Early Tuesday morning I got a phone call from my father. His sister, my aunt, was staying with them for a week or so, and apparently she had some kind of episode. He called the paramedics and they were getting her into an ambulance and taking her to the emergency room.
It kind of became my job to be the liaison between my parents and my siblings and extended family, keeping everyone up-to-date on what my aunt’s status was. I became the “information officer,” communicating with one sibling by instant message, another by phone, a third by text message…and the extended family by phone and email.
My aunt is elderly–83 years old–and has multiple health problems. This is no surprise for an 83 year old woman, but it means the “emergency” was more complicated. I kept up, took notes, passed information, asked questions, repeated answers…on and on. My aunt was in the ER for many hours, then moved to ICU, then moved to a less urgent room. Yesterday, day three, I could feel the buzzing of anxiety coursing through me. I was trying very hard to stay calm, to keep myself level so I could be involved with everything. I couldn’t go visit her in the hospital because I’ve got a cold coming on (and so does the hub), and I don’t want to pass it around. So I’m home, mostly alone (other than the dog) and staying in touch with everyone. And the buzz was getting worse.
I tried distraction (which rarely works well for me), I tried activity, I tried other techniques I’d learned with my therapist(s). Not much helped, so I broke down and emailed my therapist to see if she had any other suggestions. And I told her, it’s like when you’re nauseous and you know that if you just puke and get it over with, you’ll feel better. Fortunately for me, my therapist is well aware of my sense of humor and she gets me pretty well. She pretty much responded, saying I probably should just puke and get it over with.
Find a safe way to let it go, let the feelings come, accept them, feel them. Let the fear, the anxiety, the stress all in and do what I needed to do to get through them. I thanked her, like a good client, and told her I would try, but I was afraid. I was afraid to let go because what if I couldn’t stop it? What if I couldn’t come out of “it” on my own?
In the end, I did “puke and get it over with” in my own way. I can’t say I let it go 100%, but I let myself worry and I let myself cry a bit. I focused on dealing with the anxiety sitting in my stomach…and then I tried to move on to the next thing I needed to do. I am lucky that I was also able to talk to my husband about “puking” and that he understood.
I am thankful for the people around me who are there to help me and support me. I hope you have people like that in your lives, too.