The mind is a powerful thing. Your nervous system is a powerful thing. My first experience with high anxiety was back in my corporate working days. Must have been the year 2000. I had just transferred to a new department and got a new job- totally out of my comfort zone, but I loved it. About 2 months in, my boss told me he was going to cross train me with Patty’s job, I’d be helping her out. Her job was a huge job, massive responsibility, waaaay out of my comfort zone. I felt overwhelmed, but I plugged along and learned the job and things were going great until she gave notice that she was leaving. Now I had to do her job and my job and both jobs were huge jobs. I started getting massive headaches, heart flutters, feeling nausous, nearly passing out, bowel issues, jittery and shaky. This went on for a few days, getting worse and worse each day until I remembered that my mom had a panic attack when I was in high school- maybe that’s what was happening to me?
Panic attacks are intense periods of fear or feelings of doom developing over a very short time frame — up to 10 minutes — and associated with at least four of the following:
Sudden overwhelming fear
Shortness of breath
A feeling of being detached from the world (de-realization)
Fear of dying
Numbness or tingling in the limbs or entire body
Chills or hot flushes
Am I having a panic attack? I don’t feel “panicked”. I feel stressed out, a little scared and nervous, but not “panicked”.
I saw my doctor and she said I was experiencing high anxiety. She suggested I lighten my load, try to remove some stressors, but I told her there weren’t any stressors that could be removed! I knew once I was comfortable with the job and had all my training wrapped up and under my belt I’d be OK, I just needed to work through that. She prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication and some depression medication to take for just a month.
Omigosh it helped tremendously. And I weaned myself off as she suggested and that was the end of it.
Since that time, I’ve been able to identify when my body has had enough and I stop, prioritize, delegate, and go on my merry way.
The problem is, I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy having a full plate. I enjoy having a level of stress in my life. I like tackling problems and fixing things and doing things myself. I don’t like to ask for help. It’s a fine line that I ride…..I’m usually just on the edge of having too much going on.
Last year was the second time I started experiencing high anxiety. It was during Bob’s final days, I had a child injured in my childcare, we had full schedules with soccer and gymnastics and basketball. My plate was full. I had offered to write the Eulogy and do the memorial folder, organize photographs from family, help plan the memorial service. I was starting to get those same feelings- heart flutters, twitching, numbness, feeling nauseous, diarrhea, shaky, jittery, sweating. I immediately called my doctor and asked to be put on Ativan just for a week or two, until I could get past it.
Whew. Smooth sailing ever since. Sure there’s been a few bumps, but nothing big. Until now.
I’m currently approaching another period of high-anxiety. I’m overwhelmed with responsibilities. Every weeknight is filled with soccer or karate…wanna know how many “appointments” that is per week? 9-10. That’s 9-10 trips out of our house per week.
Also adding to my plate: I have three kids that need to see the dentist, and all three have cavities or sealants needed- which means more appointments. Trevor still has monthly orthodontic appointments. Now Brooke and Riley have early-intervention orthodontic appointments, too! I need to have a physical and also see my dentist this month. And of course all of the dental and doctor apppointments have to happen between 8-5pm, which is quite a challenge with my line of work!
Jim doesn’t really have a job that allows him to take time off to do these things, so I have to arrange a sub to cover the daycare so I can take my kids, or I need to arrange someone else to take my kids for me. I’m still seeing the chiropractor twice a month. Brooke has a talent show next week (during daycare hours of course), Trevor has his 8th grade graduation coming up (during daycare hours of course), Freshman parent night is in two weeks. It’s currently tax prep time, too.
All of these things are things that NEED to be done, they won’t go away. Add in the usual household and parenting requirements, and my daycare requirements, and it’s a recipe for system overload.
OH, I forgot about the process of purchasing the 4100 house. And wait, there’s more! There’s people in our homeowner’s association trying to shut down the family daycares in the neighborhood (including mine) and I’ve had to spend hours researching Oregon statues and zoning laws and county codes and CC&Rs and By-Laws and and and and….
My husband has been helping out with the household stuff and doing more of the sports drop-offs or pick-ups, and not requiring dinner on the table every night. And my mom has volunteered to take the girls to karate one day a week for me. And I’ve found a sub who can cover almost all of my doctor/dentist appointments for the next month or so. Some relief, but apparently not enough.
My wake-up call was last week after calling the homeowner of the 4100 house. I was incredibly nervous and it took me a few days of working up the nerve to call. And when I got through to someone- WOW. My nerves were in knots, on fire, exploding. I felt like I was going to puke, I was overwhelmed. And after it was all over, I was exhausted. So drained, so tired, so “dead” feeling. If I can get that worked up over a phone call then there’s something going on.
Shaking, feeling numbness, hot flashes, cold flashes, nausea, diarrhea, feeling detached and depressed. I felt that way all weekend. I had to step back and look at the big picture. Sure my plate is full, but it’s about the same level of fullness as always. I had to look deeper. I realized that I’d been avoiding something and not being honest with myself. It was time to address it.
And you know my philosphy of “Everything Happens for a Reason”….well, I woke up to this Facebook posting this morning:
Know what? That is spot on. I am strong. I know that. And sometimes I show-off how strong I am by taking on more than I can handle.
And I realize that I’ve tried to control things that are out of my control. So I let go of the reins this week and now I’m on a wild ride, taking it one step at a time and hoping the horse and I end up at the same place in the end! And if we don’t, well, I’ve got two legs to walk back. And I’m not afraid to ask for a ride.