Facing My Fears

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I did it. I went to the doctor today. Whew….boy, do I feel better! Husband went with me for support, and because he needed a check-up as well. As much as I appreciated his presence, it was not very helpful. I was so sick all morning leading up to the appointment. I lay on the couch all morning, could barely manage to eat a banana, and almost threw up on the bus ride there.

While waiting in the doctor’s office I thought I might break down. Why on Earth do they play terrifying commercials in the waiting room of every doctor’s office??? 5 signs you are dying. A terrible story of a girl with a hidden disease. And, Everything you should be afraid of! I tried to tune out the disturbing messages on the TV. I tried to focus on the stack of papers I had to fill out, hands shaking, but it was a challenge.

By the time they called me back I was sweating and my heart was pounding in my ears. The doctor sat me down in her office first to get to know me a little better. I am oh-so very thankful she did this. I got to fully explain my fears, my anxiety and the whole reason for making the appointment in the first place. Of course, the second I opened my mouth I began crying. I hated to cry in front of her, but there was no stopping the tears. My body was just so relieved to let it out.

I told her EVERYTHING. Once I finished “letting it all out” she told me (in a very professional and understanding way) that I needed to be on anti-anxiety medication, to see a therapist and come back for regular check-ups. I agreed because I know I need help and more than anything I want to get back to being myself.

The physical was the most meticulous physical I have ever experienced. She took my blood, did an EKG, and a hundred other tiny tests. Surprisingly I learned that I have a heart murmur. I’ll be returning next week for an echocardiogram, but I am okay with this. She was confident that it is no big deal. Not surprisingly, my blood pressure was a little high…

It was 132/80. Not TOO bad, but not great. Husband’s was actually the same as mine, which is surprising. I will be working hard on keeping my anxiety under control, and we will both be eating less salt and exercising more (hopefully together).

The good news is that I feel much better. I found an understanding doctor, and I am finally on the right path. My journey is just getting started, and I’m sure it will get bumpy, but luckily I have all of you to support me and listen to my anxiety-filled stories. (Thank you so much for the sweet calls, thoughts and text messages today!) At first, I felt silly for having my friends worry about my simple physical, but it definitely made me feel stronger knowing I was not alone.

The REALLY good news is that the doctor said I do not need to quit drinking coffee; I just need to drink less. I can live with that. The second I got out; I went to Starbucks because I had not had any coffee yet and was suffering from a caffeine headache. The barista made me a large when I ordered a small…I think he knew I deserved a treat. Thanks Mr. Barista.

Here’s to many more positively not-so-panicked doctor visits!

Cheers!

I’m open to being open

Since I am unfortunately no longer on anti-anxiety meds I have been using various other resources and ideas to keep from having panic attacks. I get my ideas from a wide variety of sources; the Internet, Barnes and Noble, Oprah, other blogs, magazines, yoga, and friends’ advice.

Several techniques seem to help, but one in particular has shown dramatic improvement in my stress levels. And, since I promised to share some methods that have helped me, here’s my number one…

This blog. Or more accurately…being open and honest with all of you.

It’s so simple, since I’ve dropped my cloak of shame, threw out the guilt, and started publicly writing about my “excited outbursts”, my panic attacks have been dwindled down to practically nothing. Who knew it was so easy! Not me, I was afraid this would cause more fear and panic.

I was so scared for most of my life to admit to anyone that I had a problem. I felt like I was losing my mind and I was terrified people would judge me. I didn’t want to be thought of as crazy or unstable, or for people to think less of me.

I think I come off as a pretty stable, happy person. I’m pretty sure responsible, hardworking, and creative are common words people would use to describe me, and I didn’t want that to change.

So I wrote my first two blog posts months before I posted them. I read them almost daily. I made fiance read them to assure me I didn’t come off as crazy or whiney.

When I finally got the courage to press “publish”, I just looked at fiancé and asked “did I just make a huge mistake?”. Do I really want this public??? I hadn’t even shared this with some of my closest friends… What the hell did I just do?!

The responses I soon received proved that I had not made a mistake. Several people messaged me, called me, or commented with nothing but encouraging and supportive words. I was shocked by the positive messages I received. Such. Kind. Words.

I cannot describe to you the relief I felt. Not only have I become honest with myself, but with everyone, and no one seems to think less of me! And if they do, they’ve kept it to themselves. Even if someone judges me now, I don’t care. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and I feel like a new, healthier, happier, honest person.

But, more than be accepted by my peers, I’ve connected with several others who have the same problems, and can relate and understand what a panic attack feels like, the shame that follows, and the strength needed to carry on. I’ve met people through their own “anxiety” blogs, and through others who read my blog and shared their own stories of high anxiety. I even discovered that a co-worker of mine suffers with frequent panic attacks! All of these people have been inspiring, and have encourage me to continue doing what I’m doing.

All this time I assumed people would think of my anxiety attacks as a weakness, a drama queen trait, or just whining. Now I have a whole community (or maybe a neighborhood) of awesome strong people who assure me I am none of these things.

In the future I hope to meet and get to know more of you who live a life effected by “excited outbursts”. Maybe we can all get together one day, share anti-anxiety meds, and go sky diving, or just walk past a hospital in my case.

I hope this inspires others to be open with their own trials or tribulations. It’s been absolute therapy for me.

Thank you all!

Cheers!