May 1 2017

To the Heroes Who Love Me When I Am Anxious

To the Heroes Who Love Me When I Am Anxious

Most of the time, I’m fine.

Or, more accurately, I’m “fine.” Most days, I function just like everyone else appears to function: I grocery shop, I play outside with my children, I laugh easily. I seem relaxed and comfortable and carefree. There is a soundtrack always playing in the background of my mind that is filled with worries and what-ifs, but on these days the music is low. Controlled. Almost muted.

And then there are days like the one last week. My husband was out of town, I was alone with the kids for several days and nights, and a few new-ish friends popped over for a couple hours to have some wine and watch a show. After a little while, I went upstairs to put my daughter to bed; and by the time I rejoined my company, I was drowning under the first crushing wave of a phobia-related panic attack. Continue reading

Jul 21 2016

Notes on a 24-Hour Heart Monitor

Notes on a 24-Hour Heart Monitor

For the past few months, I’ve been having kind of a tough time breathing. Sometimes it happens after climbing the stairs, sometimes it’s while I’m just standing around in the kitchen, sometimes it’s during a drive. Suddenly, I am acutely aware of how hard my heart is working: it pounds erratically inside my ribs, skipping beats, and every so often there are stabbing pains. Even when it appears that all is well — and sometimes when I’m not particularly exerting myself — I get dizzy and have a difficult time drawing a full breath. It feels like someone is sitting firmly on my chest, or like I’m only working with one lung instead of two.

I do not have asthma. I am not/never have been a smoker. But despite some genetic risk factors, I’m not very careful with myself sometimes. (Eek.) I consume Double Stuf Oreos literally every single day. I over-butter, over-cheese, and wayyyyy over-salt. Some might say I haven’t legitimately exercised since high school softball practice — unless you count lifting a twenty-five pound baby while sprinting after an energetic preschooler. (I mean, aren’t you supposed to count that? I totally have been.)

One night, several weeks ago, I ended up in the ER. They drew some blood, concluded I had “not yet” had a heart attack, and told me to follow up with a cardiologist. Because California has eleventy billion people in it, getting an appointment anywhere is not always easy — but a specialist finally set me up with Step One of testing: a 24-hour heart monitor. Continue reading

Oct 8 2015

Confessions of a Parent with Emetophobia

Confessions of a Parent with Emetophobia

It’s October, which means it’s almost Halloween, which means I’m allowed to tell you a horror story.

For most of you, this will not be a horror story at all. This will sound like a standard, Duh-You-Have-A-Toddler-What-Did-You-Expect? story, and if you have kids, no doubt you will have been there, done that. But I am a parent who has an irrational fear of throwing up, and I can only see this experience through that lens. Continue reading