One year Anniversary 

On the 27th of May was our 1 year anniversary and I know a lot had happened In the past few days so my mind isn’t 100% registering but that day but I woke up to the coolest gift ever. As you know paper is the gift for one year anniversaries, so next to my bed where my husband sleeps was a copy of “Miss peregrines home for peculiar children”. It can only be him buying me something like that. I’ve been wanting that for a long time and didn’t really expect anything for this anniversary but he’s got stuff planned and I’m just going with the flow. 
Later that evening I got more anxious and my mom had to calm me down and assure me that everything was going to be fine. I was so scared that I was going to ruin everything. So we left past 5pm and were on the road. Guido had to direct me where to drive because I had no idea where we were going to. We landed up going through town and then to a more familiar place but I still wasn’t sure what could be here. It was quite romantic how he explained why he took me to these places. The first place was a beautiful overgrown restaurant. It looked Tuscany from the outside with the brown washed walls and the leaves growing all over it. A fountain lay in the middle of two tall trees that had lights wrapped around them. I felt like I was stepping into another time. The vibe was incredible; old and sophisticated. We had to sit on the balcony where the railings were made from old wooden legs or boxes and wrapped in tree bark. I wasn’t complaining. We had the balcony to ourselves. I wish I felt more myself because then I could have enjoyed it more. But it truly was beautiful. The sun was setting and we had the view of the sky and clouds in front of us. We ordered hot chocolates and a few minutes later we received blankets which we wrapped around our legs because it was so cold. It did the job. We spoke about the one year of being married and reminisced on sweet memories too. It was romantic and I enjoyed being out with him. We haven’t really been out in a while because financially it’s been tough, so this was incredible. 

Then it was time to leave for the second destination and I was getting anxious because I didn’t have a clue where we were going. He said it was down the road but there were only more restaurants down the road. Anyways, we found a parking spot and had to walk quite far in the cold. It was really cold, my coat wasn’t even helping. But he started to smile and then I saw it “Labia Theatre”. I was like oh my word I’ve always wanted to come here. It really got me excited. There was a walk through arch that was filled with chairs and people talking. There was a little cafe in the right hand corner where others were eating. Inside was crowded with such a variety of people. There were old people and young people and hipster people. I even spotted an old man crossed legged, drawing on a page. He kept looking up at some woman who were talking then down he went making lines then he looked up again at the woman and back down he would scribble. He saw me looking and I could see he was a little self conscious. So I didn’t look too much even though I was interested. 

We went to the ticket booth where an old lady with glasses sat and got these cool cardboard tickets that said “Labia screen 3” on it. I thought it was awesome. I just looked at everything and noticed how old everything was – it was like a typical old movie theatre. They even offer shots in your slushy – who does that Lol. I thought it was really funny. Their large popcorns are R20, that’s so cheap. And they have a variety of flavored toppings for the popcorn but I always go for the same: sour cream and chives. When it was time to enter they called us and a grumpy looking woman with a flat hat and short strawy hair grabbed our tickets and tore it in half. That woman landed up being a man. That was also funny. Walked into a longish hallway which smelled of old people and when we walked into the inner room there in front of us was a small screen and a small amount of flower covered chairs. 
We watched “the founder” which was a brilliant yet sad movie of how McDonalds became so famous. I felt so sad for the true owners of McDonald’s and yet I thought that the man that made it a success and took it from them was really sneaky and had great enthusiasm and entrepreneurial skills. He was tenacious no doubt but rude but very good but mean. My thoughts are everywhere on this movie but it was brilliant even if it was a little slow at times. 
Once the movie was over my husband found someones scarf that they had left on the chair beside him. He seemed to have had an idea of whose it was, I on the other hand had no idea and he safely returned it to the woman, who looked at it and called her husband – whose rightful owner it was. We walked back in the cold and this time the floor was damp and the air was wet. We were walking faster this time because we just wanted to get to the car. The car was full of water and cold inside. I immediately put the car on and tried to get it warm so that the heater could be on. And so was our day. We chatted about everything on the way back home. We had a good time together even though I wish I felt better. I’m proud of him for organizing a wonderful Anniversary for us and what might have sounded strange to some was well thought. He said that the restaurant we went to had to do with paper because of money and the vast amount of trees because paper comes from trees. I thought that was smart. And the theatre because the ticket was paper. I thought it was so cute and lovely and wonderful. We had a great one year anniversary celebration and I thank God for the incredible year we had together and to the many more we will have. 

N. A. Valentine 

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Then suddenly everything fell apart. 

I was in the road to recovery for the flu. I was getting much better and my days were getting busier as I could do more. Then that evening, it could have been the Tuesday or Wednesday, something strange happened. I couldn’t sleep. And not the normal tossing and turning but a panic sort of not being able to sleep. 

After the first night, I wasn’t too bad. I was a little sleepy during the day but then slowly theses panics would come at different times of the day. 

