Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bare Naked Anxiety - The Struggle is Real

Until recently I never realized how physically incapacitating anxiety can be. I equated anxiety to fear of something or someone or an event and I could never understand how a sane, logical person could just have anxiety about nothing in particular or how it could affect every aspect of their life. My take on it was, 'get over it' or 'suck it up Buttercup' or when I wasn't feeling crass I figured prayer should alleviate all of the 'fearful feelings'. After all, that is what had always worked for me. Prayer squelched my fears. ALWAYS.

So, after my fainting spell in the car that I experienced a couple months ago, I began to feel off. Medically, there is nothing wrong with me. I have good blood pressure. My cholesterol level is good. ECG and EKGs are all on the up and up, so my heart is healthy. My insulin levels were tested and I am not diabetic. My oxygen levels were and are normal. I had a CT Scan of my brain and there are no lesions, tumors, clots or otherwise invasive physical reasons for the sudden dizziness I have been feeling. No physical reason for the feeling of rising upward from my body. No physical reason for narrowed vision or shortness of breath or chest pains or stomach upset or immediate and severe onset of nausea. There have been found no physical reasons for any of this.

I admit, at one point I thought I must be going nuts. I must be depressed or need a therapist (I may actually need a therapist but that is neither here nor there) and then I thought I might be having some kind of seizures but everything I googled pointed to heart attack. GREAT! Just what I need! {This is a lesson from me to you to ask your doctor about your symptoms before you go and scare the shiitake mushrooms out of yourself with Dr. Google's diagnosis) And then one night I thought I actually was having a heart attack. My side ached. My heart was racing. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. I felt dizzy and numb and panicked. The only way I was able to calm down was getting up and walking/stumbling to my mom's room out of my apartment and into the main house. She then sat with me until I felt better. And eventually, I DID feel better. This happened twice more before it dawned on me.

I am having anxiety attacks. Severe physically debilitating anxiety attacks. ABOUT.NOTHING.IN.PARTICULAR. Nothing seems to trigger them except now my worry that one is going to come on. And I have to wait it out. Meanwhile my symptoms are purely physical. My only fear is that this time it isn't JUST,AN.ANXIETY.ATTACK. And eventually, it always goes away. But in the throes of the attack I feel like I am dying. Like I am literally dying or at least what I imagine dying must feel like.

Since I have been minding my diet, drinking water and keeping my mind occupied I am not so startled or alarmed when an attack comes on but they still happen. Sometimes I think it is because of fleeting fears of something happening to my girls. Sometimes I think it is because I witness something earlier in the day (like an almost car accident or something as simple as a squirrel running in front of me while I'm driving and almost hitting it) Little things seem to trigger the beginning of these attacks and so I am working on controlling them. Thankfully I have found some things that DO help. If I am driving, deep breathing, air conditioning (even though it is 30 degrees outside) and talking (but not singing) help. Probably to distract me and open up my airways. The attack is generally minimal and now that I know what it is, they don't scare me as deeply as the first time it happened.

That being said, I feel like it is necessary for people who are like I was to understand that deep rooted unprovoked anxiety is real and it is not completely psychological. It may stem from the brain but it has physical symptoms and they can be painful and scary and debilitating. So, if you know someone who has anxiety or fears or even depression, don't discount them. They can't just turn it off or get over it. Be there for them even if there is nothing you can actually actively do. A hand on the shoulder, a soothing voice. Sometimes that is all a person needs.

Be a part of the good in the world.

Stepping off soap box . . .


  1. I am glad that you are ok and figured out that it is anxiety and not anything physically wrong with you. I know how you feel, this sounds alot like me here lately. I have always been able to handle stress well and I have a history of Heart Disease on both sides of my family so I always think it is that. I have found the only thing that can help is getting some time alone. Rather we realize it or not we as mothers are always on a protective mode for our children. I know your road hasn't been easy and I am hoping that it does get easier for you as time goes on. You have a beautiful family and I love that you live like right next to your mom. Family is so important.

  2. Thank you for this reminder. I try to be understanding and compassionate, but sometimes I slip and think the same way you use to. I am going to try harder to remember this. Thank you.


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