My Little Panic Attack

I have been very fortunate to have only experienced three panic attacks in my lifetime thus far.  A panic attack is different from an anxiety attack and many confuse the two.

An anxiety attack results from something which is causing you anxiety, and you are aware of what is causing your heightened anxiety.  For example, driving during a blizzard on the highway and having a Mack Truck tailgating you while your parents back seat drive you; add in the fact you despise winter & highway driving .  You may have an axiety attack from all of the stressful stimuli.  You may find your heart racing, your palms sweating, your eyes tearing up, breathing quickly and a need to exit the situation.  

A panic attack is mysterious, and is an unexpected guest.  You could be having a grand old time with your friends and not consciously worried about anything and it hits you with no warning. 

The first time I realized I had experienced a panic attack was hours after it happened, I had no idea previously what had happened to me.  I was at a friend’s house for a dinner party and I was catching up with a friend who had just finished chemotherapy and radiation.  I was asking questions around how the cancer was discovered and we discussed the treatments she had undergone and the surgeries; I am not a queasy type of person when it comes to healthcare matters, but I will admit I was a bit shocked at the appearance of this friend.  I am not sure if the topic of discussion was something I was worried about personally as Cancer is one of the scariest words I know. 

I was fully engaged in our conversation and I wanted to know more and what the next steps were with her recovery.  Then suddenly I noticed myself becoming warm, like a hot flash, I was perspiring and my face was flushed and felt like it was on fire.  I loosened my scarf and kept chatting and then my vision started to go; I was seeing sparkles like before I develop a migraine.  I then excused myself from the table as I thought I was going to vomit.  I started to make my way towards the stairs, but I could no longer see anything besides sparkles and blurred shapes.  My friends noticed me teetering and began asking me if I was okay, I physically couldn’t speak or respond.  I was worried at this point as my heart was racing and I was sure in that moment I was having a heart attack.  My friend then yelled “Rachel sit down!!!” so I sat myself on the floor.  I was blind so right then and where I stood seemed like the best spot to sit down.  Then my hearing started to go and the voices asking me if I were okay became muffled & distorted like I was under water.  I wanted to say “call an ambulance”, but I couldn’t – I couldn’t speak at all.  I was sure I was dying.  My hands were tingling and I felt like an old tv being shut down when the picture shrinks into a pin dot and then nothing.  I was sure this was the end for me and I was scared, and there was no white light at the end of the tunnel just sheer darkness and panic.  I stayed there on the floor of my friends’ condo in the child’s pose for a good few minutes as I was too weak to get up and I heard someone say “she is burning up” and then I felt a cold wet cloth against my neck.  After ten to fifteen minutes, I began to return to myself, my vision came back, my hearing came back, my temperature returned to normal, and my heart was no longer racing.  I was embarrassed and I apologized as I had no idea what had happened.  I felt too well to have had a heart attack and I didn’t have chest pains.  The only way I could describe what happened was like all of my senses were shutting down.  I was sure I was dying and this was how a brain aneurysm felt or something.  I crawled to my friend’s couch and I laid down.  I was so weak still and I felt like I could sleep for a century as I was beyond exhausted.

I spoke to another friend later  who was well versed in psychology and he said I had just had a panic attack.  I didn’t believe him as I was perfectly fine; I wasn’t even going through an anxious time in my life; it didn’t make sense.  Yet, what I had experienced was indeed a panic attack which is a fight or flight physiological response where your body produces too much adrenaline and my mind and body I guess were not quite in sync. 

I still do not fully understand it, but I do know now what to expect if this happens again.  The two previous times I had panic attacks they were a lot milder and at the time I didn’t know what was going on then (I thought I needed protein or something or I was dehydrated).  

Your mind can make your body react in strange ways and if you are wondering what a panic attack feels like, I am sure there are variances, but what I experienced was a full blown panic attack.  You cannot predict when they may hit, all you can do is ride the wave and know it will pass after a few minutes, and it is just your body responding to what your mind is subconsciously telling it.  

Just remember most importantly to sit down, be comfy and try to relax as best as you can and it will pass.  

