I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to write a post specifically on my journey with anxiety. I actually reference it in a lot of my posts and I tell some bits and pieces of the story along the way.
I think it could be part embarrassment or shame for me to tell the story since I consider myself a strong person. I’ve also spent the past 6 or more years advocating for women’s health. I’m sure, from many people’s perspective, it might look like I’ve got it all together. I know now that anxiety is not a sign of weakness.
Anxiety is such as common symptom for us over-achieving women. I see it everyday.
I see anxiety turn up as a symptom in the assessments that I do with women, time and time again.
I sent myself to the hospital twice for anxiety. The first time, I didn’t know that it was anxiety. The second time, I was pretty sure [after a clear medical assessment] that it was anxiety.
I’d always had that “uneasy in the pit of my stomach” feeling pretty early on in my twenties and at the start of my career. I initially started in operations within a very large, global company. I worked predominately in a male-centered organization, where you had to have some grit in order to not get trampled over. I decided to work my ass off regardless of the impact on my health.
I left a job of about 7 years when I started to dread coming to work. For one reason, I was bullied by my manager [who was subsequently fired for sexually harassing a colleague of mine]. I also felt an enormous desire to be in a more meaningful career [although, at the time, I wasn’t sure if I new exactly what that would be].
I quit, took 3 months off which was a big [maybe a risky] step to find what I loved. I found a HR/Recruiting job where, after almost two years, the company downsized and I was laid off. Another two months off in search for that “meaningful career” [which I still didn’t know what it was].
I was lucky enough to score a year-long contract working on the Olympic project here in Vancouver as an HR Manager. I worked 14 hours a day, drank more than I should have, and I decided to take up my casual smoking habit again [This was around the time that I made incredible shifts in my health which led me to where I am now].
The position ended about a year and a few months later, and I walked into the Canadian recession.
Jobless for 10 months. I literally treated my job search as a job but the economy was so bad that it took me that long to find one.
It was during this time where I started to have what I can only describe as “episodes”. I couldn’t [and really still cannot] describe the feeling. It was almost like a feeling or wave of a feeling coming over me, where I felt that I would lose control if I succumbed to it.
I know now that a lot of people with anxiety feel like they are losing control. This is likely my best description of it.
Over a period of a few weeks, these “episodes” would come more frequently. I remember standing in a parking lot with James one time when it happened. I just tried to take some deep breaths hoping that it would just go away. Eventually it did.
On one particular night, I had episode, and I was all alone. Because James wasn’t there, I didn’t know what to do. So I called a cab, and off I went to the hospital. It was my first trip to the emergency room in my entire adult life. I was quickly prioritized because a lot of the symptoms were in my chest. I was then hooked up to any and every machine possible.
Enter hot doctor [of course!].
He reviewed my charts and everything was a-okay. At the same time, he warned me about being conscious of any MS symptoms moving forward, and then sent me home.
I walked home in a daze thinking “what the hell is going on with me?”
At that point, I never had another episode. I think because I was never diagnosed with anything, I was thinking that it was a temporary thing or all in my head. It wasn’t until a year later, when a friend of mine had lost her father from cancer and started to have anxiety attacks herself, that I realized what I had dealt with. I finally had a name to it: anxiety.
Six years later, I had no anxiety attacks and really, no real symptoms of anxiety. I believe I attributed it to an anti-inflammatory diet, and some lifestyle changes like yoga and personal development.
In the summer of 2016, it happened again.
To make a long story short, my mother-in-law was hospitalized suddenly, and when we were leaving to go to see her in Alberta, I started to have tightness in my chest. When we made it to the hospital, I saw her intubated, and the feeling intensified. This was a very different feel than before. The good thing was that I was in the hospital and I felt relatively safe should something happen to me, like a heart attack.
Everything turned out with my mother in law. James and I went off on a vacation that we had planned but I still didn’t feel quite right over the course of my time away.
Several days later, when I arrived to work, the feeling in my chest returned. I called my doctor who immediately told me to go to the hospital. And, the same scenario occured: prioritized assessments, hooked up to every machine, but thankfully, without the hot doctor. And, the same bill of health arrive: nothing medically wrong with you!
I turned to the comforting, female doctor that I had and said: I think I just had a major anxiety attack.
Anxiety is no joke. It’s confusing. It can be scary. It creeps up when you least expect it. It brings up a lot of feelings of shame and we often don’t talk about it because of that. I mean, I am a strong woman, so why does this happen to me?
I learned from an intuitive healer that anxiety is related to fear of the future, while as depression is lamenting on the past.
INSERT: makes perfect sense HERE!
I speak about my anxiety story simply to reassure you that anxiety is not a weakness. In fact, I now look at it as a strength. It’s most always tied to desiring to achieve something. That’s a strength.
However, maybe we just need to trust the process and the course of life versus trying to force the process of life. I’ve been redirecting my anxiety to manifestation meditations and intention setting. It’s a complete energetic shift that I am drawn to utilizing.
Below, I am going to offer you a few resources that you may find helpful, including my Free Radical Self Care Kit.
Before I do, tell me: do you experience anxiety? And, if so, what do you attribute it to?