A Weekend to Forget: A Lesson That Anxiety Can be Dangerous

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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27 thoughts on “A Weekend to Forget: A Lesson That Anxiety Can be Dangerous

  1. Hmm, I hope I can say this right, because I feel for you. Everyone experiences anxiety, and it manifests itself in different ways but you seem to react physically on top of everything else. I hope you can find a good path through meditation and education, to quell some of your symptoms. I’m glad you’re able to write about your experience because that’s very therapeutic. Keep at it. Best wishes for calmer days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry you went through so much trauma, both mental and physical. I have pretty severe anxiety, myself, that makes it difficult for me to go out and enjoy new places–sometimes I even struggle with mundane activities like grocery shopping. I felt like I was just getting a handle on things when COVID-19 struck and it’s hard not to fear that all of that will return during this time. I’m definitely trying to keep my head up and it helps to hear stories like this one to remind myself that we’re not in this alone! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s all a part of this life. We learnt I adjust. I too have issues with being out in the world but before this happened I was just turning a corner after the death of my mom. I thought things would be better in 2020 but so much has changed. It sucks. I don’t mind the social distancing it’s more the information that is constantly changing to know which way is up and down. I fear a small cough could be major or just allergies which I tend to get at this time of year. It’s been weeks since I went shopping. I have to go this week and I dreading it. Stay strong and always keep fighting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am very sorry that you had to go through such a trial. It is getting better and it will get better each day from now on.
    I myself suffer from GERD because of my other disorders too so I experiment with food all the time as well :D.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve stripped everything away that isn’t absolutely necessary. I add back in a bit here and there, based on the day and how i’m coping. No news or social media is working for me. I’m fortunate to have a partner who will tell me what i need to know, and no more.
    This post was relatable and helpful, too. Thank you.Take good care, if you’re able.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey James, Have you ever tried yoga? Yoga helps with balancing energy and fights anxiety for at 24 hours, walking is really good as well. I definitely would limit the Covid-19 articles and news, as not much is going to change and it will only increase your anxiety. I would limit that context as much as you can. Do you use a diffuser at all? As having essential oils diffuse into your room such as; lavender, orange, bergamot… helps calm anxiety. I do have a blog on essential oils… these can be ordered online. Just to give you some suggestions that could possibly help! Writing is a positive strategy, colouring is really good for the mind and painting. I hope you are feeling better!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi James, I came across your blog recently and I think it’s great. Thank you for sharing your story. I recently started writing to cope with my depression and anxiety, so to read of someone who has survived so much is inspiring and reassuring.

    As for the C-word, its a crazy time for all of us. The uncertainty and changes were the most unsettling thing for me too, but I’m finding that its getting better with time. I’ve cut out my consumption of news and social media and its been much better. I’m using the time to connect with family and friends, supporting them as I know they’ll be struggling too, and just enjoying the time to recover and reflect that I wouldn’t usually with everyday life.

    All the best, I look forward to reading more from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The news can make you crazy. I only look at one site once a day and if it is too negative I stop. The news love bad new and want us to be anxious enough to keep watching. Instead I am trying to do constructive things like my knitting and crocheting and art. That seems to give me a feeling of progress and accomplishment. This post shows how far you have come. Keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi James, I just wanted to say thank you for telling your story. COVID-19 has had a similar effect on my mental health too and I think it’s great that you’re writing through the storm. In fact, I’ve decided to take a similar approach in my blogging. I hope you feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Mental Health Coping Strategies – The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog

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