I have to admit, there have been times, many times…that we’ve visited the ER upon sudden onset of symptoms following or nearly right before a severe anxiety attack.
In the last year I’ve had “cancer, blood clots, lyme disease, thyroid disease, a brain tumor, gallbladder disease, been pregnant…” the list goes on and it’s terrifying. Most of the time during these visits to the ER, I’ve completely exited my body and have no remembrance of even sitting in the waiting room or getting tests done because the anxiety has taken over my mind and body to the point of basically blacking out. It makes me a zombie. I’ve had thyroid ultrasounds, breast exams, EKGs, blood tests, X rays…and they’ve all come back normal. What?! The symptoms were real, they actually existed. I swear I’m not making this up for sympathy, I DON’T want it to be this way. It’s exhausting, it’s quite terrifying, and I just want to feel NORMAL.
More recently, the anxiety has kept me locked up inside of our home, my comfort zone, and emotionally out of control. It causes headaches, nausea, extreme fatigue, constant thoughts of illness and doomed health, and other insane symptoms. At the onset of an attack, my hands and feet sweat, they tingle, and it feels like pins have been stuck into every nerve of my body…Here it comes…
Face is numb, I can barely see a thing.
Heart racing, that’s it, I’m having a heart attack.
Arms numb, shit how can I tell if it’s a heart attack, can’t feel my arms.
Nauseous. So nauseous.
Lay down, you need to lay down before you pass out.
No, can’t pass out.
Won’t pass out.
Terrified of passing out.
Yes, an air vent. Crawl towards the air vent.
If the air is cold, I can’t tell if my face is still numb, perfect.
Shit, I’m alone. Completely. Alone.
What if I pass out?
I’ll hit my head on the floor.
Wait, I’m laying on the floor.
When will I be found?
Need to look up symptoms of heart attack…
Okay, not a heart attack.
Tumor, it’s a tumor. Definitely a tumor.
Look up symptoms.
Highly probable. (Not really.)
Omg, I have a tumor.
Going to pass out.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
(15 minutes until the kids need to be picked up.)
How will I drive?
I’m going to pass out.
Oh no, what if I pass out after the kids are in the car?
How will I get them in the car, I can’t even get off of this floor.
Bridge. There’s a bridge on the route.
Can’t avoid it.
There’s no code. Oh no, I’m going to pass out while driving the bridge and go over.
Still need to get dressed.
Tightest, tiniest pair of clothes.
Needs to be tight.
Need the compression.
Need to be cold.
Oh no, left it at mom’s house.
No, can’t be possible.
I can’t leave.
I NEED those shorts.
My anxiety shorts.
How could I leave them there?
Oh, yeah…that anxiety attack last week…that’s how.
How will I get the kids?
Brother, please pick up the phone, please…
Here we go, anxiety disrupting someone else’s life.
Forget it, hang up…I can do it. I must do it.
Anxiety about getting off the floor, getting dressed, passing out on the way, nose diving over the bridge, getting out of the car, having a conversation, buckling kids in seats, passing out on the way home….I made it home…don’t remember a thing.
Enjoy the popcorn for dinner…Its time for bed.
These attacks may last for a long 15 minutes or it could last an excruciating 6 hours. They’re not always at home. Sometimes, theyre at the back of a store with a full shopping cart. Sometimes, theyre at friend’s houses, or while driving. Sometimes, they come mid conversation and totally unexpected. And the next day isn’t any better.
The day after an anxiety attack is exhausting. My body is in intense pain from being so worked and tense the day before. My head aches and eating…is out of the question. I’m either ridiculously constipated or can’t hold my shit together…literally. It’s intense. And it SUCKS.
My husband tries to understand it and he tries his hardest to be supportive but, it’s taxing. My kid’s have seen my cry, they’ve seen me curled into a ball in my underwear on the kitchen floor, they’ve been with me when I ditch shopping carts at the store or sit in parking lots for an hour as I talk myself down from it.
It’s sad…and lonely…and quite frankly, miserable.
I’m sharing my story because most of the time I feel abnormal and like, even though I know others suffer from anxiety, noone could possibly suffer as severely as the way I do…so, it must be something else wrong that’s causing these feelings. Which leads to weeks or MONTHS of fixation on an ailment or health scare. I just want you to know that I hear you, I understand, I get it. IT SUCKS. And I hope this message finds you as you’re skimming the Internet for diagnosis during your next attack to let you know that this abnormal thing, is some of ours’ normal. You’re not alone.
To the Dr.’s and nurses who work in the ER: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’ve waisted your time and I’m very sorry that I’m not the only one. Hopefully, I was an easy patient for you…one that you needed in between a cold dinner and not so nice patients who come before and after me. I have extreme guilt, and next time, I’ll try my hardest not to resort to the ER if I know it’s just the anxiety. I promise I’m not crazy, even though I know you think I am because I refused that Xanax…but, again, it’s the anxiety…about medication…yes, that too. I am truly sorry, and I hope you understand…I have a nice bed, really, I’m not here by choice…technically I am but, I just needed the reassurance desperately. Otherwise, I don’t know how I’d make it through tomorrow. Thank you for being so nice, and encouraging me to live a more stress free life, and answering all of my extreme questions. Thank you.