Peace & love – Rachel 

Living with Anxiety 

 I am writing this blog to describe my personal accounts with anxiety, as I have found reading about others’ struggles with anxiety/depression to be helpful and encouraging, as sometimes having anxiety or depression can feel isolating and like you’re the only one who is struggling to make your way to the other side (aka peace of mind). This blog is for those who have “come out of the closet” with their “common cold” mental health struggles fully knowing stigma rocks will continue to be hurled and many who read this won’t “get it” at all. I am hoping to pay it forward if you may and be a voice of encouragement. I am hoping someone will read what I have to share and know they are not alone in how they feel. I am not looking for sympathy or pity, but I am looking for some understanding from those who are blessed enough to not be able to relate to what I am saying; consider yourselves lucky. You can have a brilliant mind and suffer from anxiety; you can be well educated, you can be wealthier than Richie Rich, you can have mad skills, you can be a celebrity, you can be an athlete, you can be supremely beautiful and God’s gift to women or men; anxiety/depression does not discriminate. Depression lies and anxiety steals, but the grand old tag team will recruit anyone, and they can choose you at any point in your life. Today, I specifically want to talk about acute anxiety.      

 

From time to time, I suffer from acute anxiety and it is pure hell on earth. Normal for me, is just being anxious and worrying about everything possible in my life, but it is organized worry and I feel pretty okay just worrying about everything all the time. 


 Acute anxiety to me is intense, scrambled worries where they all blend in together, vibrating at a high frequency in my mind bouncing around like a pinball machine with a hundred balls and just as many traps; the thoughts are endless and seamless. 


 I have had anxiety since I was a toddler, but at the time I didn’t know it was called anxiety and it wasn’t as severe, and I didn’t know the obstacles it would cause me in my adult life. 

 

It is hard to put into words how acute anxiety feels, but let’s say if you were waiting for the results of a biopsy and you were called in shortly after having it done, you may assume it is bad news and your anxiety would be very high, in those moments in the waiting room, waiting for your name to be called to receive the news while being fearful it is bad news, and every cell in your body is full of fear and trepidation, THIS is how I feel, but all the time. 

 

Acute Anxiety is excruciatingly painful, and awesomely invisible. I can smile, I can act, and I can go to work and be productive; work is my greatest distractor from anxiety as it allows me to focus on something outside of my worries, but the feeling in the pit of my stomach that something awful is going to happen is still there. If I had to pinpoint one cause for the anxiety, I would not be able to say as sometimes it comes without any explanation or tangible reason. The anxiety comes as it pleases and it will haunt me 24/7 until it decides to leave. It can leave me as mysteriously as it attacks me. 

 

I can go to bed early, or I can go to bed late, but regardless of the time, it usually takes me two hours to fall asleep and it isn’t a deep slumber when I do sleep. If I am able to sleep for more than five hours, it is a good night. Sometimes, I lay in bed stressing about not being able to fall asleep and then I begin to become more anxious as I check each hour on the clock and calculate how many hours I have left to sleep before I have to wake up and go to work and pretend I am happy and “normal”. Acute anxiety impacts my appetite, where I lose my appetite (only good thing is I usually lose some weight), and even favorite foods don’t taste very good, as I am so worked up, it is to a point where I am eating for the sake of fueling my body, pleasure is absent from the occasion. Sometimes the anxiety becomes so great I have to run to a washroom to vomit, which is also a deterrent from eating at times. Feeling this level of intensity is not normal, but it is more common than you know and globally it is on the rise. 

 

It doesn’t matter how many hours I pray, or meditate although praying and meditation does help when I am able to hold the concentration to do so. I try to work out daily and break a sweat creating those happy endorphins, and this helps. I listen to relaxing music designed to reduce stress, and this helps too, sometimes it is the only way I can fall asleep at night. I try to talk it out, I talk to my fiancé about what my concerns are, and he is good at grounding me, but come the following day the anxiety can peak again. I just bought an exercise book which I am hopeful will help me obtain some cognitive behavioural skills to reduce my anxiety, I will let you know how it works.   

 

I am not having panic attacks, although I do know this does happen to others and I cannot imagine the fear and pain which would cause one to have such a panic attack. I just feel amped in a negative way, anticipating stepping on some sort of land mine or some sort of bomb being dropped on me. 

 

Presently, I am going through an acute anxiety episode which also prompted me to write about it as I am living it out now, I haven’t had this level of anxiety happen to me in years. I suspect it was triggered by my Dad being hospitalized two weeks ago, and seeing him in a delirious state as he was running a fever from an infection. I am extremely close to both of my parents who are elderly, and I am trying to face the reality that I won’t have them forever. I am not dealing very well with this impending change. There are life changing events which are in various stages of waiting too, and it will be like a domino effect once one happens as one will cause and affect another to happen. There are no timelines I can impact. I am a planner and a doer, and I like to move things along, and these circumstances are beyond my control, unless I want to pull out, but by pulling out, I won’t be living a life which will afford me more opportunities and joy, so I choose the discomfort. Lack of control and unknowns are something we all have to face, but for me it is beyond painful. 

