anxiety research, has found that the condition often takes root around age four, and can bloom into depression by high school, leading to substance abuse and even suicide. The clearest path to treating it is to “remove the stigma around anxiety with parents,” she says. Instead of hiding the problem, explore treatment—the most successful of which she has found to be “a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.”

Which brings me to my own story of OCD. I mentioned in an earlier blog that it was at age four that my parents realized that there may not be something right with me. I talked about my generalized anxiety issues, but it is only until now that I am telling my journey of OCD. My Mom died when I was 14, and that was when my OCD became extremely debilitating.

I am the baby of the family. I have three older brothers, all eleven and ten years older than me. It’s Brent, (the oldest,) and then Dirk and Kirk, (the twins,). Because my Dad was sick too when my mom passed, social services came in the night she died and told my family that my oldest brother Brent would have to be my guardian or I would be handed over to the state.

Brent became my guardian, and ensued was a whirl-wind of change. He was only twenty-four years old, and he was not mature enough to be a guardian to a teenage girl who had just lost her mom. He didn’t know that he was supposed to take me to my psychiatrist that I had been seeing since I was eight years old.

So, something I loved to do was the alphabet in sign language. I would be in school and I would have my hand near my side and I would do sign language. And it felt so good. If I were stressed I would tug on my ear 4 times and then slap my side with my right hand, and then I would do the alphabet in sign language. I would do the alphabet walking down the halls, I would do the alphabet in gym class, I would do the alphabet in class while I was supposed to be writing notes. My hand felt like it was going to fall off. My grades were starting to be effected. I was always a straight A student, and at the time I came home with all F’s. Oh, and kids are super cruel anyways, they are extra cruel when you are doing things that are bringing attention to yourself.

At night time the song, “Story of a Girl,” would play over and over in my head. One night I became so desperate for sleep that I started tugging on my ears. I tugged on my ears so hard they started to tear and bleed, and I put a cotton ball in my ears. The school counselor finally stepped in. And when she did she threatened my brother that she was going to call social services. My brother got me back into my normal doctor, and I got back on my meds. I also started talking to a grief counselor.

While my anxiety and OCD was not cured, and it was definitely not the last time I hurt myself or someone else, I was able to sleep better. And I was getting better grades. OCD is treatable.

There have been better years than others. The year I miscarried the twins I didn’t leave the house for a year.

Recently my OCD was becoming really uncontrollable again. There was a lot of changes going on in my life, and I would get stuck on words in conversation. For example, I just started a new position at work. My team was in training and we were reading out loud and my boss got to me and I started my sentence and said, “The attorney stated stated stated stated…” I went on as if nothing had happened, but you could tell there was a confusion in the room. I left the room and went to the bathroom, and cried in embarrassment. No one likes being the New Girl, but when you feel like you are different or there is something wrong with you go home and you feel ashamed. And like you are worthless.

The good news is that OCD and its tag-along disorders are treatable. There are all kinds of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms. And since the spectrum disorders are linked, one treatment can sometimes cover all symptoms. OCD is not something that can be cured, but it can be controlled.

More recently a site reached out to me that is called nOCD. nOCD is an app that was created by someone who suffers from OCD themselves. The founder, Stephen Smith, (a total cutie BTDUBS,) is on a mission to help people with OCD and to take the shame away from the disorder. nOCD is a fully customizable app which incorporates clinically proven OCD treatment techniques (we are not creating a revolutionary new therapy, instead, we are revolutionizing the DELIVERY of an existing form of therapy – ERP – which we already know to be highly effective for OCD).

Here is a link which provides an overview of Exposure and Response Prevention, the type of therapy which is incorporated into nOCD.

nOCD provides real-time tracking of a wide range of metrics, including time spent doing ERP exercises, anxiety levels during exercises and during general use of the app, location/time of day of OCD episodes, and much more. All your personal information is stored on a HIPPA compliant secure server.

nOCD allows you to export this objective data directly to your therapist if you choose to do so. This was something I was extremely impressed by. When I see my doctor, it was problematic since self-reporting is subjective and OCD patients commonly doubt some of the most basic things about themselves or about whatever they are doing. In addition mOCD has a large community on social media @treatmyOCD. I caught myself in the middle of a trigger last week, and the community was so supportive.

nOCD is available for FREE on the App Store (Android version coming soon!). nOCD is determined to bring high-quality, affordable treatment to anyone who needs it.

