When The Blackness Comes

Yes, this actually happened. And it terrified me enough to shock me into action.
img_6363The Tullamarine Freeway in Melbourne, Australia is a busy place at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning, with people just like me beeping and bustling their way through traffic, navigating a lightning fast pathway through cars, trucks and motor bikes, making lane changes that concern only them. Little regard is held for our driving peers, who function merely as inconvenient obstacles to avoid and contend with. My life had been a pressure cooker of late. I had held on tight through a sequence of events that all of the psychology books would say should have burst my stress limits. 18 months ago I moved interstate to begin my new city life with my husband, but only a few weeks after that I lost a close friend to suicide. Later that year I lost my aunty to cancer, and then my best doggie friend to a tiger snake in our back year. Only a few months after that I found my husband dead in our kitchen.
This final, hellish part of the nightmare initiated a domino effect that uprooted every last remnant of my life’s security. The couple of staff who worked in the business I used to share with my husband left after a few months. My English warehouse assistant had an expired work Visa, and my warehouse manager buckled under the pressure of losing his best mate. Closing the doors on this family operation would have forced me into bankruptcy, so to keep the operation running I had to relocate my entire warehouse to a third-party order fulfilment company. After six months of back breaking work and endless obstacles, I made the decision to sell my entire business, which took a full gruelling year of preparation, debt repayment and restructuring.  On top of all that, I had to down-size my personal life to make it something that I could manage, which meant moving house to a home that was easier to maintain than the 6 acre property we had shared,  Overwhelming is not the word for it … But I was fine. Really. I’m fine.
That was what I told myself, even though I barely slept or ate throughout this period, and even though I would wake in panic every morning. I was running on the adrenalin that my body gifted me to survive. I was fine.
And then I wasn’t.
The Tullamarine Freeway is not the place to have a blackout, but I have never been the compliant sort. It was only a few seconds. Of complete shut down. No sights. No sounds. No thoughts. Nothing but silent darkness. Like the sleep that eluded me, and the peace that had vanished, the blackness came.
The first time it happened I shook my head and quickly orientated myself to my location, checking the time, and examining the buildings, and reading street signs to get my head back in the game of driving alongside my peers at 100km/hr. And I thought I would be fine. I committed myself to an early night.
The second time it happened I was worried, but by the third time, I knew I was in trouble. My brain was stealing the rest it needed from me. She refused to comply. She demanded that I pay attention. She had written me a formal warning for the death sentence that was likely to be executed on that freeway if I didn’t yield.
If nothing else, my son and my daughter needed me to take this seriously. I made my first psychologist appointment that very day, and spent my first session crying like a baby. I am convinced that admitting I needed help saved my life. And I am convinced I am not alone in that.
Get the help you need! Your vulnerability is not your weakness, but your greatest strength. It is the seed of your humanity and the core of the the passion that will drive you to serve others with understanding, empathy and compassion. Asking for it might be the bravest thing you do in your life.