 

I know logically I shouldn’t feel this way, I know logically this feeling of dread, fear, lack of control, and being amped to high alert will pass, but my body physically and my mind mentally still feel like something horrible is going to happen. I can tell myself “que sera sera” a million times, and no one is able to control everything in their lives, and everyone goes through times of uncertainty, but it doesn’t help. It is beyond frustrating to logically know that how I am feeling is utterly ridiculous, and why can’t I feel normal, why can’t I be normal? Why can’t I just be positive and grateful for all the blessings in life.  

Logic doesn’t care.  


If only…

Peace & love – Rachel 

 

   

Suffering from Social Media Anxiety?  You’re Not Alone…

Once upon a time Social Media did not exist.  These were days of simpler times, when people would sit on buses and read from books made out of paper, and listen to discmans, or have a conversation with a stranger. 


Above, photo of strange slim plastic cases hold shiny discs which I believe play music if placed in archaic contraption.  Rare machinery to stumble upon these days. 

We used cameras with film and printed pictures.  When we snapped photos of our friends or of ourselves we would take one or maybe two pictures in case one did not turn out.  We would wait with baited breath for a week for when our photos were ready to be picked up, having no idea what to expect and only showing these photos to our close friends and family.  We didn’t ask for feedback, we didn’t expect anyone to like or love our pictures, for they were simply taken in an effort to preserve a memorable moment.  We frankly didn’t care if anyone liked our photos as they were for us and us alone.


Camera above is actually a real antique (before my day if you can imagine)

The selfie!  A picture taken of yourself by yourself, sometimes also taken to include friends, enemies or a loved one.


Above is a classic selfie “no, I do not see the camera I am holding pointing at myself”… Ugh.  That was me though, trying to win approval…

Today  you can take a pic of yourself in a matter of moments and you can try over 300 times before you hit the right light, angle, moment, perfect smile, sparkle in the eye, and you look absolutely stunning and you look beautiful.  You have friends who will like and love ❤️ and hey, wait a moment!!!! Three likes are you kidding me?  Is that it?  You look at Jane Doe’s pic who looks like a lucky lottery troll doll and she has over 127 likes, what the heck man?  


Oh wow 😳 maybe people just don’t like me?  Do people find my posts annoying?  Maybe I look too artificial, maybe I should take this pic down and find a more natural pic to post?  


Hey man!  You don’t have to like me, but for goodness sake let’s support “Let’s Talk” and raise some money for Mental Health. 


Before the days of Social Media, life was more simple.  I have maybe ten to 15 close friends across the globe whom I would contact to have a good old fashioned chat with, yet I have a Facebook account with over 600 friends and I don’t need their validation.  

How many social media likes you receive does not determine your value!!!

Most of us know this, but some how it still bothers me when I post something I am excited about and no one likes it!  I am fully admitting, sometimes the lack of likes I receive hurts my feelings!  Despite logic superseding this false sense of lack of validation when you share and no one cares, it brings you down.  


Uh oh!  Do you see what I see above to the right 16 notifications! What could they be?  Maybe someone commented on one of my blogs, or maybe someone liked a recent status up date, or oh no 🙈 maybe someone said something nasty about a post of mine or disagreed with my opinion.  Should I check?  Oh God, I better check.  Phew…  It is all good stuff; just likes and kind comments.  My Social Media Anxiety was through the roof then!  (Shhhh, I still have not checked). 

You may be asking, well Rach, you really have a hate on for Social Media so why don’t you just delete your profile, and I have thought about doing this, but I then have FOMO!!!!  The struggle is real my friends.  

It isn’t all bad.  It can be a very good thing in moderation, and it has allowed me to discover a whole whack of relatives in California and even one far removed cousin in Australia!  It is just I have been using it for the wrong reasons at times and looking for attention or validation through Facebook and Instagram.  

We all know it is a means to display the  best moments in our lives and it isn’t a snap shot of reality. However, it is proven that 20 minutes spent going through your news feed leaves most of us feeling a bit more depressed with our lives.  You can call it “keeping up with the Jones syndrome” or Kardashians, take your pick! 