To download, please click on this link:

nOCD

My First Mother’s Day

My First Mother’s Day

Today is my first Mother’s Day with a Child. I spent MANY years dreading Mother’s Day. Not only have I not had a Mom to celebrate it with since I was 14, but, Mother’s Day for me, for many years was a reminder of my failures as a woman. A reminder that my body hated me, and that I hated my body.

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For most of my twenties I would hear friends complain of late nights with their baby and diaper rash, colic, and teething. And I would get super annoyed because that was ALL I wanted! I am ashamed to admit it now, but, I ruined several friendships with wonderful women in my twenties, because I resented them SO much for being able to have children. Or I told them I was going to their baby shower only to back out five minutes before hand. Or, I was a being a bitch and brought them a bottle of whisky to their baby shower as their gift! I pride myself on being a good friend, but, I was not a good friend to a lot of people when they needed me most. And to those people I would like to say I am extremely sorry.

When Ari first came home with us August 29, 2016, something special happened. All of a sudden we were receiving emails and messages from people all over the Country from women who had the same struggles that Trenton and I had. Even two messages from Canada. We were giving hope to the hopeless. The women like me- women who for nine years went on diets, took hormone treatments, did IVF, had miscarriages…

I just want to say that YOU are my people-The Mom’s to furbabies, the try as you might, the never-give-upper’s, – I GET you!

The Mother’s to babies that never made it out of the womb- I GET YOU!

Something that we don’t talk enough about as a society are miscarriages. Miscarriages are one of the worst things any woman will ever experience. A woman should never feel shamed because she is speaking about it. I can’t tell you the number of times I went to talk about it and the room became dull and hushed, and all of a sudden it was like, #ThatAwkwardMoment when Mae brings up her miscarriage to her closest friends and family members because she needs someone to talk to about it, and the room falls silent because MY PAIN, is too much for that person to take five seconds and have EMPATHY for!

The worst thing any one has ever said to me in my life happened during a time when neither Trenton or I were doing well. We both had MAJOR depression issues to work through, and I didn’t even have a job. So, here is a woman who has had SEVERAL children and she says to me after miscarrying the twins, “Mae, let’s be real-it was for the best. You do NOT need to bring a baby in to your situation.”

It never occurred to that person that we were in a bad situation because we couldn’t move past the notion that we may NEVER be parents! Financially, the decks were stacked against us, and our bodies weren’t cooperating. Trenton may never get to carry on a legacy. Trenton is my best friend in the world, the love of my life, and I couldn’t give him what he wanted more than anything on this planet!

Adoption. I urge MY people to please consider it. There are so many babies in our Country and in the WORLD that need a home. They maybe have been placed in to an orphanage, but that is YOUR child, and they are out there WAITING for you to come bring them home! We also need to work on lowering the cost of adoption. It is a completely unrealistic amount even for someone like Trenton and I. I still want to adopt more kids but I don’t know if it’s going to happen because of the cost of adoption. There are people like me and Trenton that can afford their children once they are home, but they can’t afford the huge lump sum that may have to give to an adoption agency, or home studies, and lawyers.

There are a lot of really good people out there that WANT to adopt, but most likely will never consider because they know going in to it that it is going to be really expensive! Or they only live in a one bedroom apartment and live paycheck to paycheck, so moving OUT of that apartment in order to have a home study done may seem completely unrealistic. It’s not. I’m pleading with you to not give up hope. I am pleading with you to never give up your dream of becoming a Mother or a Father!

I’m also going to be so blunt as to say it-but I am also urging some of you young Mother’s to consider placing your child up to a Family that is like Trenton and I. I’m always talking about my story, but a few of you may have had a hiccup while writing your story. There may be partying you still want to do, places you still wanted to travel, or you may have wanted to be married first. Stories you NEED to tell. In the pit of your stomach you know whether or not you want to keep your child. Placing a child up for adoption is one of the most generous and selfless acts you can ever do for someone else. It truly puts you in to Saint-Like Status in my book.

Thank you Leslie Graham for what you have done for our family. Thank you for introducing us to the biological mother Sarah Butterworth. Happy Mother’s Day, Sarah. And happy Mother’s Day to you, Leslie.

