Worst Fears: Part I

Before I left for Togo these were my top three fears:

            Top Fear # 1: Becoming mentally ill. 

            Top Fear # 2: Parasitic Worms

            Top Fear # 3: ___________ & having no physical community. 

I know it may not look like your “typical” fear list, but it’s true.  I am more fearful of worms/ parasites then I am of being murdered, getting shot, etc.  Not normal, I know.  And I never said it was a rational fear list.  (Also, just to be clear this fear list is my personal fear list and does not include what I fear for other people…oh and yes I admitted that a lack of physical community is a huge fear of mine.  I am not a technology girl.)

Soon after arriving in Togo my worst fear became a reality.  As a result of the anti-malarial medication I was taking I rapidly developed a variety of mental illness symptoms.  It took a noticeable turn for the worse one night as I lay beneath the mosquito net trying rather desperately to fall asleep. Just as I started to calm down I was suddenly aware of something moving about my room: demon pigs with fangs were flying around my room.  For several minutes I just lay in shock.  I knew that something was not right, but at the same time it seemed so real.

Another night I awoke suddenly convinced that I had been buried alive.  When I am faced with danger or fear I tend to get extremely quiet, which I know is not always good.  So I just laid there thinking “I am in a box surrounded by dirt.  There is no way out.  What should I do?  I wonder how much oxygen I have left?  Will I notice when it runs out or will I just go to sleep?...”  I have no idea how many minutes or hours or seconds this lasted, but eventually my hand brushed up against the “dirt.”  It was the mosquito net. 

During the day there would be many many…. many times where I would be on the roof of the building starring down at the dirt below (and I later found out I was not the first)… Eventually the squeals of children running through the streets would jolt me back to reality. 

About this time I realized I could not put it off any longer someone had to know.  It was already way out of control.  That night in not a lot of words I shared a few things with a staff member and soon an appointment at the local Togolese hospital was scheduled.

That night was tiring.  I was awake the entire night because I kept thinking my left hand had been cut off.  I would pull my left arm towards my face to feel if all my fingers were still there and once they were all accounted for put it back down.  A few seconds later I would be convinced that it had been chopped off again and the process would start all over again.  It lasted all night.  It reminded me of childhood OCD, but combined with paranoia and hallucinations.

At the hospital in Togo the staff member and I were escorted back to his office.  Once there they started talking a mile a minute in French while I sat there convinced the doctor wanted to rip out my appendix.  My thought process being that the Chinese doctors took my friend's so this Togolese doctor must want mine. Needless to say I walked out of there with my appendix and a prescription to “calm” me down.

Well as it turns out my prescription was a drug that is not supposed to be taken with Mefloquine.  Not knowing this I took one as directed only to find the paranoia and fear rise rapidly.  At this time a staff member was sleeping in my room to make sure everything was alright.  My mind was out of control. Seriously out of control. I was very scared. It was so unreal. There was this small part of my brain that was okay. This tiny tiny part knew it was not okay...it was an anchor of truth that Jesus had laid in my mind. But this small part was locked away I could not do anything. I felt beyond hopeless. All I did was just lay there like a statue.  That small part of my brain knew that I had not totally flown off my rocker...but the rest of mind was out of control.  I knew that the girl next to me was trying to help me. The truth part of my brain knew that, but it was locked and hidden away. The rest of my brain was going “she has a knife she’s going to kill you.”  And bless Julia who stayed in my room that whole night telling me over and over again that she was not going to kill me and that she did not have a knife. 

Needless to say: hello America.  And a week later I found myself on a plane heading back unsure of what the future held.  To be cont.

Postscript:
And I know that this post and the last one were pretty dark and down, but I promise it gets better.  As Elizabeth Elliott once said "…God's story never ends with 'ashes."'  So if you want to see how God came back into the picture stick around a few posts longer.

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