I have wanted to share my experience with panic disorder and marriage for some time but every time I begin to write I am hit with serious writers block. I have felt our story could be a message of hope to a couple going through a similar experience. Every time I put my mind to writing about panic disorder and marriage my emotion just stops me cold and I can't bring myself to continue writing or even publish what I have written down, but today I have finally found the words.
Al was asked during church today to read the following story
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
Of Regrets and Resolutions by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
As the final words of this story were read I was reminded of when panic and fear had immobilized Slim Jim to such an extent that he was unable to leave our home under any circumstances (work, grocery shopping, visiting family, etc.) I felt so alone and so helpless. I had so much concern that our lives were forever fixed to those circumstances. I was so turned inward on that mammoth trial that I felt no joy.
We had a hard time feeling joy for our friends as they moved on to the next stepping stone, we felt jealousy as we had concerns that we were being left behind.
As I was under this rock of depression I talked to my friend, Chey, and she offered condolences, understanding and hope. She reminded me (in a gentle and kind way) how loving and kind Slim Jim was and how blessed we were to have each other. From that point on my viewpoint shifted, I realized that my blessing was that I was getting to experience this really tough thing with Slim Jim, that I loved so much. And our love for each other was our tool through this lifetime trial.
From that point on (mind you there were some natural man moments among the great ones) I tried to keep my eye towards our love and remember that it is our journey and that life is not a race. Many people asked me how I could stay so strong and have patience in our struggles, I told them that I loved Slim Jim and if I remembered that what else really mattered.
As Slim Jim has been able to take elements of his life back from panic and fear we have had great joy in the smallest things. Like when I cried all the way through Toy Story 3 because I was so happy that Slim Jim was finally able to travel out of town and sit with me in a movie. Or the much larger events like when he was able to make it to the hospital to be with me when Ryder was born.
Among the real heart breaking moments since the panic attacks we have had joy. I am so grateful for this journey and how it has really helped us realize how every little piece of a "normal life" is a blessing. For every moment of pain we have had thousands more moments of joy.