I wanted to take some time to write this and share a brief update with my readers as I know I’ve been pretty quiet both on the blog and on my social platforms over the past few weeks.
A week ago, I suffered my first major panic attack that prompted a visit to the emergency department as I had no idea what was going on with me. I even thought I was having a heart attack. Before then, I have had some difficulty sleeping the past couple of day and not able to catch a proper breath. Little did I know that this was the beginning of an anxiety disorder.
The emergency department checked my blood, heart to rule out anything cardiac-related and all results came back good (with no concerns). I was given a nebulizer treatment and then on my way back home. The emergency doctor completely disregarded discussing the option of anxiety treatments with me and rather thought perhaps it was a one-off panic attack or possible allergies.
The following days, I was okay. I started meditating a bit more, practiced breathing exercises and tried to get in a better sleep routine. But suddenly one day I woke up, getting ready to get the kids all set for school and I felt that heavy, heart-racing, uncontrollable feeling again where I couldn’t relax or properly function normally. I finally booked an appointment with my doctor and got in to see her the same day. My kids were unable to get to school that day because I was afraid to drive and called my sister to come over (which she was thankfully able to do working 45 minutes away from me). That is the unfortunate thing living further away from family and having no proper support nearby; when emergencies like these happen, it can be extremely rough.
My doctor did diagnose with current anxiety disorder and prescribed some medications to help alleviate and control them (one for an as-needed relief and the other for long-term help). Let me tell you, the days following this was HELL. The long-term meds I was on I was told would make me feel worse before I feel better and takes about 4+ weeks to really start feeling the true effects. I couldn’t take the side effects. Every day I was sick to my stomach, some nights reeling in pain and tears. I had to have my parents take time off work to stay over because I needed all the help I could get, especially with my children. I had the wonderful support of my child’s classmate’s mother to help with picking and dropping off the kids for two days as I recover.
I absolutely hated this dark, gruesome health-hole I was in. I felt completely vulnerable and as if I would never get better or feel normal again. It hurt me more to have to see my children see my suffering through this, not being able to be completely present and available to them for even the little things like reading a book with my son or watching a new video my daughter made and was excited to show me. Rather, I was a nauseated, frail zombie passing through the home.
Here’s the thing about anxiety. This ugly thing just creeps up on you when you least expect it. I was fine. I was totally stress-free and living life normally (or so I thought) and really felt like I was the last person that would experience a panic attack or an anxiety disorder. There was nothing stressful going on in my life, I was happy. I was told that anxiety can find many ways to grasp on. It could be from stressors that have bothered you in the past and suddenly decided to wreak havoc. Or can also be bio-chemical, meaning it has to do with your hormones and possibly something could be off internally in your body.
I believe with the shorter winter days and less sunshine, this can also be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing and you should also make sure you’re not suffering from this. Here’s a great article with more details on SAD and how you can help feel better: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/seasonal-affective-disorder.
Our bodies are so complex and fragile. You truly realize how important it is to take care of it, both physically and mentally when you go through some of the worst health scares.
For these reasons, I have decided to take some time off social media, away from work, and to focus more on making myself better, for me and for my family. I would like to try to feel as normal as I can so I will try to keep up and stay connected as best I can, but for now, you’ll find me getting a much-required health break. Every day is getting slightly better and I just cannot wait to feel like myself again.
I hope that if you ever feel your body telling you something, that you please really listen to it and never feel ashamed or worried to admit when something is wrong.