It’s been a about a week. Not to stray too far off of my normal posts but I just felt like writing about it and sharing a few of my thoughts on my events of last week…
…Scratch that! It’s been more like two months now. And since that first time in early January, today was actually the first time I felt anxiety again. I am trying to learn to deal with it. Which I’m 100% sure I don’t want to get totally comfortable with. But I should start with a reflection on my first real bout with this thing called anxiety. And to be honest I am writing this in hopes that putting some of my thoughts into words that I can come back and read later will be therapeutic in a sense. So fingers crossed! And this isn’t like one of my typical posts either where I smear it all over all my social media. If anyone happens across this and reads it thats fine and I hope even in the smallest sense you take something positive away from it.
To make a long story short it was early January and as I was driving and arguing with my mom I had to pull over. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. And it scared the shit out of me. Initially we were arguing over my teaching my youngest son how to replace a headlight bulb on our car. It was snowing out but it wasn’t too cold. Being as my mom is from Guatemala and not used to the cold she thought it was freezing and yelled at me about having forced my son to stand in the freezing weather and it being a horrible time to teach such a thing. An argument that is to be expected from a grandmother, so naturally I ignored it (or thought I was ignoring it.) We finished up the light and went on our way towards I-5 south. In all fairness that wasn’t the only thing on my mind. I’m that friend/relative that people like to tell their problems too and come to for advice. Which is good with me. I want nothing more than to help the people I love and care about, but over the past few months I had a lot unloaded on me. Aside from my usual load of single parenting bliss.
So as we’re making our way down the freeway (still getting yelled at for the bulb change) I suddenly start feeling pain in my chest and I’m finding myself short of breath. The road conditions were horrible and icy and it was getting dark. I had to concentrate to keep from sliding off the road, but suddenly I wasn’t able to concentrate all that well. Attempting to focus was proving to be a tad bit of an ordeal. That paired along with the chest pain and shortness of breath was putting me into a bit of a panic. I even started to feel claustrophobic for the first time in my life. I had no idea what was going on. So as not to scare the crap out of my mom I quietly got off the freeway at the Broadway exit near the Moda Center. I felt a little bit of comfort knowing that I was near the hospital as I could see it from the freeway just as I was getting ready to exit. Then as I was exiting I saw a an ambulance at the red light by me, that gave me a little more relief. My mom is not the best person to have around in an emergency situation, hence my being comforted by the hospital and EMT’s nearby. I even went as far as pulling into the 7-11 parking lot and walking in for a water bottle. Up until then I had never felt faint, nor had any idea what that felt like. But I was getting tunnel vision and the edges of my vision seemed to be closing in, I was afraid that would happen and that all this was a heart attack. Fearing that if I passed out in the car with my mom she would try to call everyone in her phone to ask what to do before dialing 911 I went to 7-11. Figuring that if I collapsed or something in the store they would quickly dial emergency services. I drank some water, went back outside and took a few deep breaths. They seemed to help. I continued for a bit more…attempted to clear my head and then got back into the car with my mom.
A couple times after that first incident I had trouble focusing again and got the claustrophobic, short of breath feeling. This all happened over the weekend. I made a doctors appointment that Monday. I was scheduled for Wednesday but after having another feeling like that again mid-day Monday I took myself to Urgent Care. Going off of my symptoms I was sent almost immediately to the ER. It scared me but I took some comfort in thinking that if I was going to have a heart attack I probably wanted it to happen at the ER over any where else. About 3 blood tests, 4 ekg’s a chest x-ray and an hour of vitals monitoring later the doctor came in and told me I was physically fine. Her diagnosis was anxiety and she asked if I suffered from it. I said no and mentioned never having had to experience it. She said ok and told me she was going to send in the nurse to finish talking with me and get me home. The nurse came in and asked me the same thing, if I’d had anxiety before. I said no and told her it was scary as fuck and I’d prefer not to experience it ever again. She told me that it could very well cause me a heart attack and to think of this as a check engine light for my body. I need to change some things around to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And I definitely did. I’ve changed my diet and I’m getting into shape. It’s been a few years now that I’d been wanting to do something about it and what better time than after thinking I might die? I’ve started meditating which really seems to be helping, as well as putting more effort into reading positive books and listening to podcasts that I feel are beneficial. (So far my favorite podcast has been the Tim Ferriss Show.) My biggest obstacle is getting enough sleep as for years now I’ve been used to sleeping about 6 hours a night, sometimes just 5 and feeling like I was fully functional. Now I know better though.
I have since begun to feel better, lost some weight, noticed my food cravings are different and I can feel my outlook on everything changing. I have to give credit to my family and close friends for all the help. Seems like my kids already had a good idea of what it was to begin with. So I’ve been working on some of my unhealthy hang ups. Overall trying to get healthier for myself and my two boys. Not that I fear death but I’m not ready to check out just yet. I still got some things to do before my semi permanent vacation. And to be honest since January today was my first day experiencing anxiety again. Not the best feeling but a good reminder to keep working on myself. For sure this has given me a new found respect for people that suffer from anxiety. I don’t think that I fully grasped it until now… and it’s no joke. Anyone that deals with this on a regular basis, I just want you to know that you are stronger than you think. Anxiety is no joke and I admire your strength. Keep up the fight and working on ways to push through this terrifying state of mind.
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”