When The Wheels Fell Off, Part III

Trigger Warning: this post may contain content that can trigger a shift in mood, comfort, or mental status. Proceed at your own risk.

A few months ago, DA invited me out to his cabin for the weekend to help him get some stuff ready for the summer. I only thought briefly about it before saying yes. I’ve always enjoyed myself at his cabin and enjoy working, riding bikes, or just hanging out. This time, the main focus was to clear deadfall from the dirtbike trails he maintains on his property. Lots of hard work, and hard work helps me feel better. It seemed like a great test for how I was doing.

He picked me up at 10AM and we headed to his cabin. As soon as we arrived, we got to work. We finished putting his dirtbike back together, changed the oil in his quad, and started in on the deadfall. Everything was going well. We worked until dark, then had supper.

After supper, we listened to music and talked about all kinds of things. At around 1130PM, he headed off to his room and I unbundled my sleeping bag and started to get ready for bed. A flash caught my eye – lightning in the distance. Not a big deal, I thought – I’ve enjoyed thunderstorms since I was a little kid watching them through the window with my mom.

The lightning and thunder came closer. I thought about how I wouldn’t be home until the next day; the thought made me uncomfortable. Discomfort changed to anxiety as the storm started to boom around the cabin, shaking the walls. Anxiety started to turn to panic, which caught me completely off guard. I should have been enjoying myself with the storm raging outside – after all, I was dry and safe. I turned on my little tripod flashlight and shone it at the ceiling to light up the area a bit (I can start to panic if I forget where I am) but it didn’t help. For the next four and a half hours, I was either terrified or outright panicking. My nighttime medications weren’t even putting a dent into it, either. I was wide awake and scared. Storm after storm rumbled through and all I wanted was to be at home, hiding in the basement with J. Being afraid of the storm was so foreign to me that it fed into my panic, too – what had I done that had broken that part of me?

Eventually, the storms died out into the distance and I fell into a nightmare-filled sleep. I woke up a few hours later feeling drained and anxious. Talking with DA and getting back to clearing trails helped a lot, but I just couldn’t shake both the anxiety and the shame I felt.

After we finished the deadfall, DA and I cleaned up and headed home. He dropped me off at home and instead of the instant relief I expected to feel, I still felt anxious and scared. Talking to J helped a lot but I just couldn’t shake it.

Over the next few nights, nightmares kept me from getting much sleep and I fell deeper into my anxiety and panic. I finally realized that I needed some extra help. J got in touch with Dr W and he had a bed ready for me 24 hours later. Ten days after that, I was out and feeling much better.

I think the problem was that I took on too much stuff at once. I hadn’t been away from home prior to that, and staying overnight was probably too much. The added stress from staying overnight probably didn’t help me deal with the storm, and the lack of sleep over the next while magnified all of the negative things going on and leaving me in really bad shape.

We haven’t had a good storm at home yet this summer, so I’m not sure if I’m going to enjoy it or want to hide out under the furniture in the basement. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen.

Dr C and Dr W wanted me to make sure that I realized that – even though it was really rough – I went out to DA’s cabin and stayed overnight. It was quite an accomplishment for someone who’s uncomfortable leaving the house. They’re right, but I sure could’ve done without all the drama.

DA has some more projects that he was asking if I could give him a hand with, and J has offered to drive out and pick me up in the evening so I didn’t have to stay overnight. I’m not sure what’s going to happen but I hope that I’ll be able to help him out.

Stay safe!

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