Opening up about anxiety.
The word 'anxiety' was not one that was present in my life until very recently. I have always been able to juggle tasks and wear multiple hats with ease never feeling like it was too much trouble. I try to help everyone that I can who needs me, see every friend and family member who makes plans to meet up and I rarely ever utter the word 'no'. Until 10 days ago I never had heart palpations, a panic attack or felt like screaming at someone who looked at me the wrong way. I think the reason that I am struggling to come to terms with this is because it's so out of character for me. I am also feeling incredibly guilty and like I don't have a valid enough reason to feel this way - Another side effect of anxiety. In this post I would like to open up about my recent experiences in case they can lend a helping hand to someone who needs to know that they're not in this alone.
Why is this happening to me?
I won't sugar coat the fact that this has been a pretty awful year for the whole planet but I was convinced that I had managed to navigate through the madness virtually unscathed. I started my own business during lockdown that has now just celebrated it's 3 month anniversary and is turning over nicely. My relationship is stronger than ever due to 8 weeks apart in lockdown post travelling in Australia (read this post for more detail) a turbulent period and now we're better than ever and on the road to saving for our first property, yay! My home life is stable, safe & happy with plenty of family time and fun. So when I started to experience these strange flutterings in my chest a few weeks ago I just ignored them and carried on with my life, working full time in a shop in my hometown, and running my side hustle. I put it down to being a little busier and more tired than usual and got an early night.
The first symptoms
Over the days that followed these first signs of palpitations I went about my days as I always did not paying much attention just thinking I was a little dehydrated or needed some food. However the breathlessness & dizziness was starting to set in whilst at my retail job and although I kept it quiet at home it was starting to worry me. Three days in I had to stop eating my dinner because they had gotten so uncomfortable and the glass of wine I had poured myself earlier was now back in the bottle - a gesture which was noticed by my brother and bought to everyone at the table's attention. I owned up to how I'd been feeling lately and we talked it over over dinner.
Saturday passed without much disruption apart from the evening but by Sunday it was worse than ever. After 5 days on these feelings I was feeling exhausted and my family was worried. I called 111 when I returned home from work and they shocked me by asking me to get up to A&E as soon as possible. After 6 hours and lots of waiting and tests later they sent me home. I had had an ECG, blood test, heart rate test & my blood pressure taken and was told to call my GP the next day. He said that I'd had a series of panic attacks and that he'd also like to test for any thyroid issues so advised me to get to our local hospital the same day.
One week on there is no news on what has caused this, the blood work came back clean, the ECG showing no worrying signs but still my heart feels like it's beating out of my chest and several times a day I get an uncomfortable lurching feeling in my chest that takes my breath away. It's a difficult thing to try to explain to someone because you can't see it, and there are some people that are under the illusion that I am "better" now because medically I'm clean. These attacks seem to be brought on by a combination of overthinking, worrying, being busy & wanting to be there for and please everyone. So, as much as medically I may be alright, mentally I'm really struggling which is hard to say but sometimes I feel like admitting that you're not okay is half the battle. We all have our own limits when it comes to feeling stress, tiredness, anxiety, hunger etc... and once you've hit your own wall, that's when it starts to show.
One day at a time
I feel as though I am at the start of a long journey to get back to myself again but all you can do is take it one day at a time and break things down into manageable chunks, ensuring that you give yourself some downtime to unwind. I've recently had my birthday and I can't thank my other half for how amazingly thoughtful all of his gifts were, everything he got me was related to my wellbeing and creating more time for myself to relax and unwind. I'll link it all below:
With these amazing products I have created a new morning routine that involves a 20 minute mediation, whilst using my neck massager, burning some essential oils in the oil diffuser with the himilayan salt lamp on. All of these practices have so many health benefits that are linked to relieving stress and anxiety and they also get your day off to the best start. Going forward I am also planning to start keeping a journal of how I am feeling so that I can go back and check in with myself as well as introducing some more yoga and meditation into my life.
If anyone is reading this and has been going through anything similar I would love to hear from you and am open to any tips that you may have that have helped you.
Stay safe & well, big love,