So, I’ve been having a lot of problems with anxiety lately. I’ve posted to my Fanbox about this but thought I’d post here.
It started on November 16th when, rather early in the day, I started having heart palpitations that wouldn’t go away. It happened to be a day I was off from work. The next day, I went to work like normal. A few hours before the end of my shift, the palpitations got worse, and I developed sharp, stabbing pains in various parts of my chest and abdomen. I was feeling very short of breath, dizzy, and lightheaded. My team lead gave me the option of being taken by ambulance or having Dave come get me and take me to the ER. I chose the latter.
At the ER they did a couple EKGs, a chest xray, and monitored my heart for a while. They found that my heart was beating extra, useless beats, followed by skipped beats. That was why I was having the palpitations. They had me wear a holter monitor for 24 hours, and in that time my heart had skipped over 2,000 beats.
I had more tests done, including a stress test, echocardiogram, and angiogram. All the tests came back normal. The cardiologist I was seeing had no answers as to what was causing the PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) or how to fix it. He didn’t want to see me for another 6 weeks.
I tried to return to work the Monday after the angiogram, but the palpitations were so bad I didn’t make it more than 45 minutes. I called the cardiologist as soon as I left work, and they said I needed to go to the ER while I was having symptoms so I could be monitored, and that they could squeeze me in with a physicians assistant the next day. I argued about the ER because I was having symptoms for EVERY test they had done on me.
Later that afternoon, the chest pains became unbearable. I texted Dave to try and get him to take me to the ER, but he didn’t want to leave work. He texted me that he’d have his (alcoholic) mother come get me, but I told him I would NOT ride in the car with her! He texted that she was on her way, so I bolted out of the house and just drove myself.
When I got to the ER, they were jam-packed. They had to do my first EKG in a little office because they had no beds for me yet. While they were doing that, I saw my MIL walk into the ER. She spotted me quickly and came to me. I could smell rum on her breath, and it was so strong it was nauseating.
She kept telling me that there was nothing wrong with me, they weren’t going to admit me, and that I needed to let her drive me home. I tried my best to ignore her because I was so irritated that she was there I knew the wrong words would come out of my mouth. Finally, that proved true. I asked her to leave, and she refused, saying she was there because she cared about me. Right. She cares so much that she can’t stop telling me that nothing’s wrong with me and I don’t need to be there? Then she asked why I wouldn’t let her drive me home. That did it. I told her the truth. That I could smell the alcohol on her breath. She got this look in her eyes that made me think she was about to hit me right there in the ER. Instead, she just lied by saying she’d had nothing to drink.
Eventually I got into a little room and they put a monitor on me. I allowed them to give me aspirin to see if that would help, and they also tried some ativan on me. Neither gave me any relief from the palpitations or pains. The doctor admitted that he believed it was likely anxiety. Well, after 15 years of having anxiety disorder, I find it hard not to believe him.
I’ve come to the conclusion that November 16th was the day my medication stopped working.
And that terrifies me.
I have no journal entries left here of that lost time, which I still deeply regret ever deleting. I can’t remember those years when I first got really sick. That was about 9 years ago. I’d already known about my anxiety disorder before the deep depression sunk in. The depression was so deep, in fact, that there are 5 years that I can hardly remember. I have to have people remind me of things that happened during that time. Even now I have a hard time remembering events of my life. I seem to remember the important things, like how to do my job and things like that. I just can’t remember things I do from day to day. Like, what did I have for lunch yesterday? The only way to remember is to journal it. I do remember that for about 5 years I barely made it out of bed except to play on my computer and smoke my days away.
I also remember the after-effects. Dave had been gone overseas for a great portion of that time. Once he returned for good, he discovered what a mess I really was. Sleeping most of the time, not doing any chores, not cooking. I was withdrawn from everything, even myself. All I did when I wasn’t asleep was play on my computer. Even all these years later, he still acts like that is still who I am. I imagine that as hard as it is for me to remember, it’s just as difficult for him to forget.
