I had no illusions or lofty expectations for my birthday last Friday. Some Chinese food and relaxing were on the agenda. My week was going okay. I was beginning my next semester as a graduate student, and I was ahead of schedule, which gave me a rare day off–and on my birthday no less! It seems anxiety and stress had a different idea.
Back in January 2017, I was in the midst of the worst two months of anxiety in my life. My levels of anxiety were so high every day that it was impossible to function, and most days, I failed. My doctor has tried unsuccessfully to take me off Ativan, and getting back on only made things worse. For the three weeks I was off benzodiazepines in December, I was on a rollercoaster of anxious thoughts, anxiety, isolation, and panic attacks.
The culmination was a week and a half in the hospital with bleeding ulcers (where I was literally bleeding in my stomach so much I was puking pints of blood), and I had to go through several blood transfusions and an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy three times. The first time I had a panic attack just before and passed out from the blood when they had to pull it prematurely. I spent two days in the ICU because of the loss of blood. It was the worst painful experience of my life. When I finally got the two endoscopies, first to fix the issues and then to see if it worked, my stomach was never the same for two years. I gave up meat entirely.
Afterward, when I went home, I realized that my anxiety can be a dangerous thing if left unchecked. I began to makes changes with adding meditation, and though I had issues over the next two years with what I could eat, and what made me hurl was an adventure. I got better at dealing with anxious thoughts, and panic attacks were not a weekly occurrence for the most part.
It was never perfect, but last summer, I was able to slowly reintroduce meat into my diet. It was good, and life was good. I wrote a 210,000-word novel and a 30K novella in just four months. No issues with my stomach. I took my daily dose of the neutralizing stomach acid medicine, and with the change from Ativan to Clonazepam last year, I was able to find some relative balance. Then COVID-19 happened.
I am not blaming everything on the virus. In truth, I am to blame for allowing fear, which I have talked about in the past, from taking over my life. Last week it culminated for the first time since 2019 that I had terrible stomach issues. The weekend I had to tone things down and change my diet (which included once again giving up coffee), and I had to de-stress my life. I walked away from social media and writing all weekend. I stayed in bed (which didn’t help my depression, but you can’t win every battle).
Monday, I felt a bit normal, and today I was able to eat. I am working not stressing out. Playing video games and writing helps. Also, not following every single article on COVID-19 really helped me. I am hopeful the upward trend continues. Less stress and more focusing on the positives. I am healthy and social distancing like I am supposed to, and I can only control what is in my orbit. Life indeed is too short to spend it obsessing if I will or won’t get sick. I am not going to go out and lick things, but social media takes a back seat. I will continue to do my part.
Last weekend was a life lesson in the dangers of anxiety and anxious thoughts.
Always Keep Fighting
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