Which brings us to our little growing guy. Lucas Aristotle Hagan. Oh, the wonders this World still has yet to hold for you. I am truly the luckiest girl on the face of the Planet! I truly believe that everything is predetermined. It’s not all random chaos. No one knows this, but the first morning Lucas and I woke up in our home, I had held him on my chest the whole night. I had read that was one way to bond with the baby. It helps because his heart beat syncs up with yours. I’ll never forget it, but I woke up and I forgot he was there! His little eyes peaked open, and I kissed him on his cheeks. And I said, “Good Morning, baby!” And, I remember tears started flowing from my eyes. I turned on my side and cradled him in my arms. “Thank you, God! Thank you for finally answering my prayers!” I belted out. I kissed Lucas Aristotle and sobbed in to my pillow, and then I kissed Lucas Aristotle and I thanked God some more. This went on for a good 10 minutes. And it hit me-I’m a Mom. After eight years with the love of my life, one laparoscopic surgery, 3 different fertility drugs, 4 IVF treatments- I’m a Mom.

And boy, was this kid worth the wait. I know I’m biased, but he IS special. He smiles and laugh more than any baby I have EVER seen! In fact, I don’t even need an alarm clock anymore! Most mornings I wake up to him just laughing SUPER hard! And I have NO idea what he’s laughing at! And then he starts babbling, “Da-Da-Dad!” Lol, because that’s his way of letting us know- Hey! I’m ready to eat!

When Lucas Aristotle first came home I had a talk with him the first day. I said, “Look, I have never been around babies. I tried reading the baby books in 5 days-but you’re going to have to be patient with me. We’re going to have to figure this out together.” And, that’s the honest to God’s truth. I didn’t have nine months to prepare for him. I had 5 days. So, when he came home-a lot of it I was just winging it! Now, about the 4th month was when Trenton and I had figured out a schedule that worked for both of all of us.

And, he never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes, I’ll catch myself staring at him and I’ll think about how tiny he was when he first came home, (3 lbs, 5 oz.) and now here we are 4 days away from being ten months old and he’s so long and big now!

This morning I walked in to his bedroom and did our morning wake up song, “Good Morning! Good Morrrning! It’s great to stay up late! Good Morning! Good Morning! To You!” And he smiles, and I go to pick him up to get him a bottle, and he grabs my hand before I could put it behind his back. (BOY! He’s GREAT at grabbing! I mean he is STRONG!) He takes my hand and places it on his face. I know he is trying to put my finger in his mouth because we’re teething right now. Instead, I start to stroke his cheek. I look him in the eyes and say, “Your Dad is the greatest love of my life, and you are going to be my greatest accomplishment.”

At it’s core level, Mother’s Day to me, has always been a celebration of us as women. The extra hours we have to work to support our families. The guilt we feel for having to work instead of getting to be there with our child. The sacrifices we make for our families, the quiet secrets we carry as women to protect our families. The innate ability we have to nurture. We are tough, ladies. We really are. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there. This is ALL of our day!

Not Your Average Mom

Not Your Average Mom

Hi! My name is Maegan Hagan. My friends call me Mae. I am not your average Mom, and I am not your average wife. I curse too much, I am incredibly self destructive, slightly narcissistic, I always am the last to leave the party, I am incredibly impatient, and I am a controlling perfectionist.

I am also incredibly smart. I make shit work. If I love you, I love you hard, and I push you to be a better person. I am trustworthy. If you tell me something I take it with me to the grave. I have ambition. When I hit a goal I don’t just stop there. I keep going. And last but not least, I TRY and get along with everyone.

There are reason’s that I am the way I am, and I will eventually tell you that story. But, for tonight-I’m telling you my mission. My mission is to give hope to the hopeless. My life changed in 5 days.

See, my husband and I are best friends. We are soul-mates. But, for 9 years, our lives were on hold. For nine years we had 12 miscarriages. Just when we had decided to call it quits, a woman, who I will be referring to as S.L., found me on Facebook, and told us she had been following our story. She told us she had a baby in the NICU, and that she was giving him up for adoption. 5 days later and Lucas Aristotle Hagan was home. 5 days. And now 8 months later, and our entire lives have been changed. For the best!

