March 20, 2017Mental Health


Since December I’ve suffered through the winter blues, which consisted mostly of feeling anxious of having to walk the dogs through the snow and ice and not slip and break a leg or an arm.

But I’ve also experienced some mild anxiety where I’m convinced that I’m about to have a heart attack. I reckon I associate winter with heart disease because Greg died of a massive coronary in late November.

Shortly after he passed, I joined a Facebook grieving group and I was told that panic/anxiety attacks would be my new normal and to accept it. I was appalled to read that and I thought it was a sign of weakness. But as I’ve learned these past few months, panic or anxiety attacks can be triggered by many things. Mine are triggered by Greg and Donald Trump’s shared misogyny, bigotry and xenophobia.

It turns out that during the time I lived with Greg, I bottled up a lot of feelings. He was a difficult person and the times I needed to talk things out with him, he dismissed how I felt attributing them to “silly female worries”  Although he’s been gone for almost a year-and-one-half, much of the anger and frustration manifested itself into anxiety attacks. With the exception of one visit to the ER, I’ve weathered through the stress, but it has left its mark: my blood pressure is high, and the doctor prescribed 100 mg metoprolol to take daily. Apart from treating high blood pressure, metoprolol is also used to for anxiety. So I’m on a multipurpose medication. Yay me (written in a sarcastic tone).

I’ve been on the metoprolol for three weeks and I’ve noticed a significant change. I’m not as anxious. I don’t seem to ruminate as much as I did. However, I’ve also noticed a few things and that’s the obsessive need to research every ache and pain. I discovered that in spite of joking about my hypochondria, it’s in fact an anxiety disorder. One that I’ve had since dealing with my precancer bout.

So I made a pact with myself: I take my medicine, I meditate, I exercise, I acknowledge the anxiety when I experience it, but I don’t dwell on it. If I have some physical discomfort, I don’t go running to WebMD to look up the symptoms. That feeds the disorder, drives my blood pressure up, and  ruins the entire day.

My next step is to see a therapist for some talk therapy. I know I have to work through several issues—one is the anger with myself for staying in a relationship that physically and emotionally harmed me, and another is this newfound fear and uncertainty that seems to accompany me everywhere I go.

Although I tend to be patient with others, I’m not very patient with myself. But to accept and defeat this, I know I’ll have to tell the fear to get lost because there are books to be written, people to meet, places to travel and live a full and happy life.