He still talks to me sometimes like I’m that person who does nothing but play on her computer. The person who makes no contribution to the household. I’m not that person anymore, though. As a matter of fact, tonight I cooked two dinners. I had no choice, really. There were two meats he had thawing out already before he came down with the flu, and they simply had to get cooked before much longer. So, I made mexican pork chops and chili. And, I washed all the dishes as I went until after I ate. Anyway, I also hold a steady job, which I’ve had for over a year. The job before that I held for over two years, and would still be there if I hadn’t developed arthritis in my SI joint after a moving injury that never got treated. I do still spend a lot of time on my computer, but I try to spend more time on other things. I joined the YMCA with Dave, which I intend to stick to. And I try to leave my laptop in my office upstairs so I don’t always have it in front of my face when I’m sitting on the couch with him.
I’m frightened with this returning anxiety that my life is going back into the downward spiral, back to the black hole of depression. I have missed a LOT of work since this all started. I have been going every day for about a week or so, but not necessarily staying for my whole shifts. Thank God I have FMLA so I am not being penalized for leaving because of my anxiety. Even with the extension on my break time I still find it hard to stay sometimes. The palpitations will get so bad it brings me to tears. I try deep breathing and other things at my station to try and calm myself down, but I just don’t know how. I’ve relied on medication for at least 9 years for this, I don’t know how to control it any other way. And now, after seeming to have developed an immunity to the medication, I have no choice but to figure this out. I have to figure out what I can do, while at my station or at least still at work, to calm myself down enough to make it through my shifts.
I did make it through two consecutive shifts, Saturday and Monday. Then yesterday I only made it two hours, and today I only made it a little over four hours. It makes me feel like a failure when I leave, but Dave tells me not to think like that because that won’t help my anxiety at all.
I am trying to implement more exercise in hopes it will also help my anxiety, hence joining the YMCA. I haven’t been since last Friday. Saturday night I went out dancing, and as much as I moved on the dance floor I think I burned enough calories to make up for nursing my mild hangover all day Sunday instead of going back to the Y. Mondays I don’t plan to go because I work 10-hour shifts those days. My days I want to go regularly are Saturdays or Sundays, and then Tuesdays and Thursdays. I didn’t go yesterday because I was just so exhausted from the anxiety.
I’m also trying to go back to church. Since we’ve moved here, I’ve had a hard time making myself go. I don’t want to feel like I’m making myself go. Part of my problem is that Saturday nights are my only chance to go out and drink if I want to, and then I don’t want to get up on Sunday morning. I think my priorities are out of line, there. I do think that getting more involved in church will help me tremendously.
Adding exercise and worship to my life may help a little, but so far it’s not doing much good when I actually need it. I try praying, I try deep breathing, I try semi-focused meditation. I don’t know what to do! Stress balls don’t do much for me. I just don’t know what I can do while I’m at my station at work to make myself calm down when I need to.
It’s not like I don’t like my job. I love my job! Nothing about my job stresses me out, oddly enough. I answer phone calls for Liberty. You know, those commercials with the cute old man talking about diabetes supplies. Yeah, that Liberty. Sometimes I get angry people, understandably, but I am very good at not letting them get to me. Actually, most of the time I have them calmed down a LOT by the end of the call. This one guy, I felt so bad, he was so mean to me at the beginning of the call, and I was so nice to him, genuinely nice, that by the end of the call he was tearfully apologizing. I wished I could have reached through the phone to give the guy a hug. I have no bad calls. Even the mean people don’t make bad calls. I love helping people, and this is a great way for me to do it. It’s not my dream job, of course. I’m still very interested in getting that good ole Ph.D. in Psychology. But, that’s on hold until I can afford to further my education.
I’m trying really hard not to proofread my post because I’m wanting to get this all out in the order it’s coming to my mind. I am a writer, though, so proofreading comes second-nature. I will resist the urge!
So, knowing it’s anxiety I’m up against, how do I fight it? How do I conquer something I’ve only ever conquered with medication?
I have tried therapy in the past, for a LONG time, and in the end it never did much for me. Probably because, as much as I love to talk, I go seeking advice. I never felt like I got advice from my therapists, that all I got out of it was talking to them. I need a two-sided therapy, not just where I’m talking and they’re listening.
So, this is where I stand… that’s it… I have no answers for myself…