A New Normal

by RS on January 18, 2016

After Greg’s death, many friends offered to help me, telling me if I needed anything not to hesitate and ask. As I mentioned in the Conquering the Windmill of Personal Debt, a GoFundMe account was launched and what has been contributed helped me get through December.

A friend from high school added me to a community on Facebook to help me go through the grieving process. It’s there for support, to rant, to ask questions and to also make new friends.

Although it’s a lovely group of men and women, I somehow don’t feel as if I fit in. To be honest, my grieving doesn’t seem to be as intense as the other participants in the group.

I probably come across as heartless, but I believe I need to move on and not focus on the loss. Greg is gone. I can’t bring him back. It’s winter in the Adirondacks, and my primary concern is to keep the dogs and me warm, fed, and with a roof over our heads. I can’t afford to waste time weeping, making myself sick, and not getting enough rest so that I can’t work and or upkeep and maintain this house and the vehicles.

That said, there were two instances when panic set in—the kind when your heart is racing, and you’re close to calling 911 because you’re convinced that you’re on the cusp of a heart attack.

Since December, I’ve had two anxiety attacks. During the second one, I went to the Facebook grieving group and asked if this was part of the process in dealing with the death of a partner. A few of the folks who commented wrote about having several panic attacks throughout the day and needing medication. Others told me they have meditation and yoga practices. Others go to therapists. I was told this was the “new normal.”

I don’t accept it. I believe that if I were living in Southern California with 70-degree weather and not having to carry heavy wood splits into the house or shovel snow that I’d be fine. My two attacks were strictly related to the weather and the fear of having a coronary.

Before it began to snow, the thought of dying of a heart attack was far from my mind. But you hear too many stories of shoveling snow and dropping dead. Right after I shoveled a path from the front door to the driveway (a short distance), although I had no symptoms of potential heart failure, the head games began.

How do I eliminate a potential panic attack? I don’t shovel snow. I make several trips and carry small loads of wood back into the house, and I figure out what is causing the anxiety. If my head refuses to let go, I force it to quit by meditating or participating in activities that turn my focus away from the anxiety.

I know stress will never go away; there will be times I’ll feel anxious about money, work, my health, but that’s life. We all experience these aggravations that are dealt on a daily basis, and we shoulder on without needing medication or running to the ER.

What I refuse to accept, though, is having numerous panic attacks as the new normal. I had two too many. I lost two days I could have been writing, reading, relaxing or working. It won’t happen again. Cross my strong heart, and will not die.

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