Monday, March 7, 2016

Two books on my shelf, not for reading

I got a surprise package in the mail from my sister late last week: two books with a note.  The note reads:
Dear [Big beautiful sister], 
I'm passing along two books [our other sister] gave me when my anxiety got the better of me a few years ago. 
I'm not sure I actually read them -- but I did look at the cartoons in the "Dummies" book-- maybe it's enough to have them on your shelf and roll your eyes at the thought of having to read them.  That worked for me. 
I'm hoping you are passing them on to someone else soon (well; not that I wish ill on that next folk -- but you know what I mean).
[Helpful younger sister] 
To which I responded,
Dear [young helpful sister],
Thank you for the books, which I'm very much looking forward to not reading! The note was even better than the books, really, and everyone in the house has read and appreciated it!

(Actually, I did skim one of the books quickly, and read through some stories of people who kept going back to the same hospital, convinced of imminent death, and thought, "ooh, just like me!" Reassuring, in a twisted way).

I'm definitely feeling better, and am constantly thankful for modern pharmaceuticals. Also, grateful for my nose, which I practice breathing through, slowly.
All of which says a bit about what I've been doing with bits and pieces of my spare time, recently.  Well, that and math and helping the boys with homework.

Last fall, I had a bit of a similar panic when some of my lab tests came back and I mistakenly thought my kidneys were failing.  (In my defense, that's what every medical website I could find seemed to say).  My doc prescribed anti-anxiety meds that I didn't bother to take, since reassurance that my kidneys were actually just fine seemed to be all I needed.

Maybe it's because January was stressful for both professional and family reasons, or maybe biology and chemistry were just using my body for their own organic playground purposes, but February brought me a few more mind/body disagreements.

I'm incredibly grateful to our local hospital for not treating me like a nut when I had heart-attack symptoms (twice, I might add).  I had people seriously checking me out inside and out, and confirming that whatever was wrong with me, it wasn't lungs, heart, or arteries.  I got a surprisingly relaxing overnight stay in a solo hospital room.  (Plus, can I say, I totally nailed the stress test the next morning and feel sort of extra-studly about that.)

I also have yet another reason to be grateful that K-daughter came into my life; for a few years now, I've gotten to learn how to rational-talk her out of her own panic attacks, and all that practice helped me do the same talking to myself.  Plus, now she gets to have the "Now you see what it's like" conversation with me, which makes her feel powerful.

Heart burn medication and a bit of anti-anxiety meds, plus time and sisterly/daughterly commiseration seem to have done their job at silencing those alarms.

Not to mention, it's sort of nice to have these books on my shelf now, where I can breathe through my nose and then roll my eyes at the thought of having to read them.  Thanks, sis!


  1. I am glad you are doing better! How scary in many regards.

    That said, I might check one of those out from the library. I've resisted meds (I'm not that bad and don't have full blown panic attacks), but I worry far too much. I never even thought to look for a "for dummies" book about anxiety! I used a dummies book to study for my SAT and aced that, so perhaps this will work in a similar way.

  2. I don't know about those books but anti anxiety exercises did change my life for the better and shouldn't be treated with contempt. I do CBT breathing automatically now and it is a wonderful thing.

    1. Agreed. Actually, in my skim through the "Dummies" book (how I hate the premise behind that name!), one of the things I read was that psychotherapy/freudian analysis is a pointless waste of time and money, or worse, but cognitive behavior therapy has been proven to be worth its weight in gold, or in prozac, or the equivalent. And given how my own breathing/talking exercises help me, I believe it.