Close Call to a Fall (Part 1)

Vector silhouette of family.

Even if you are on medication, taking all of your supplements and eating right you still can run yourself in the wrong direction and end up on the verge of another panic attack. It’s true. I know. I just did this to myself and here is how it went down…

I’ve had a great summer. I’m a stay-at-home mom with six kids. We are an adoptive family and there is a lot of let’s say…energy in our home. With five boys and one girl it can at times, okay every day get a little crazy. Every day.

At the beginning of the summer I did very well pacing myself. I went to bed at a decent hour. I scheduled one thing a day. Mornings until lunch were at home time and afternoon was for swimming or the park. In July we took a road trip to Wisconsin (from Washington State) and my husband was along and did most of the driving. We saw family, hit water parks, visited national parks, camped in cabins and had a really great time.

When we got back I still paced myself fairly well. Now this is my opinion and family and friends may strongly disagree but for the most part I felt like I was balancing life and anxiety like a Kung Fu master. After all I was feeling fine right?

In August I took another road trip with my four youngest boy’s ages 8-13. It was a two day drive to Denver and it was just me this time. That meant I drove the whole way, I was solely responsible for the safety of my four children and the atmosphere in my van for two 8 hour driving days there and two 8 hour driving days back. Considering my situation I felt it went quite well. We arrived at my brother’s in good spirits. I had no sense of anxiety but of course I was tired. We had a wonderful time. I took my oldest school shopping, we went swimming, my brother took us boating and tubing and we watched a couple movies. I was honest with how I was feeling as far as my anxiety and we modified our days accordingly.

Toward the end of our stay we took a beautiful drive into Rocky Mountain National Park. The plan was to hike into a mountain lake so we parked, ate lunch (shoved in my van because it poured rain for 20 minutes) and headed up the trail. What I didn’t expect was for my 10 year old son to help amp me up, meaning trigger my anxiety.

Before we went on the hike I pre-medicated my son. He has asthma and it is well under control but before any exercise we always pre-medicate him because exercise can be a trigger for his asthma to flare up. He did okay for a little bit but after awhile I took a closer look at him and he was panting hard. We sat down and I accessed the situation. He said his breathing was fine but he wasn’t doing so good, meaning he was very tired. I hadn’t really factored in the elevation. A lot of people struggle in Denver with altitude sickness or just plain old fatigue. It’s just not the same air when you are up in the mountains.

This went on for the duration of the short hike. We would walk a ways and then have to stop to rest. The whole time I could feel my anxiety crawling through my body to take over my mind. Was I killing my son on this hike? Here we were in the remote mountains with no cell phone and no medical care close by. I didn’t have my husband around to help balance my thinking. My head knew that he wasn’t having any asthmatic symptoms. I’ve seen them many times so I know what they look like. My head knew he was just tired. He is a lover of art and video games…not nature.

It wasn’t far or even that steep to get to the lake. When we were about 5 minutes away we sat down and I said we were done. My son was fine. His breathing was fine. I on the other hand was not. My brother went on to see how far it was to get to our destination. My son rested and declared he could do the rest of the hike. He didn’t have any wheezing, he had no complaints about his breathing but he was just super tired. Really it was just the thin air. I kept telling myself he would be fine but anxiety kept hitting my mind with bad thoughts over and over like someone desperately trying to break down a door to get in. Finally we made it to the lake and my son took off to connect with his cousins and brothers and was laughing and playing in a tree and having a grand old time. I on the other hand stood and stared out at the mountain lake and wished for some kind of pill to make the craziness in my mind go away. I breathed deep and settled down. It was all going to be okay. It was already okay. It had been okay. I was okay. He was okay. It was okay.

After we had taken pictures and pretty much ruined any peace for other visitors with our children and their antics we headed back down the trail with no problems at all. My son never needed to stop and didn’t complain one time about being tired. We loaded up and drove back through the park, stopped in Estes for an amazing burger at Penelope’s, delicious homemade ice cream at a local candy shop and then purchased over priced taffy to end our fine day.

The next day was spent resting and packing up for my trip home. We went to a discount movie in the evening with all of us as a final “hurrah” in Denver. The next morning came too soon and finally it was time to depart. It’s never easy saying goodbye to the ones you love so with a see you later I set my eyes on the road and headed back home to Spokane. I headed back to what would later be what I refer to as my close call. My close call to going back down the pit. A place I swore I would never allow myself to go again.

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