I see my friend Wilma Flintstone with Fred in Paris sipping on fine wine eating Camembert in front of the Opera House & why can’t I afford a vacation to Europe?  It is human nature & previous to social media I would only be seeing Wilma’s photos if I went to her house, but you see Wilma & I went to band camp together in grade seven and we actually don’t have much to do with each other in reality.  Ahem, in reality…


Sorry Wilma…

Peace & love – Rachel

Apologies Are Made By The Strong

John Wayne had it wrong when he said “Never apologize and never explain.  It’s a sign of weakness”.  Well, Mr. Gun Slinger you are incorrect as admitting you are wrong is incredibly difficult, and not for the fain at heart. 


When you are able to admit you were wrong in how you handled a situation, on how you reacted to someone else’s bad behavior or information you didn’t want to hear, it takes courage & strength. It is much easier to walk away in a huff with a screw you attitude.  

It takes strength and courage to approach someone and admit you were wrong.  Whether it was in response to someone else who may have been condescending & rude to you, or for admitting a genuine non deliberate mistake which had negative repercussions.  

Weak people will not apologize or admit they are wrong.  Weak people hold no self accountability for their errors or bad behavior.  Weak people will leave a macabre of carnage, hurt feelings, unresolved issues, and walk away with their head held high with an air of false confidence.  

But guess what non-apologizing peeps!?!  We know you’re wrong and when you don’t own up to your “bads” we kinda lose respect for you… 


Check your ego my friends.  The ego has caused me more drama than I can count.  Just let it go.  Whether in the work place or in your personal relationships, you will yield a lot more respect & kindness if you can admit you were wrong.  It doesn’t make you weak; it means your desire to be in a healthy environment is more important than being “right”.

Self accountability is important in building trust worthy relationships, whether in the work place or in our personal lives; it yields respect .  It allows us to win the trust of others by showing our transparency & approachability.  It shows our humanity.  There is no sense pretending to be right or ignoring some glaring error you have made because friends, colleagues or whomever know when you are wrong, so let go of the ego and admit it.  


Don’t ruin an apology with an excuse or blaming someone or something else.  It negates the beauty of admitting you’re wrong because you are saying you did or said something because of “blah”.  It is like when an evangelist apologizes to a congregation for a down fall & says BUT “the devil made me do it”.  Yucky! 

Own your mistakes.  You did whatever and you were wrong, end of story. 


Be sincere when you apologize.  It is glaringly obvious when someone is paying you lip service or doing damage control.  If you are genuinely not sorry then don’t.  It is better to say nothing.  Or wait until you have cooled down to approach the apology & you have thought about the situation & how your words or actions may have been damaging to another or others. 


Some wrongs done against us or the ones we love are hard to forgive.  I would even dare to say some acts done against others are near unforgivable.  However, when you hold onto hurt or anger they wound you.  If you can let go & forgive it is better for your mental health and your happiness.  

Apologizing is a good thing.  When done sincerely without excuse it shows self accountability, reaps respect, helps repair damaged relationships and builds trust.  It is often difficult to do, and not an action of the weak, but of the strong.  

Peace & love – Rachel

The New Rules for Posting on Social Media… For Me…


 Last night I was thinking about my old high school in Quebec, and some painful memories around a particular teacher came up, and how I was humiliated and spoken to by this teacher. I felt angry and the hurt feelings of when I was 13 or 14 years of age came bubbling up inside of me. I thought to myself I am going to call this wicked woman out and let the Facebook world know how she treated a shy shell of an anxious kid. 

I must have been looking for validation and that is why I posted what I did which others read and reacted to with shock, anger and sadness. Did I feel validated? A bit I guess, until a former classmate posted, “she passed away last year”. I immediately deleted the post and the various comments, as  I fully knew I was painting someone in a negative light, and I know some students found her sternness & say anything attitude to attribute to their present personal success.  My problem is I attributed it to a lack of confidence I have carried into my adulthood.


Despite how awful someone treated me, it doesn’t matter, I should not have called her out on social media. It was wrong and passive aggressive and seeing that she is no longer alive, unfair. It was negative and toxic energy I released onto the internet, and I shamed a name, whether deserving or not, it was not right. It was a mindless post in the heat of old wounded feelings coming to surface. It was a “post” which should have taken place in a confidential office with me on a couch discussing with a professional why this hurt little girl still feels so much as an adult.   

My post wasn’t kind, inspiring, educating nor funny. 

The new rules for me when posting on Social Media on a go forward basis will be based on answering at least one of the following questions with an enthusiastic Yes! : 

  1. Is your posting kind?
  2. your posting inspiring?
  3. Is your posting educating others in a positive way? 
  4. Is your posting funny? 

 The wise words our parents or guardians shared with us at a very young age will forever remain etched in our minds and hearts and ring true today, such as “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything”. 


