Last Saturday night, I was pretty sure that I was having a heart attack. I was sweaty and hot; my heat was racing and my stomach hurt. Then, I remembered my arms were hurting the week before.
All I could think of was Rosie O’Donnell talking about the subtle symptoms of a women’s heart attack on her new documentary on HBO, A Heartfelt Standup. After applying the Dora the Explorer Ice Pack to my head and the Lighting McQueen one to my chest, I felt a little better.
The next day I had a burning in my chest, and I felt cranky. I decided to go for a walk outside because if this wasn’t a heart attack, it was a panic attack, and I needed to relieve some pressure.
When I made an appointment with my doctor on Monday, the receptionist was very upset that I didn't go to the ER. I am upset that I didn't go. Had anyone told me that they experienced the same thing, I would have told them to go.
But there was a small kernel of doubt that it might be anxiety. I had that itchy, agitated feeling – kind of like I imagine my computer feels like when I have a gagillion tabs opened at once.
When my EKG and blood work came back normal, I felt pretty certain it was a panic attack, even though my doctor thought it was the brined chicken wings with truffle oil appetizer and the steak with zip sauce I had for dinner the night before causing me indigestion.
|Guys, this food was so amazing! I am kind of upset with my doctor even suggested|
this culinary masterpiece may have caused my issue.
But most likely, it was an anxiety attack. At first, I could not think of a specific event that caused this spiral. Then again, for me, anxiety is everything and nothing at the same time.
When I really started to think about it, I remember how I have not felt like myself since January. I attributed it to the holiday hangover/burnout. Then there were some snow days, and then Thomas had the stomach flu and then more unexpected illnesses with extended family. Next thing I know, it was President’s weekend with a day off with an additional two days off due to extreme cold. During this time, Harrington was traveling a lot. Also note that Marie now goes to physical therapy twice a week BEFORE school which is hard enough without carrying the emotional weight of her previous time spent in PT as a baby.
My self-care routine, which I guard closely, had s l o w l y become derailed. Ever since becoming a mom, I've really committed to figuring out what keeps me level. With lots (and lots) of trial and error, I have discovered that yoga/meditation, sleep, and running work for me.
With all that extra stuff going on, the first thing to go is sleep. If they are home from school, I need to get all the things done before they wake up or after they go to bed. This will then affect my workout schedule. And when Harrington is traveling for work, that puts another variable in my master plan to get stuff done.
Then I try to escape on my phone before bed, which is the worst thing I can do to find peace in my day.
Before I know it, my body is saying, “Whoa. Slow your roll, lady. This is not working.”
I love my kids and I love my work, so if I am going to be embracing the things that I love, then have to make sure that I am taking care of me.
Despite -25 degree wind chill weather.
Despite kids home for whatever reason.
Despite other people travel plans, sicknesses, or schedules.
The positive in all of this (because I really need there to be a positive at this point) is that my self-care system really works. And I shouldn’t ever underestimate it.
Do you suffer from anxiety attacks? How do you take care of yourself?