And that is why I am writing this blog. It is all about my life as a Wife, and Mother, and writer. And how I am trying to be the best mom and wife I can possibly be! I am here to tell you our story, from the day Trenton Matthew Hagan and I met, to the day we married- and everything in between.

I am here to tell you the heartbreaks and the success. And hopefully inspire you along the way. My name is Mae, and we are The Hagans. This is our story.

(This is the video of the day we brought Lucas home,).

Posts of Note Week 19

Posts of Note Week 19

Thank you so much!

Flying Through Water

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Rough….rough…ROUGH….week people. But here are some posts that made me

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An App That Pays You To Walk!

An App That Pays You To Walk!

sweatcoin-1There are plenty of fitness apps and activity trackers that can count your steps, but now there’s one that will actually pay you for the miles you log.

Sweatcoin, which is based in London, awards its users with digital currency — one “coin” for every 1,000 steps you walk or run while using the app. Save up enough coins and you can exchange them for real-life products and services, like workout gear or a yoga class. Coins can even be sent to friends or donated to buy items for charity.

Sweatcoin is part of a growing trend in digital fitness apps that offer rewards the more you exercise. Apps called Bitwalking and Gympact also pay users in virtual currency, while Charity Miles turns steps into charitable donations for the cause of your choice.

The Sweatcoin app is free to download and has no ads. It is currently available on the App Store for iPhones; and GooglePlay Store for Android.

And just so we’re clear- this is me while walking!

Work!

 

Here’s the link to the app:

Sweat Coin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Lucas Aristotle/ Dear Dad

Dear Lucas Aristotle/ Dear Dad

​Dear Lucas Aristotle Hagan,
This is a picture of me and your Grandad Dennis D. Knight on my wedding Day to your Father, Trenton.
Dennis Knight was my best friend in the entire world,  and he would have been so happy to see you. He would have spoiled you SO much!
Dad was great with kids! He spoiled your cousin Brayden. Every morning he would wake him up and make him eggs and ketchup. It’s disgusting to think about, lol, but your cousin loved it.
And your other cousin Madi…when she was a baby…she had a room that had a theme of ivy all over it. Dad took a table that he found on the side of the road, and he completely refurbished in to treasure. He took ivy wallpaper and put it on the top of the table. He just wanted a place for his granddaughter to sit and play.
He loved his Grandkids SO much! I wonder the sweet things he would have done for you.
Every morning when I was a little girl in 6th grade, he’d wake me up at 5 am and make me hot chocolate.  He would add milk and whip cream and he would make it extra fat! Lol! We would talk about my day and what was going on in school, and then, he would drive me 45 minutes out of district. Because it was a better school than the one in my area.
He would pick me up and we would talk and talk and talk some more! He would have pizza flavored combos and apple juice. Lol, he really loved to spoil us with food!

Like, there was this one time a boy broke up with me in middle school,  and Poppy walked 30 minutes to Walmart and got me Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a Dawson’s Creek poster to hang in my room! 😂😂😂
He was the best Dad in the world- next to your Dad, of course! My promise to you is you will always have awesome memories like that with your Dad. And of my Dad. Because he would have worshipped the ground you walked on!

Love Always,

Mommy
Dear Dad,
It’s now been close to 6 years since you have been gone. The last year was a total whirl wind of emotions. I adopted a baby.  He is so precious he makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode with joy at times.

And then…Donald Trump was elected President! I went through a range of emotions to say the very least. I kept wanting to talk to you SO bad! I was angry and then angrier! I kept wanting to pick up the phone and ask you for advice. It was aweful! And I knew how sad and disappointed you would have been. And then I remember what you told me when I was 16. “The world can’t be changed in one night, baby steps.” So, I knew that I couldn’t change the situation, but I could be the strong a stubborn Young Woman you raised me to be. I protested. I went to Washington,  I marched, I sang. I helped organize rallies. He is under investigation now, and I really am hoping this goes somewhere.

Trenton is good. He is the happiest he has ever been. You always said he would make a great Father, and you were right. He still seems to not really know what he wants to do with his life. He still loves politics, but, maybe he can just be a great Dad like you were.

And, Abby is pregnant! Still haven’t seen Madi or Abby in a while but I saw a picture the other day and she looks breathe taking!

