This blog is very personal and raw for me. I am sharing some very intimate details of my illness and trauma.
I’m not sharing my experience to get anyone’s pity – or to make my situation look ‘special’ or ‘important.’ (yuck!) I’m sharing to help others.
It’s pretty hard to make myself so vulnerable, but I made a commitment to myself to stay true to myself throughout this; and to be honest, I have given up worrying about what others may think of me. That’s because I know what is important now.
If you haven’t already read Part One of my blog series you can read it here.
My diagnosis of SVT not only affected me on a physical level, but it absolutely crushed me on an emotional, mental and spiritual level.
My body took a massive hit, the anxiety was so physically debilitating that my nervous system went completely haywire, and my stress hormones spiralled out of control.
I lost A LOT of weight due to stress and the side effects of my heart medications; and anyone that knows me, knows that I couldn’t really afford to lose as much weight as I did.
And equally – anyone that knows me knows how much I love my food! But during the months of my illness, I could barely manage a few mouthfuls of food a day because anxiety had shut down my digestive system.
Long story short; I became very weak and ill.
This is a photo of me towards the end of my illness, showing how sick my poor body was – compared to almost 12 months later when I had begun to heal.
Anxiety wreaked havoc on my emotional and mental health – I was a mess.
Not gonna sugar coat it –
A big hot mess.
As I mentioned in my first blog, I experienced panic attacks and anxiety attacks for the first time in my life, and it was a very challenging time for me. EVEN as a psychology student.
I was afraid to leave my house in case I had an SVT attack and crashed my car.
I was afraid to be alone: especially alone with my boys in case I dropped dead in front of them and scarred them forever.
My brain was filled with all the worst-case scenarios I could conjure up.
It’s important to remember that this immense fear was the result of almost 9 months without a definitive diagnosis, so my amygdala (anxious brain) had had plenty of time to build all those nasty fearful pathways that had become automatic by then. Every bump or thump my heart made, triggered off the chemical and emotional responses that sent me into anxiety within a split second.
It started to spread into all areas of my life, and I was anxious 24/7. I couldn’t sleep, eat, laugh, pay attention to things, I was shaky & distant. It broke my heart to sit there watching my boys and hubby playing in our beautiful garden, with the sun shining and birds chirping and feel nothing.
Just this overwhelming sense of impending doom. Like I was going to lose it all.
It was like I was seeing my world in B & W.
I can’t put into words how difficult this was for me, how incredibly sad it made me.😢
I was so scared, it actually still brings me to tears when I remember how helpless and afraid I was.
I lost my father when I was 7 years old, and I remember all too well how much trauma and sadness it caused me and my family.
I desperately didn’t want my boys to experience that. I want to always be there for them, to protect them, love them, support them. And most of all I don’t want them to have big worries when they are so young.
I think this is probably a big part of why my fear was so intense.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Things were bad, and quickly becoming worse.
I ended up going to stay with my sister and my mother because I needed to be cared for, and I didn’t want my children to see me the way I was. I desperately wanted a definitive diagnosis and plan for treatment. But at the same time, it was becoming increasingly obvious to me that my state of anxiety – and what was happening to my poor body and mind was not entirely due to my heart.
My body, mind and spirit were broken. I was in a complete state of fear 24/7, scared of my own body, my own heart. I felt like it was this impostor, this ticking time bomb (no pun intended), and nothing anyone could do or say was bringing me out of this hell.
I felt like such a failure, and such a bad mother and wife. I hated myself for not ‘coping better’ with my illness after all my training to be a psychologist and was so ashamed about all of it.
I needed a lot of support during these few months, and I had to get comfortable with accepting help and being vulnerable. Which didn’t come easy for me.
I also had to stop wishing it all away, because I expelled a lot of energy doing that. If you read my journal, it is filled with desperate pleas for the universe to fix my heart and restore my peace. I made all sorts of promises in return for my health and happiness.🙈
In hindsight, all this fighting the discomfort of anxiety, only made things worse. My fear morphed into anxiety about having anxiety (which is a whole another topic of its own!).
Instead of hoping for some miraculous thing to happen where I would wake up one morning without SVT or anxiety, I realised that I needed to get some help; and at the same time, I needed to take responsibility for my own reactions.
No one else could save me, and no one else could do it for me. I had to do the work.
So that’s what I did…
- I found the right doctors, healers, medicines, mentors, therapists, and assembled my own little support team.
- I established a self-care practice, a spiritual practice – and returned to my yoga mat.
- I began juicing and healing my body with supplements and nourishing smoothies.
- I studied holistic nutrition from my bed.
- I released the guilt and shame I was holding onto and started showing myself some compassion.
- I started appreciating my amazing body; my amazing heart!!, for the incredible job it was doing to keep me going and continually working behind the scenes to heal and restore itself.
I began healing myself day by day.💙
It certainly wasn’t a linear process, sometimes it was two steps forward – one step back, but it was progress.
Bit by bit the colour started returning to my world, and the incredible joy flooded back in, like I was seeing my beautiful life as if for the first time.
THEN I began to see the gifts…