anxious / anxiety
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat ... or even death!
It takes a lot to admit that I’m scared or fearful of something. In the past, I would have jokingly said:
“It takes a big man to admit to something, and I’m not a big man!“.
Today, I live in fear and trying to cope with the situation by looking at the small milestones that I achieve as my body and heart heal from my heart failure.
The constant fear of a setback, minor blip in my pulse, pressure somewhere in my chest (just for a split second), low energy … anything will trigger anxiety these days.
The anxiety brings on new symptoms that trigger high pulse, and then I fear something bad is happening. I guess it’s my personal version of Dante’s 9 Circles of Hell… perhaps not so morbid and scary, but still layers of fear and anxiety.
During those moments, my fears and anxieties have a knock-on effect on my wife and kids, as they suddenly see and fear that I will have a setback. We all live in fear!
Although I’m strong and improving, we are still in a mode where I’m fragile. A little cough and we freeze. It may sound silly, but given what we experienced in the recent weeks and months, we have come to the realization that we are not in control of our destiny. This is something we have to learn to accept in order to truly live.
Doctors, nurses, and physiotherapist are pleased with my progress, but mentally I’m still scared and constantly fearing the worse. It will take time to heal the mental scars that this experience has left behind. And I know I need to get counseling to repair and rebuild my mental state.
What am I so afraid of?
Let me share a few topics that keep me awake:
- Falling asleep and not waking up; lying for what feels hours thinking about my condition, and building up fear that prolongs my inability to sleep. In the past, I would fall asleep and enjoy these moments of quiet and peace. Now, I fear these moments of death (pun from Freddy Krueger) where my body “falls” into the dream world, and I wake up throughout the night for unknown reasons … probably anxiety. One night not so long ago I dreamt I couldn’t breathe properly and sure enough I woke up with heightened levels of anxiety that I was out of breath.
- Scaring my kids because their dad needs medical help; I always want my kids to see me as the strong person in the family, so they know I can protect them. It’s important I’m their hero. That is unfortunately not the case these days as I’m sitting fragile in the La-Z-Boy recliner getting help from their mother all day. I was really sad and upset when my youngest daughter witnessed us calling 911 one morning when I was feeling unwell. She was so scared and hid under a table.
- Hurting my wife; I want to be her rock and always try to help by taking my load of the chores. However, she carries a tremendous load these days and I fear that she is not sharing her struggles or concerns with me. She is bottling it up inside, and she needs support too – the support I cannot give her. Her strength has carried us all through, but who is there to carry her when she’s weak and exhausted?
- Missing out on my kids’ lives; what if I never get better? What if I’m getting weaker, and can no longer be part of my kids’ childhood? It pains me to think like that but it saddens me. I want to be there for all their big events, from scouts, sports, birthdays, graduations, weddings etc. I need to be there!
I have to admit this, but this is our new normal and we will have to find ways to deal with it. We have to look at the positive sides of life and not dwell in the darkness of uncertainty. To start with, I need to learn how to manage my anxiety levels, and my wonderful wife has bought some good books to help me.
It will get better, but it will take time and patience … and a lot of positive mental attitude as my wonderful secretary (in Ireland) always said to me.