My first experience with what I know now as a panic attack was when I was overwhelmed emotionally when I received a phone call about my boyfriend being unfaithful.
The second was the day that my brother died by suicide, this one was obviously more intense, and amplified even further by the fact that I was only just 4 months pregnant- and it was my at the time intensifying the scenario with the threatening feeling of the possibility of also losing my unborn child, as well as the natural occurrence of the grieving process for individuals that lose someone to death, no matter the cause.
So, like I said, in my mind those are isolated incidents that were “handled”. I identified as someone who who had taken care of the anxiety that I needed to in my life. And if I am being really really honest, I judged people for being unable to beat it… because I had, or so I thought .
The clear indication that I was not physically capable of getting ready for work proved that was a lie.
I had not taken care of it- obviously! So many things came flooding to my mind in those moments where I could no longer put on the metaphorical mask… whilst I was attempting to put on my own literal mask… (oh, the irony is palpable now! ) the hour or so it would take me to get ready in the morning to “present myself” as the put together person that I was, every single day I wore my mask, that I didn’t even realize I was putting on- until the day that I just couldn’t.
I had just experienced a very abrupt removal from my life due to illness that rendered me unable to show up in my life, including being a mom of two, an oilfield wife (at the time), oh, and working full time as the Executive Assistant to the President/ CEO of a not for profit, you know… my actual dream life.
First I emailed my boss to tell her that I would not be in… which was exceptionally difficult because I had just completed my graduated return to work from being off on short term disability for a few months… and we were coming up to the next round of board meetings, for two boards (I apparently like to be an over achiever… you know because the complexities of being the EA for one board of directors, isn’t enough. (sometimes my ego is an idiot!)
Then I called my mother in law and asked if she could come and care for my kids while I take care of this, not really understanding what THIS was at the time I started with my family doctor.
Then I went to my doctors office… explained the situation to her and was given a list of phone numbers to call when I got home. I left the doctors office feeling increasingly more helpless, and in fact each time I asked for help medically I was usually offered another source for help I had to ask for. It was an abuse cycle in and of itself, chasing the help, like chasing a high.
It feels obnoxious to always be talking about yourself while you heal… especially when you literally cant show up for people the way that you normally do. It feels obnoxious to need to ask people to respect your boundaries consistently as you learn what they are for yourself with trial and error as you navigate the shitstorm that is currently your life.
I lost so many opportunities for connections with my children, and my husband, my family and my friends, all lost to zero energy or what I now know is adrenal fatigue. I went to therapy to help me through grieving the loss of that time with my children, the guilt I had from that little tidbit of my illness alone was a hard pill to swallow. Just the loss of the time.
Due to this heightened awareness I was able to easily recognize the feelings of discontent with my situation , and I was applying the things that I had been researching while I was sick. I was able to ask for the help that I needed in an expedited way because of my research and because of the “new diagnosis of the week” approach I had adapted to in order to relentlessly fight this thing! I wanted to figure it out so that I could get back to my life and off of my forced hiatus.
Because of my research, before I had even met with my diagnosing specialist I asked for a referral to an endocrinologist. I was refused the referral because I was just a pelvic pain patient- it wasn’t until I actively advocated for myself, and then again came back with another request following my diagnosis that the Endocrinologist (who in the endocrine system… the one that regulates the hormones, you know that little system)… the closest thing medically to a Central Nervous System specialist… I asked for that appointment- twice! (Fuck I love being right!)
So, technically, without a medical degree, I led my doctors to the solution with my research and my advocacy and my fight against myself to be authentic. By fought I mean I FOUGHT, and continue to fight for my rights as a patient, and struggle against the shame and abrasiveness that is the medical system and insurance systems that currently grasp control over my capabilities in my life, holding me in limitations due to wait times or current processes.
Along the way I became more mindful of where I was coping in my life today. I realized that I had a binge eating disorder. I was never encouraged to learn how to be more emotionally intelligent, only to learn how to cope in different, more damaging ways.
Be gentle on yourself if you notice yourself coping… then go and have a little heart to heart with yourself about what is really going on here.
When you have put in the work to educate yourself in emotional intelligence you have become an adult in my eyes, until then we are all just literal emotional children walking around sticking our tongues out at people and calling them names and not wanting to play with them anymore when they hurt our feelings. Life is not child’s play, yet so many of us are walking around as undisciplined self righteous assholes, simply because we haven’t checked ourselves, so we are wrecking ourselves literally from the inside out.
I think the most challenging part of illness is that while you go to the doctor to get the prescriptions to help manage your symptoms, any advice beyond the proper dosing of those medications is not offered. “Just take this and come and see me if anything gets worse for you.” is the underlying tone of any medical professional I have stumped in my life.
My diagnosis and its underlying causes indicate that this group of Central Nervous System Syndrome type group of disorders are emerging as being linked to mental health conditions. Some of the evidence points to unresolved abuse cycles literally hiding inside of us. The sneakiest one of all… the one we inherit from our ancestors… its their emotional intelligence- it determines how you were taught to view the world by the humans that helped you into who you are today. As good as their intentions were to do their best and to not fuck you up… they were all protecting you as best they could, but the need to protect inherently means that there is a threat, and for a threat to be a threat there would need to be fear.
Fear creates irrational emotional processing methods. That is a scientific fact.
Emotional intelligence is allowing yourself to respond rather than react to your life.
Anxiety and depression are choices that you make every single day I have learned, and if there is a choice… I am going to choose wellness, chronic wellness.