Surviving Anxiety

So I kind of just have to write today…

No pictures.

No trying to be funny.

I just want to talk to you,

and I would be honored if you would like to listen.

In 2009, I was working the midnight shift at work.  It was early on in my shift, and as I sat there I remembering feeling my breath catch.

I started to feel weird.

My feet started going numb.

My hands started to sweat.

My heart felt like it was about to beat right out of my chest.

I sat there frozen.

I put my head on the desk,

and started breathing heavily.

I felt like I was going to pass out,

and the fear hit me that if I passed out,

I was going to die.

I thought about Justine.

I thought about dying and never seeing her face again.

I had one of my best work friends with me and he sat there with me,

and tried to get me to just breath.

Breathe.

I remember him telling me as they called the ambulance.

The ambulance got there just a few short minutes later, and by that time I started feeling just a little better.

My mouth was tingling.

I got to the hospital and started to feel a little silly.

What had happened to me?

It was at the hospital I learned that what had happened to me was called a panic attack.  The panic attack lead to me hyperventilating.

I had never been through something so scary in my life, and I never wanted to go through that again.

People asked me what was wrong that night when I had my first panic attack.

The answer,

Nothing.

I wasn’t stressed.

It wasn’t busy.

I was just sitting there when…

BAM!

It came from out of no where.

Thankfully, I had the BEST doctor in the world.

I made an appointment with him soon after.

That one panic attack, was the beginning of feeling like I would never feel normal again.

I would wake up with my heart beating so hard, I would feel like I had just ran a marathon.

I would feel my throat start to get tight, and I would think that I wasn’t going to be able to breath.  I would wonder if I was having an allergic reaction to something.

Other times I would feel the beginning of a panic attack.  I would get light headed, and feel like I was going to pass out at any minute.  I would wonder should I call the ambulance?

Then I would worry…

How would I know if something was really wrong and not just my anxiety talking?

My doctor was always a phone call away.

I would call him in a panic, and he would simply tell me, “Kristi, you are fine.”  It’s the anxiety talking.

We started trying to figure out what medication I could take to ease both the mental and physical symptoms of this disorder.

And boy, was that a task.

We went through medication after medication.

I would feel too lethargic to live my life.

I was a single mom.

I worked shift work.

I couldn’t be sleeping my life away.  That wasn’t an option.

Sometimes they would make me feel worse, not better.

Other medications I would search on the internet and didn’t like what I found out about in forums.

Googling medication, symptoms, and trying to diagnosis yourself is the worst thing that you can do, and especially with anxiety.

I would think that I had about 8 other medical things wrong with me, and then I would think if I took a medication that it was going to send me into a lethargic zombie that wouldn’t be able to function.

I would go back to my doctor in tears.

“We’ll try something else.”, he would tell me.  He never gave up on me.

I wasn’t taking care of myself at this time either.

I wasn’t exercising.

I wasn’t eating right.

I was drinking.

I was drinking too much.

I was stuck in this hopelessness that I would never feel normal again.  That I would battle this constant heart pounding, throat closing, hands sweating disorder for the rest of my life.

I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it,

because anxiety is one of those things that people do not understand,

and it is not there fault.

If someone has not experienced the fear that one feels during panic attacks, they can not understand how terrifying it can be.

People would tell me, “You need to get it together.”

Um, well, yes I would love to, but would you like to show me how?

For the next four years, I was in a constant battle.  It was me vs. anxiety , and for four years, anxiety won.

I went to my doctor about 1-3x a month.

I would go when my medication wasn’t working out.

I would go because I just didn’t feel right.

I would go because my heart was pounding, and I just knew something was wrong besides the anxiety.

My doctor, I owe so much to him, would say “Let’s try something else.”

We went through a few medications,

and then we would try two different medications at a very low dose.

He would send me to get an EKG, just to make sure that everything was okay.

Which of course, it was.

Slowly, I started to get my life back.

I wasn’t as consumed with this disorder, as I once was.

I started going to therapy.

I was managing, not surviving.

It wasn’t until this year that I decided it was time to really get my self together.

I quit smoking.  Cold turkey.  I woke up one day and said enough is enough, and never smoked again.

