For months I’ve wrestled with spilling my guts to you all and talking about my recent journey with anxiety. My blog is primarily about home decor so a sensitive topic that deals with mental health doesn’t really fit. But on the other hand, my blog is also about my home and personal life. I finally decided that my own experience in coping with anxiety might help some of you dealing with the same struggle. So here I am today, to share a personal piece of my life with you.
To keep this post from becoming long-winded, I’ve decided to break out my journey into four parts – starting today and lasting through the next three Thursdays.
My journey with anxiety began last winter. It started with a seemingly ordinary yet nasty cold. But that was just round one.
The cold gripped me over a weekend in March and lasted for several days, causing me to miss a couple days of work.
One morning when I finally stopped sneezing and blowing and hacking, I headed into the bathroom to shower and get ready. While brushing my teeth I started feeling faint and weak in the knees. I thought the sensation was simply from having been sick for several days and sat down thinking it would pass. It didn’t.
Now mind you, I don’t like to call in sick to work – I love my job. But I couldn’t see myself sitting at my desk all day with my head spinning and my knees feeling like jello, so I took one more day off, sure that I’d be strong enough by the next day. I told myself I simply needed extra rest. I managed to work a few hours from home that day. I’d be ready to hit the grindstone tomorrow.
But the next day was worse. Whatever invaded my body was more than just a wicked, lingering cold.
That’s when the heat wave came crashing into my life. An internal body heat that felt like a raging furnace throughout my body – and I’m not talking about hormonal heat for those of you who know what hot flashes feel like. This was a furnace inside that lasted for hours on end – without sweat and without a fever. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, sometimes clinging relentlessly for over 24 hours straight.
Since these symptoms were new to me, I decided to call the doctor. He saw me that day, told me I had a bronchial infection and sent me home with antibiotics. I was so relieved knowing the medication would soon kick in and I’d be back on my feet in no time.
No such luck. I started feeling worse. I took a regular dose of Nyquil that night to help me sleep. It knocked me out and then some. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and the room started spinning. Just before falling to the floor I yelled “help me!” I passed out and the next thing I remember is hearing my husband frantically calling me to wake up while softly slapping my cheek. I couldn’t rouse myself.
Robert managed to hoist me up onto the bed and at that point I was able to tell him I was burning up. He got a cold cloth and laid it on my head, and told me I didn’t feel warm. I could see he looked frazzled and worried. He took my temperature but it was normal. The cold cloth made me feel a little better and I somehow managed to fall back asleep.
I woke up the next morning feeling foggy and exhausted. When I got out of bed I thought my knees were going to buckle. I called for Robert, still feeling the raging heat inside me. We both wondered if maybe something happened when I passed out. Maybe there was more to it than the Nyquil. Our friend had just suffered a TIA. My mother had several of them throughout her later years. Perhaps that’s what was going on with me. We went to the emergency room since it was a Sunday.
I was slightly dehydrated and the intravenous fluids the hospital staff gave me made me feel slightly stronger, but the heat lingered on. The medical personnel did their normal blood work and testing. My white blood cell count was high and I was told I had a strain of flu that doesn’t show up in normal flu tests. Other people had reported the same symptoms – the feeling of intense heat without a temperature. This particular flu was lasting around seven days. That meant I had a few more days to go. They sent me home although I wanted to stay there and have them take care of me until I was well.
I started sleeping downstairs on the couch with a fan on all night.
The next few days were touch and go. The heat would go away for a few hours, and then it would come back. At least I was getting spells of relief. It reminded me of childbirth – labor pains that come and go. I was able to start working from home as long as I could sit on the couch. Sometimes I could work through a spell of the internal heat, sometimes it would wipe out my energy and I’d have to lay down for a bit. Luckily, my employer was being extremely supportive through my ordeal.
I finally started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I went a full 24 hours without heat and weakness and thought, this is it! The flu virus is finally leaving my body. I was filled with joy and anxious to get back to a normal routine. But life sometimes has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball. The heat came back. For 36 straight hours. I was devastated.
Seven days came and went and I continued experiencing hours of relative normalcy followed by bouts of internal heat that lasted for hours. And each time the furnace turned back on, it stole a bit more of my energy and my will to fight. This pattern went on for a couple of weeks.
And this is where I’m going to end the first part of my journey in coping with anxiety. Little did I know, my dance with anxiety was just winding up. I feel like I need to spell out some of the details of the initiating illness because it has relevance further along in the story. Next Thursday I’ll share the worst part of coping with anxiety – the abyss. But please don’t worry about me; I’m at a good point now. I really just want to share how I got through it all in hopes it can help someone else.
And by all means, if you decide to follow this story and have any questions – please ask! This story, my journey with anxiety, is an open book. I’m not a psychologist or doctor, but I hope I can offer support and encouragement to others as a result of my experience.
More in this Series:
Coping with Anxiety: The Abyss – part two
Coping with Anxiety: Finding Treatment – part three
Coping with Anxiety: Moving Forward – part four