 And the golden rule “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”. 

In addition to the above four key rules, I also want to be:

  • More mindful
  • More genuine

 I have tailored a lot of my blogs trying to capture a wider audience, mirroring others who I admire, and I don’t believe I have been as authentic in all I have shared. I had one blogger friend tell me, that I needed to add more photos, and no one wants to just read words, people want to have “stuff” to look at or they will become bored. There may be some truth to this, but most of the books or blogs which have captivated me are because of the “words”, the content, or the style of writing. I read these blogs or books at such a pace; I am gobbling up their creative content. I don’t follow blogs or read books because of the pictures, or memes (which I overshare at times in mine).


There is so much negativity and confusion in this world. It is best if we are true to ourselves while not harming anyone else. 

 

I want to inspire, I want to encourage, and I want to build others up. Last night I was overshadowed by some hurt from my past and I allowed those emotions to take me to a dark place. 


 Today on this Friday the 13th, I am turning a new leaf and I wish every single one of you peace and love. 

Rachel      

What is Your Diet Kryptonite?

My Achilles heel when it comes to dieting is baked goods.  Specifically homemade chewy chocolate chip cookies.  As an adolescent I didn’t care for chocolate, and I had more of a salty tooth and less of a sweet tooth, but now that I am older my body shivers for sugary treats. 


I mentioned previously in the first few weeks of joining Weight Watchers that I went through a major sugar detox and I felt physicially and emotionally like crap for three weeks.  I had sugar withdrawals with headaches and mood swings too!  Crazy!  Crazy I was!  


One of my favorite things to do when traveling is try out different foods and Germany has probably the best baked goods and sweeties known to man kind.  I partook in eating many a sweet!  


Similar to Italy and the hunt for the best Tiramisu, in Germany it was finding the best Apfel Streusel!  

Or Bienenstiche cake (bee sting cake)…


Or some Ritter Sport treat…


Or heck Bananas Foster which I don’t think is German, but those Germans know their sweets…


I also adore beer and during Oktoberfest you can have one liter beers, but don’t believe what they tell you… It is possible to obtain a hangover from German Beer!  


And beer goes great with a sausage in a bun! 


When I was in South Korea, I ate a lot of bread and a lot of fast food as I wasn’t a fan of Kimchi and I don’t enjoy seafood.  


Below is a picture of me and my niece Hannah at the Hello Kitty Cafe in Daejeon.  


Thank goodness for overpriced cookies in New York City!  I may have thought about purchasing these adorable chic cookies if it weren’t for the price.


I remember coming home from school and my Mom making me a hot cup of tea and putting out a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and it was so nice to unwind and tell her about my day. 


My parents never worried about me ruining my appetite as a kid.  I think I was so skinny back then they were trying to put some meat on my bones.  Le sigh… Those were the days… 

Below is a pic I posted proudly a few years back when I had taken advantage of Easter Candy sales!  I ate it all too! 


I am rambling though and we all have weaknesses.  If I have cookies in my cupboard or a container of baked goods I will think about those delicious cookies and how the cookie will bend in my mouth and the chocolate chips will melt in my mouth and damn!  I am glad I am cookieless right now or they would be in my belly!  My point is how I avoid eating a bucket of cookies is I don’t keep them in my place. 


I know you know, but it works.  If you don’t have the temptation around, you won’t indulge.  Brian, my fiancé whom I love and adore has been making a lot of cookies and he has brought some over to me and I accepted the first two offerings, but I declined his last offer.  


I had a cookie monster attack one night when I couldn’t stop thinking about those chocolate chip cookies he baked and instead of having one, I decided it was best to eat them all so I could start fresh the next day.  The lies we tell ourselves.  


If you have a spouse or partner, it is really important that they support you in your quest to lose weight.   It is tough stuff when your bestie is eating a delicious slice of cake or has a bowl of your favorite chips, and offers you some.  


It is bad enough with the food pushers in your office who try to pawn off their baked goods or over load of treats.  Especially since we can all use a treat during a stressful day in the office.  Resist the food pusher.


Resist.  It is hard, but worthwhile.  I can almost guarantee anyone who gives up refined sugar, you will lose weight guaranteed.  

Just say No! Or no thank you is more polite.  Food Pushers exist and we all know a few… My Mom is the worst; she will guilt trip me! 


I have lost a total of 15 pounds and some change now & I plan to lose more.  Every day is a battlefield of old delicious ways which taste good in the moment, but hurt you in the long run.  

Stay strong my friends! 

Peace & Love – Rachel