I had stopped going to therapy, but it just wasn’t working for me.  I wanted someone to tell me, “You do these things because of…” or “This is what you need to do to try and fix it.”  I didn’t need someone to listen to me and tell me things that I already knew.

I started becoming aware of the decisions I was making and how they seem to affect me.

I started a different medication, which was awesome.

I started realizing that maybe I should regulate some of the things I put in my body.

I started reading,

and researching,

and started experimenting.

Caffeine= a trigger of anxiety.

So I cut out the caffeine.  I wasn’t drinking large amounts of coffee, but I figured I would stop drinking it to see how I would feel.  I did feel better.  A little healthier knowing I wasn’t dependent on coffee anymore.

I stopped eating meat.  It wasn’t something that I really thought about.  I had ventured a little away from my meat eating because, well it’s expensive and I can make great food, without meat.

Will I ever eat meat again?

If I want to.

It’s not something I have sworn off,

but it was something I decided to experiment with.

I started thinking about yoga, and found a studio in the area which offered free yoga on Sundays.

I fell in love with yoga.

Knowing that it wasn’t feasible I started looking at how I could get yoga into my life,

everyday.

I had seen Groupon was offering a membership to yogadownloads.com.  I was hesitant at first, because I wanted something that made me feel like I was in a studio, and I wasn’t sure if this was going to be it, but it was, and I am now forever grateful for finding this wonderful site.

I do yoga everyday.

I also started incorporating the treadmill into my daily routine, and am loving doing whatever I feel like doing.  If I want to just walk, I walk.  If I want to run a little, I run.  If I want some relaxing yoga, that is what I choose.

I exercise because if makes me feel better,

not because I am obsessed with how many calories I’m burning.

I also started writing in my journal daily.

I pray.

I searched for God,

and I try to learn from him everyday now.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t learned from him before, but this time it was different.

I needed him,

and I knew it, and so everyday I try to become just a little closer to him.

I realized how he has truly been there for me, and that no matter what mistakes I made and will make, those mistakes will never be held against me.

I’m also on day 4 of not drinking, not that I drank everyday,

but I wanted to see how my body will react if I go 30 days without drinking.

Will I feel better?

Will I feel less anxiety?

Yesterday I was walking around Walmart and my feet started feeling weird.  I noticed that my feet were starting to sweat. I know, gross.

I knew what was happening.  I started to panic, just a little.

I looked at the employees and thought, should I tell someone what’s going on incase I pass out?

I checked out and was driving home when my breath got caught in my throat for just a moment.

I panicked.

I started reaching for my medication which I have with me at all times.

Just in case.

As I was reaching for it,

I stopped.

I told myself, “You don’t need medication.  You know what is going on.  You know that there is nothing wrong.  You know that you are fine.”

I took a couple deep breaths, which I have learned to do through yoga, and I  remained calm, and you know what?

It went away.

I was so proud.

I felt like a success.

I know that there is so much more for me to learn.

I know that there may be really bad days, and I try and prepare myself for those days.

The truth is,

I am loving this journey.

I am loving learning about myself, my life, this disorder, and how to have a happy life.

Sometimes I stop and think,

Wow.  I feel normal.

And you know what?

feeling normal is a great feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Surviving Anxiety

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was glued to the computer screen. :)
    I jumped over after hearing your “breathtaking moment’ over at my blog and now hearing the full story I say HECK YEAH!! That is a huge victory!! Way to go. Bless you for all of your efforts to get through this and over it, and God will indeed bless you as you rely on Him!!
    Much aloha
    Monica, at thegrommom :)

    • Awww.. thanks. It’s something that I haven’t really talked about too often, because 1) people don’t get it or 2) once I tell them they think that any concern I have is just my anxiety talking. I just kind of want people to know what it’s like and there are things you can do to better yourself.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow – what an interesting post!
    What an incredible journey! So glad to know how eating healthy and working out have had such a profound effect on your life!
    I, too, am a single mom – and I know getting sick is not an option.
    So glad to have stumbled on your blog today!
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

    • Thanks for stopping by! I think one of the hardest things about being a single mom is when you get sick. It’s getting easier now that my daughter is getting a little older, but it’s still rough when all you want to do is lay down and you can’t.

  3. Pingback: Challenge yourself | Journeyinmythirties

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