I got a new job within the bank…still haven’t been published again. I know it’s going to happen, but, I really hope more than anything that you are proud of the young woman I turned out to be. I will always love you no matter what. Thank you for always making me feel like I was somebody. Thank you for always loving me.
With Love Your Daughter,

Mae Hagan

PS Tell Stella I Love her so much!

Your Monday Assignment 

Your Monday Assignment 

 

Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.
Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)
Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.

    This is your assignment.

“How Do You Plan On Spending The Last Day Of Your Twenties?”

“How Do You Plan On Spending The Last Day Of Your Twenties?”

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“How do you plan on spending the last day of your twenties?”

The question hit me like a ton of bricks. A question asked by my husband as a loving gesture, left me sitting on my bed on the verge of tears. Today, May 27, 2017- is the last day I am ever going to be in my twenties. I don’t think anyone will ever understand the pressures that are placed on twenty-something girls. We live in a society that romanticizes the notion of being a girl living in her twenties. The twenties are supposed to be the best decade of our lives! It’s supposed to be the time we find out who we are, and we make friends, and we meet someone and fall in love. We are supposed to excel in our careers and all while maintaining the perfect body weight.

Only, I was always kind of a late bloomer. I fail by most people’s standards on a daily basis.

The Question: How do you plan on spending the last day of your twenties?

The answer: By letting my twenties go with dignity and class. I don’t plan on being sad! I’m going to have fun! I had an awesome twenties! I may not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but, I have some pretty amazing stories.

I met two US President’s, I met and married the love of my life in four months, I partied-a lot. I had fun sexual experiences! I did illegal things! I once did a dine and dash! I protested! In fact, I attended the largest protest in the History of the United States! And I was an organizer for it! I have been interviewed on the news several times! And I adopted a baby, despite being told I would NEVER have children!

Oh! And I laughed a LOT!

Most people measure their lives based on how big of a house they have, or how far along they are in their career or how nice their car is….but-wouldn’t we all be a lot happier if we measured our lives based on how much we are laughing? After all, I am kind of KNOWN for my laugh!

My Thirties are going to be awesome because I am going to tell my story. I am the writer. How am I going to spend the last day of my twenties? By ending a chapter to my and beginning another!

My Life With Generalized Anxiety/ OCD

My Life With Generalized Anxiety/ OCD

IMG_1370This is the story of the first time I had a panic attack. If you know someone with generalized. read. A panic attack can feel like you’re dying. Paralyzed with fear. You could also be lying awake at night for hours at a time knowing damn well you have to be up in a few hours when the baby wakes up. It’s a real condition, and the people suffering from it are often deeply riddled with fears, and patterns, and THEIR BRAINS THINK FASTER THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON. So much so, that if they aren’t doing enough of their routines or practicing in self care they could really spiral in to a deep depression.

I have Generalized Anxiety. One of my earliest memories is I’m five years old and my mom is driving up to a block buster and handing me a VHS Tape and asking me to run it in for her. And I sat there with the VHS in my hand and I said to her, “What if they won’t take it from me? Because I’m too little?” And she says, “They’ll take it from you. You just have to run in there and drop it in a slot!” And I say, “Okay, Mommy!” And I go to grab the door knob and I get scared again. “What if someone tries to abduct me??” At this point my Mom is like, “Just give me the damn tape! I’ll run it in myself!”

When I look back on it I think that’s really weird that I am so afraid. That I am so new to this world but there is something in my head telling me to be frightened. And it’s a very irrational fear.

So, fast forward  three years later and I have my very first panic attack. My mom and dad had me on the swim team and I was at a swim meet of all places. And the gun goes off and I jump in the water and take off–but half way down the lane I forget how to breathe. Which sounds crazy because, how does someone forget how to breathe? My mom notices that I’m going under water and she jumps in the pool after me.  And so does the life guard, and my coach. They pull me out of the water and my mom is patting me on my back and crying really hard. She screams, “What the hell was THAT?”

After everything boiled over that night my mom was kind of confused as to what to do. This was a time when people in middle class families didn’t really know anything about generalized anxiety issues.  Looking back on it now, my Dad definitely had generalized anxiety issues. If someone knocked on the door he would hide in the bedroom. We were threatened with a beating if we answered the door and told anyone he was home. My Dad wasn’t in to drugs, and he didn’t owe anyone money. So, why was he so afraid to answer the door? What was he afraid was going to be on the other side?

