Do I really need to add to that headline?
I’m a few hours after recovering from my second Alert Status Red panic attack in less than a week. I’ve been under an enormous amount of stress since October of last year. Aside from my Usual Crappy Fibro symptoms, last fall I had severe vertigo, which took months to correct. When that subsided, I found a huge lump in my right breast the day after Christmas 2016. My doctor was quite concerned so she signed an urgent request for me to be seen at a breast imaging clinic . . . but they were backlogged for two weeks. Those two weeks felt like the end of the world to me. When the breast lump turned out to be a large cyst that could be drained for my comfort, I breathed a sigh of relief. Just a few days before I got the all-clear, I had woken from a deep sleep with severe heart palpitations—nothing like I’d ever experienced before—and I even called 911. Electrodes and electrodes and two ECGs later, the ER doctor said the heart seemed fine; it must be one of my meds, or possibly a panic attack. How can I be panicking in my sleep? I wondered. My family doctor wanted to look into it further and referred me to a cardiology clinic for a Holter monitor. I wore it for 48 hours (I think in February) and still have the scars from the chemical burns I received from the adhesive. Weeks later I got the results that my heart was fine. Oh. Okay. Ladeedadeeda, I continued along happily when . . . oops! More nighttime palpitations. The doctor now recommended I wear a 14-day Holter monitor. This time at least I had better adhesive, so no scars, and the clinic scheduled a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist for late August 2017. In the meantime I was told to call the ER if I had these certain symptoms . . . blah, yada, blah, yada, blah. Let’s see, what else? Oh, I stopped a med that I suspected might have caused the nighttime palpitations only to take another that increased my anxiety. Good times. WAIT, I’m missing the fact that on a routine pelvic ultrasound—I have polycystic ovarian syndrome—they found a complex cyst on my left ovary. That would need follow up and I should do a CA 125 to see if the levels are increased, which maybe kinda sorta could possibly mean ovarian cancer.
ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
Fast forward to last week. By this time I still don’t have a follow-up with a gynecologist about the ovary but several weeks ago I found out the CA 125 was normal. The cyst also hadn’t changed in in size and whatnot on the second ultrasound readout. Okay, that was cool. Deedly-dee-potato, on I went with my life.
I had been feeling pretty good during the last few weeks, walking outside with my rollator or doing gentle treadmill exercise. The husband unit bought me an Apple watch for an early birthday present. Last week I must have jarred the watch while I punched buttons on my treadmill. The heart reading was 214. I was standing still, perfectly fine, no dizziness, no loss of breath, no nausea, but I saw the number and lost my shit. It had been a false reading, but the panic that followed created actual elevated readings (not anywhere near that high, so it was all good). I called 911 because I was alone at home. The EMTs were amazing with me, and even showed how the readings can be altered on their equipment by messing with leads and such. My heart, once again, rocked the ECGs, and at one time I even had twelve electrodes on, so they could assure me my heart looked fine. I talked with the EMTs a lot and felt I didn’t need to go to the hospital, but would call 911 again if my symptoms actually resembled even the odd way women have heart attacks. I knew I was fine.
But since then I’ve been jittery. I’ve been waking up from my sleep in a panic and today (August 7) I had a panic attack when my heart rate increased while exercising—just a teensy itty bitty bit from what it usually is when I walk, but fathoms below what my maximum heart rate should be. I recognised my anxiety was getting out of control.
Sometimes so much is dumped on a person’s shoulders, it’s just too much for the mind to process. I have great coping skills, but I’ve reached the limit where I can deal with things on my own. I told my friend, “I surrender. I need therapy.” Pardon my French, but I absolutely need to bitch like I’ve never bitched before, and to a third party who can handle it professionally. I reckon I don’t need to go every week, but I do need to tend to my mental health exactly the same way as I go to physiotherapy when my joints need maintenance.
If you have cavities, you go to the dentist. If you have anxiety, you go to the doctor and possibly to a therapist. It’s so important not to ignore your mind. I have no stigma about it. If my brain isn’t braining, I need someone to help me brain again. I’m an editor and an author; I need my brain so I can do my job! Also, I’m rather attached to my brain. We’ve been friends a long time.
But yeah, anxiety is a beeyotch. My word, it so is. I’m just glad there are people out there who are trained to teach me how to deal with life when I can no longer manage it on my own. It’s okay to need someone to help you. Who says we have to solve every issue in life by ourselves? I need Noola (my rollator) to walk, so perhaps I need medication and coping skills I haven’t tried before to help me get through this season of my life.
I’ll tell you one thing, I already feel better that I have an appointment for counselling next week. [Since writing this, I’ve also seen a family doctor.] Sometimes knowing that your problem is going to be shared is the first step to chilling out a bit. Admittedly, I do have appointment fatigue from my other health issues, but this therapy session is too important to miss. I want to be at peace and have a correct perspective on what should grab my attention—requiring me to take action—and what should be tossed aside without a care in the world.
Also, I think I need cake. What? Cake makes me happy. BAKE ALL THE THINGS!
Sorry, what was I saying again?
Right. Mental health. Like any other health, it should be tended to, with the utmost quality of care.
I’ll keep you posted, folks. Thanks for reading.
Note: This is my personal story and is not to be substituted for medical advice. There are medical professionals following my physical and mental health, behind the scenes.