Now, I was confused. This hasn’t happened to me before. Unless there was a meeting I had to go to that I overanalyzed, then once done the attack would go away. 
The second night, the same thing happened. This time the attacks were a little more worse than before. I kept running to my moms bed telling her that I’m dying and that bad stuff were going to happen to me. She got me to calm down and I went back to bed but didn’t sleep again. I just asked my husband to hold me. He could see this was becoming a habit and he was starting to worry. 
Let’s just say that by the third night I didn’t sleep, I was a wreck. The panic attacks were all day and all night. I could not relax. And my appetite decreased to the point of nausea. Just thinking of sleep bought on a panic attack. Thinking of anything really also brought on a panic attack. I felt terrible, my life was over. I really thought this was going to be forever. 
Sunday evening we came back from church and people prayed for me and It was awesome. On the way back home though, such an intense panic came over me, so much so that I was shaking. I just knew I couldn’t go home so my mom drove me to the Blaauberg Netcare 24 hour emergency. They did some normal checks on me and I had to fill out forms. This was the first time I’d even been to a hospital for myself. My husband was there too. 

I messaged my younger sister to tell her were I was, and she said she was headed that way immediately. 

By the time my two younger sisters arrived, there was no way that was my little sister going to miss out the action Lol. 
While the entire family was in the waiting rooms I was talking to a nurse who did an ECG scan for my heart. To check that there is nothing abnormal about my heart. this was just procedure she said and by the looks of things everything was just fine. She then gave me some pills to suck that would help me to calm down. 
After a really long time, well what felt like a really long time a doctor came to assist me. She asked a lot of questions and I explained all the symptoms and troubles I was facing. She asked if I even suffered from anxiety, I said that I did and I was on medication a few years ago. 

This happened all of a sudden. I don’t have a history of panic attacks or feelings of intense fear and helplessness. I have had anxiety before but I weened myself off that medication ages ago. I thought that all anxiety was gone forever. 
I mean I thought I was loosing my mind, that something bad was happening to me. That I needed help immediately. And although I did, the nurses and doctors were calm and collected and it made me feel that they’ve seen things like this before. 
The doctor was taking long and I was panicking again. So I kept looking out for someone to help me. They told me the doctor was busy with an emergency at the back and I said that I totally understood. But sitting there all alone and panicking was not really helping me. My lovely nurse came in and asked if I was doing okay, I said that I wasn’t, that my attacks were coming back. She told me that she’s coming back with more of those pills for me to suck and was wondering if I wanted my family with me. I did not object, I really wanted to see them. But they were only allowed In two at a time. 

I was laying on the hospital bed, my mom having my feet rested on her. After I took two more of those pills, let’s just say I can’t remember much of what happened. Everything was a blur. And that was the night that I truly slept. And for that, you have no idea, just how happy and grateful I was. I was wheeled out in a wheel chair that I don’t remember, I was talking to a Doctor I don’t remember meeting or seeing, I don’t even remember how I got into bed. Just that hands were undressing me and after that I remember nothing. Although, I slept. I really slept. 

Every day i have been getting better. 
Today was a much better day. I can say that I’ve maybe had 10 or so panic attacks. Which is a little considering a while ago I had them all day and only maybe 1 or 2 hours a rest if I was lucky. Today was definitely better. I started back onto the anxiety medication I was previously on. This evening was a little harder. I was crying, I really felt emotional and truly sad. My mom was there for me, talking to me and supporting me. I had a bath and I am In bed now. I haven’t had any panic attacks in bed – which is incredible. I also have medication near my bed in case I do have an attack. 
I truly trust God that I am going to get out of this stronger and greater. I’m so grateful for everyone who has been there for me for these past few days. I can honestly say that I feel myself changed. I am extremely grateful to the point of tears and the fact that my family loves me so much and have been such a support. I tear up throughout the day for random things. But especially when I think of how much i love my family and what they have done for me. 
To anyone who has experienced or still experiencing what I have been going through, I want to tell you that you’re not alone. I thought I was alone, I felt alone. I thought my life was going to be over but it’s not. I know with medication, God and changing my thinking, I can overcome this. And so can you. If it wasn’t for that hospital trip I don’t know what I would have done. So for that I am so grateful and happy to all this people who helped me and where there for me. 

This is really personal for me but I know that being honest and open about tough situations is better than keeping it to oneself. In the end we do need support and help and all the love we can get. 

So thank you for letting me share this with you. And hopefully it can spread awareness on difficult topics like this. 

This experience has humbled me and touched me in such a way that I feel relatable – this weakness gives me a sense of humility, if that makes sense. Living in a sort of hell for the past few days has made me value life and family like I never thought possible. I need them and for the first time in my life I’m accepting help and saying something. Hiding what we truly feel only ends up hurting you mentally or physically. So this experience has really opened my heart and don’t eyes. I feel vulnerable and although it can be scary, if feels good. I’m not ashamed of what happened. Because I know there are others out there who are suffering alone. Please know that you’re not alone. And you are stronger than you think – anxiety is not the end. 

N. A. Valentine xx 

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