Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter, Anxiety, and Self-Care

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.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot Winter, Anxiety, and Self-Care
I needed some fresh air and a fresh view.

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.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot winter anxiety and self-care
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?

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot winter anxiety and self-care

Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar Edition: My Thoughts on American Sniper

 This weekend is the Oscars, and I'm so excited! Now that I have both kids in school, I've been able to sneak away to the movies during the day. And let me tell you, going to the movies in the afternoon during the week is as close to a private screening that I can get. Just me and a handful of senior citizens. 

To date I have seen the following movies (not including The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life, and Annie):

St. Vincent (which was the first movie I saw in the theater all by myself)!

 Guys, I haven't been to the movies this many times since I was a childless with disposable income!

Out of all the movies, American Sniper was by far the most moving. After seeing it, I became obsessed with Chris Kyle's story. I read anything about him and his story that came across my Facebook newsfeed. Believe me when I say there is not shortage of information on Chris Kyle and American Sniper.
I was confused why people were criticizing the lack of politics in the movie. This made no sense to me because this was not supposed to be a lesson in politics: it’s one man’s story which contains the raw and harsh realities of war on the human spirit.
I read a lot of posts and articles declaring this a story about the difficulties faced by the military when they re-assimilate back into society. This I understood because the movie did show his heartbreaking struggles.  This powerful post from OAF written by Grifter that came across my newsfeed was one of the most riveting pieces I read about American Sniper:

But I saw something more.  I saw a man who had a unique skill set and a heart that wanted to protect what he loved: a true sheepdog, as his father explained.  I think that was why he was so successful at what he did.  He was living aligned with his passion: to help people.  

This became clear for me when he was in the psychiatrist's office, and Kyle was asked if he suffering from guilt for the things he had done in war. Kyle responded, "I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill  . . . our soldiers and I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.  The thing that . . . haunts me are all the guys I couldn’t save."

This scene was like a lighting rod in my gut; so powerful, so pure.  It’s complicated and simple at the same time.

 My takeaway was that he was lost when he couldn't help people in the way he knew how.  But it was in this scene that the psychiatrist was able to redirect his passion by helping soldiers heal from PTSD. 

His story of living in line with his passion to help people is achingly beautiful.  I am moved that, despite extremely dangerous situations in Iraq and painfully disorienting transitions back home, he had the unwavering courage to be true to himself and his purpose.  He could have stayed on his rodeo path, but as he said, he felt there was something more for himself.

I don’t claim to know one thing about military life.  I learned a lot in this movie, gaining a whole new level of appreciation for military men and women.  And I will forever be inspired by his passion and courage to live an authentic life.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot American Sniper Chris Kyle quote