When it All Comes Crashing DownJul 24, 2020
I try my best to not only share the good times, but to also share the times I've had to literally reprogram my life. I'm guilty of sometimes "highlighting" I'm gracefully entering the next phase of my life. It comes with new challenges, and discoveries.
I thought I was immune
Trigger warning content: anxiety
It was a damp winter morning December 2019. I began to feel my heart race, the room spinning, and the walls closing in on me,
I felt my heart beating faster than it ever has, like exploding from my chest. I thought maybe it was a stroke - it couldn’t be anxiety- I’m happy, I’m positive, I don’t worry much. Must be low blood sugar.
Over the course of the following month I was nauseous every day. I began to think there was a silent problem developing in my body from a fibroid medication prescribed to me to prep for an upcoming hysterectomy.
Outside of the intense nautia I was feeling good. All my fibroid symptoms were gone from the medication I was taking. "Hmmmmm…. Maybe a hysterectomy is not for me," I thought.
I called my surgeon and asked to talk about options. When I first went to see her, I just wanted to fix this “once and for all” It wasn't my first flare up in my lifetime, but this one was the worst by far. At the time my iron count was low, I was anemic, and my hemoglobin was outside of the surgery comfort zone.
I was prescribed this drug to stop the bleeding, and shrink the fibroids for a safer surgery. I agreed to do it as prep.
This medication has a history of being hard on the liver so my blood was being monitored monthly.
My blood to monitor my liver was coming back good...but then it happened.
Thursday morning at 5:30 am: I’m writing a book. I wrote the piece where I lost my dad to a stroke- I release some tears, and move on with the day.
9:00 am : The doctor’s office calls for a redo on the bloodwork they took 9 days ago as it came back faulty ( I didn’t understand that it meant the vial had an air pocket that damaged the sample- I thought it meant my liver was off)
12:00 pm : Accepted our new dog into foster - A big fear washed over me remembering the loss of our last dog, and I so wanted this to go well, I had been longing for another dog for so long..."You can’t screw this up Karen"
12:30 pm : MASSIVE nausea as I drove to the clinic to get a blood test.
Some time Thursday afternoon I decided to stop the meds because I was sure it was eating my liver. My mind got away from me and I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t sleep, I was terrified. The veins on my chest were bright purple.
Friday Morning - I tried to walk our new dog with Barry but couldn’t get 2 feet without feeling like I was going to pass out. I went inside and lied down and called my mom. I was sure my liver was shutting down. The nausea was unbearable.
I was waiting for my test results. My auntie was at my mom’s house and she said it sounded like I was having an anxiety attack.
Me??? No way!
We got off the phone and I called in for the results.
Medically I was fine.
It got worse before it got better. The hormonal shift I experienced from stopping the meds triggered unbearable anxiety. It had me crying in the surgeons office begging for answers and relief.
I was locked in a place where the walls were constantly closing in on me. Light, sound, and my entire body was constantly peaking. When it would rest, my brain had no retention. At times I couldn’t stay awake.
I tried to stick with my morning routine that had grounded me for more than a decade.
Wake up, drink coffee, work out, gratitude, shower, breakfast , work...
What had once grounded me was now triggering intense internal agony. I think the worst part was the uncertainty. I didn’t know the cause of the intense dizziness that fed more fear, nor how long it would last, I didn’t know what to do to soothe, I had never been there before. It was all soooo...uncertain.
I knew I could not do this alone- for the first time in my life I completely felt alone and helpless, even though I had amazing support from my husband. I tried so hard to be, act, and feel normal and to hide what I was feeling- but people saw right through me. I couldn’t hide.
I asked for help from my doctor. I thought I would be admitted to the hospital for sure that day. I wasn’t. My doctor reassured me, and taught me how “to ride the wave”
She helped me design a morning routine that would help me feel grounded as my nervous system leveled back out. I felt understood.
Once my bloodwork came back squeaky clean, and actually showed massive improvements in the hemoglobin and iron area, I felt like I was going to be okay.
My job was to manage my morning cortisol which meant no coffee, no fasted workouts, yoga for beginners, and walks with my new dog in the fresh snow.
For work, I had a list of only what mattered for that day.
I had to be kind to myself.
There are silent anxiety triggers that I would have never picked up on had I not studied nutrition for years. I was guilty of pushing too hard at everything.
And when I mixed that with triggers outside of my control I had to reverse everything I had ever learned for weight loss and management into what I can do to help my nervous system get out of fight or flight.
The things that had to stop :
Pre workout supplements
Coffee (only a couple of days)
All of the above were stressors on my body, not all bad, and designed that way to help my metabolism. Of course something like lifting weights is good for you however constantly asking your body to be in repair is also stress.
At the time my body didn’t know what the activity was for stress to be triggered - it just knew stress.
My cortisol cup was overflowing.
I had to begin again like I’d never exercised a day in my life.
I had to consume balanced calories from the moment I woke and every couple of hours thereafter to keep my blood sugar stable.
I had to ditch my current workout program and start with a beginner yoga program.
I tossed my preworkout aside.
I went without coffee for 4 days.
I didn’t hide that I was struggling.
I set up small goalmarkers.
And it worked. What I realized in hindsight was that I ignored the signs and passed them off as I just needed to suck it up and get stronger.
I’ve always expected myself to improve no matter what the outside circumstances are.
Through this I learned that when what I can’t control gets a grip on my life, there is always something I can control to get better.
It’s not easy...I thought I knew what anxiety was before this, and boy was I ever wrong.
Today I am back to "normal"except I’m a little more forgiving. I worry a little less about my body size and much more about my body care. And in grasping that I’ve become lighter physically and mentally. I've also healed my symptoms for the most part and the hysterectomy has officially been ruled out.
There are so many things we can't control right now. More so than what we are used to. After the pandemic our ENTIRE lives have changed. There is stress we LEGIT can't control. There are things we can control.
The answer is not always "work harder" "think positive" 'shut off the media" It's hard to know what to do without taking a look deep inside yourself and acknowledge the presence of a new season of life.
And another reminder - talk to someone- you can talk to me - talk to your doctor-phone the Crisis Line
When people asked me how they could help when "I was on a BIG wave" that would make it bigger- I didn't have the answer. But when I felt understood and supported the waves turned to ripples much faster-
It's hard to pinpoint the cause when you are "in it"