Hi everyone! I’m starting this week off on an exciting note: I’m back to my normal work schedule and have the next 3 days off! Yay! And boy do I need it! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of last week were pretty scary – my heart pain came back worse than before. It starts as a pinching feeling in my heart and sometimes spreads out to the rest of my chest and my upper back. It comes at random times, like in the afternoons at work when I’m typing up passenger lists and listening to music (not stressful), or while standing outside with my coworker in the mornings waiting for our passengers to arrive (also not stressful). There were no warning signs, but the good news is that there were no other symptoms I would associate with heart attacks like sweating, dizziness, nausea, arm pain, pressure, etc. I also started feeling this weird “shaking” feeling in my heart – it felt like I was shaking, but my body wasn’t shaking at all, it was only my heart and insides that were shaking! That new sensation totally freaked me out and caused me to do the one thing I didn’t want to do, which was Google my symptoms. What I found was that many people experience this pinching/shaking feeling, and they all said that they were diagnosed with anxiety and many were prescribed anti-anxiety meds. This basically sent me over the edge. I don’t want to be on medication, I just want to feel normal again!
Once I realized that my doctor may have been right and I might actually be suffering from pretty extreme anxiety, I realized I couldn’t deal with this alone. So I started talking to my friends about it, as well as my mom. It turns out that many of my friends have been through the same thing, and a few were even prescribed anti-anxiety meds and have been able to stop using them now. The craziest part is that my mom told me that shortly after I moved up here she was feeling the same symptoms, and rushed to the hospital to get tests only to find that the cause was anxiety! How is this so common? Why is no one talking about this? I felt so alone and scared until I learned that other people are/have experienced the same thing and have gotten through it. It acted as a mini-breakthrough for me, and after talking to my friends we ended up having a fun night shopping for flannel shirts at the Fish House (this is what we resort to without any real stores in Seward) and going to an improv comedy night that our coworkers were hosting at a local coffee shop. I woke up yesterday morning feeling much better than usual – and surprisingly much happier too! I went all morning with only minimal inner shaking and very mild pains, and after having a successful morning putting a few hundred cruise ship passengers on our tour boats I celebrated with a blended caramel mocha from my favorite coffee place! I seriously missed coffee and I swear I felt so much better after drinking it! And the best part of the day? IT FINALLY STOPPED RAINING!
The past few weeks of dealing with stress, sadness, and chest pain has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned that there are so many things we want for ourselves, so many ways we think we can improve, and so many ideas of how we can finally be “happy”. Facebook, blogs, and social media in general does this to us – we see the best parts of people’s lives and that’s all we compare ourselves too. I’ve read so many blog posts that make me feel inferior because I can’t keep up with the lives that these people are living. I’m not running 14 miles at a 7:00/mile pace at once or waking up at 5:30 to workout (I do wakeup at 5:30 to go to work, does that count?) or eating only non-processed foods – and you know what? That’s fine right now. I don’t need to measure up to anyone else – I need to be the best Kristen that I can be right now and not stress over the future or where I think I should be. And I’m learning that to do that, sometimes you just really need…
- To go running as hard and fast as you can and to feel incredible at the end. Bonus points if your heart doesn’t hurt at the end. Super extra bonus points if you don’t care that your idea of fast is running your last mile in 9:10 – and being super excited about it!
- To drink that coffee and trust that your body can handle the caffeine the same way it always does.
- To find a ridiculous, probably unhealthy Pinterst recipe and make it for dinner. This week’s recipe: a grilled cheese sandwich made with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni that you dip in marinara sauce instead of tomato soup. In case you were wondering, it was incredible.
- To watch Disney movies with your friends and sing along to the songs.
- To hike in the rain and not worry about your hair.
- To call your mom and cry with her. It feels so much better once you get it all out, and moms aren’t allowed to judge.
- To eat that damn cookie. Because fresh baked, crispy yet gooey cookies are hard to find, and if the crew of the Coastal Explorer can make them every day and bring leftovers back to the office you should definitely eat them.
- To start the Blogilates beginner month-long workout challenge and to really look forward to doing small workouts every night because it means you’re making yourself stronger (more on this later!).
Each and every one of those things happened this week, and they are the moments I want to focus on – not the ones where I worried about every detail about my scary unknown upcoming future/the rest of my life and what could go wrong. I’m going to keep taking things one day at a time while calmly working towards my short term goals of finishing the Beat the Blerch half feeling strong, hiking all over Seward, getting healthier in my own way/at my own rate, and getting a PSL as soon as they go on sale. Because YOLO, right?
Have you ever had anxiety like mine? How do you focus on the positives when life is super stressful? What awesome silly things did you do last week?