Looking back over my last several posts, it seems I’ve neglected a huge part of my life. My daily struggle with anxiety has been mostly ignored. Sure, I joke about freaking out over wedding programs or being a HotMess, but I could, or perhaps should, delve a little deeper. In fact, I could be a lot more truthful about dealing with my anxiety issues lately.
Truth #1: I have not been taking medication for two months.
Why?: I do not have health insurance, and will not have health insurance until this Fall. I probably accidently failed to mention this because it’s embarrassing. I am a highly educated professional who has had a Master’s for 3 years, taught for 5, and have been mostly successful in life, and now I’m living like an 18 year old drop out trying to break into show business. Not having health insurance is scary and humiliating! I had strep throat not once, but twice this year, and the first time was so expensive that I just sucked it up the second time and went to work sick for 3 weeks.
(Working full time with no benefits can give a person a whole new perspective on healthcare. But that’s another blog altogether. Seriously, a completely different blog. I am to anxious to hold that kind of debate.)
Truth #2: I have been handling my anxiety the best ways I know how, without drugs that is.
I have been doing lots of yoga, exercising regularly, eating healthy, thinking positively, and all the little tricks psychologist and Oprah teach you to do when you suffer from panic attacks. None of these work as well as meds, but it helps, and it’s all I got going right now.
The other night I lay in bed, eyes wide open, staring at the TV, repeating the line “I am healthy and happy” in my head over and over. At 2 am, Fiance turned to me, and said “You are going to be really grumpy at work tomorrow.” Without blinking, or turning to face him, I just said, “I’m trying very hard to not have a panic attack.”
Because he loves me and knows me so perfectly, he just put his arm around me and reiterated that I am “healthy”.
(I see a future blog post full of my ideas, tips, and tricks to ward off a very unwanted panic attack.)
Truth#3: Trying my best doesn’t always work, but it sometimes it does!
Today was an ultimate test of my new found strength, and how far I’ve come over the last couple years.
I received a VERY scary text message this morning from a friend. This friend described a personal health situation to me that threw me into a nauseous frenzy. Besides being totally self-centered, and worried for my own health, I was very concerned for this friend. In fact, I was WAY more concerenced than they were.
When this kind of anxiety hits me, it hits hard. My whole day becomes a blur. It’s as if I am floating above myself, hearing myself give instructions to students, but unable to notice if they are even participating. Focus is completely gone, and irrational fear has moved in. Every break I get I call or text the two people I know can give me an update on this friend’s health concern, and after exactly 30 seconds of no one responding to me I am almost in tears and unable to breathe. Forty seconds later, the phone rings and I can’t answer fast enough.
Everything is okay. I can breathe again, but it’s hard to convince myself that tragedy isn’t around the corner. I have already worked up too many terrifying imaginary scenarios in my head. To survive the day without having a panic attack at work, I do what I always do, stay busy! I went out for lunch with two friends, ate at the park, forced a co-worker to workout with me during our entire break, and ran to Starbucks for a pick-me-up half price frappacino. I did all these things hoping to keep the negative thoughts as far from my mind as possible.
While eating lunch, a friend confided in me that her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is about to start treatment.
In the middle of our break time workout, 4 EMT’s ran in with bags of medical equipment looking for someone who called about an emergency. I almost raised my hand… (Turns out the call was for an apartment above our building.)
While running across the street for coffee, I ran straight into an ambulance pulling out a stretcher.
At this point, I was starting to look to the heavens, wanting to shout “SERIOUSLY?!”
Buying coffee immediately after this was probably not the wisest choice, but half-price frappacino’s always seem to make everything better.
After this, after ALL this, I am now so happy to say that for the most part everyone is fine, the health scare is not such a scare anymore, and I have now officially made it to 10pm without having a panic attack. Lots of anxiety, and an evening spent shopping at Sephora, taking Belle to PetCo, making homemade Guacomle, and basically doing anything but thinking, but NO panic attack!
So, maybe all of my extra yoga and brain exercises are working a bit. BUT, when September comes you better believe I will be putting that health insurance to use and getting a new prescription STAT. Feeling trapped under this veil of anxiety all day is not my preferred way of living.
Now you know a little more about my life with panic. As positive as I try to make these outbursts, they are no bueno, and I hope one day I completely rid of them.
That would be a nice blog.