So, my Mom and my Coach get together the next day to talk about what happened. My mom asked my swim coach if he had ever seen anything like this before.  “No,” he says shaking his head, and he continues, ” There was a kid in my college dorm that would get overly worked up a lot. Kind of like Mae does. But, he never quit breathing.” I sat there listening to them as they continued talking about me as if I wasn’t in the room. My sleeping patterns, what I had been eating, did I cry a lot when I was a newborn? My mom tells him that I never sleep, I am extremely meticulous about what I eat, and yes, I was a very colicky baby.

Coach says he would feel more comfortable if I see a doctor before I swim again. My mom understands and she gets me in to see Dr. Barnard. So, we are about to go up to Dr. Barnard’s office. Dr. Barnard was a family doctor, and he saw my grandparents, my parents, and my brothers. I had heard a lot of stories about Dr. Barnard. His wife and daughter had died in a car wreck a few years ago. My Dad tells me he looks like Santa. He has a long grey beard, and he drives a 67 Chevy with a Cubs logo on the back. My Mom and I go up to his office and I say to my Mom, “Do you think Dr. Barnard is sad about his wife and daughter?” My moms eyes widen and she puts her hand around my mouth. “You can’t say anything about that to him! Do you understand?” I shook my head yes, but really I don’t understand! If it were me I would be really sad that my Wife AND my daughter died in a car crash! I would want someone to comfort me! I mean even doctor’s need to be comforted!

 So, we are seeing Dr, Barnard, and the doctor tells my Mom that I had a Panic Attack. He asked my Mom if anything has changed significantly in our home. My Mom says no, and I say, “Yes it has!” My mom starts to laugh it off and I say, “YES! IT! HAS!” Dr. Barnard starts to chuckle like he’s an uncomfortable Santa, and I say, “My brother Kirk ran away 3 months ago! Everyone has been yelling and mad at each other! And it’s all Kirk’s fault!”

Dr. Barnard looks at my Mom with sympathetic eyes. “Kirk ran away?” My mom starts to break down crying and she nods her head yes.

Dr. Barnard has me go to the waiting room and I hear them talking. My mom is crying, and Dr. Barnard is comforting her. My mom comes out of the office with a prescription, and Dr. Barnard motions for me to come back in to the office. I go back there and Dr. Barnard hands me a paper bag. “Some people are more high strung than others. And, that’s okay. They often go on to accomplish great things. But, when there patterns are thrown off, and their normal every routines change, they can feel like something is off. I sent your Mom home with a very low dose nerve pill for you. Only take it if you feel like you are having a hard time breathing. Also, when you start having a hard time breathing, pick up this bag and blow in to it.” Dr. Barnard shows me how to do it, and I start to panic while I’m breathing in to the bag. “Dr. Barnard! It’s making it worse!” I start to cry.  Dr. Barnard says calmly and slowly, “Look at me- look at what I’m doing…” I start to blow in to the bag with the same rhythm that Dr, Barnard is using. The same rhythm I have when I’m swimming. “I get it, Dr. Barnard! I get it!” Dr. Barnard gives me a high five!

My Mom and I leave and I can tell I’ve upset my Mom. She isn’t speaking to me. I’m trying to show her the cool trick with the bag and she isn’t saying anything. We sit in the car and my Mom starts to cry. She says, “Do you think I’m a bad Mom?” I shake my head no. “No! You’re a great Mom!” She says through muffled tears, “Then why did your brother run away? Why are you having panic attacks?” I shrug my shoulders, “I think I’ve always had panic attacks, Mom. I don’t think it’s you. I think there is something wrong with me. But, maybe it doesn’t have to be something wrong. Maybe it can be like a super power.” She starts to laugh and we go home.

This was not the first time I would have a major panic attack. My brother Kirk eventually came home about a year later, but he came home with a huge surprise. Dr. Barnard was my doctor until I was 21 years old. When I was 21 the DEA raided Dr. Barnard’s offices, and Dr. Barnard lost his practice. And my Mom- well-that story doesn’t have a happy ending. But, those are all stories for another day.