Thumping in my chest.
Tingling in my hands.
Numbness down my left arm.
Pain beneath my left shoulder blade.
The certainty that I was facing my own imminent death.
These feelings overcame me suddenly as I was sitting at our kitchen table with my husband. I had a strange thumping sensation in my chest that I had never experienced before, and as the sensation spread so too did the ominous sense of impending death. With sweaty palms and ever-shortening and quickening breath, my rational mind began to collect data. I thought I must be having a heart attack. The more certain I became, the more afraid I was, and the more afraid I was, the worse the symptoms became. My awareness began to separate from my body until I was observing what was happening from a distance, as though I was standing well back within myself. I was watching all of this happen, but unable to do anything about it.
I was terrified.
My ever-rational and calm husband took one look at my flushed face and calmly told me that if I was having a heart attack, I would be ashen, and I was quite flushed.
I was having the most severe anxiety attack I had ever experienced. I had had a few before this, but relatively minor in comparison.
I spiralled inside of the terror for what seemed like an eternity, his calm assurances of my relative safety doing nothing to quiet the certainty of death that was screaming inside my own head. The strength of that certainty trumped any rationality he could offer.
It took me more than an hour to come out of this attack. It felt like a hundred years.
I was limp as a dishrag the next day, my body recovering from the system-wide disruption.
It was then that my mission to understand anxiety began in earnest. I had a background in psychology and had always been a diligent researcher of everything from simple Amazon purchases, to medical information, to complex social and existential questions. I already had strong research skills. Add in a lifetime of experience with mental health and a degree in psychology and this put me in the perfect position to dig into it.
Anxiety attacks had changed my life at a very young age. When I was nine years old, our family travelled from our home in Ontario, Canada to a small town in South Wales so my father could work on a project for the auto company he was working for. While there, my mom began having anxiety attacks. She was in her thirties. The doctors there, not understanding what they were seeing, began treating her for a heart condition. On a visit home, our primary care physician diagnosed her properly with anxiety attacks, and we moved very suddenly back to Canada in order for her to continue to receive proper treatment.
My maternal grandmother had always been an anxious sort as well. A wonderfully eccentric woman, she wore an armour of finery whenever she left her house. Hats, fur coats, and fine clothing allowed her to be the person she dreamed of being, and yet, she never directly addressed the crippling anxiety that would send her to bed for days at a time when life’s inevitable crises would hit.
This was not just me. In as much detail as I could gather, I needed to know why it was happening. I was not about to be a victim of my body’s vulnerabilities, and allow them to steal my life, my dreams, and put me on medication for the rest of my life.
This is a sample from my newly published book,’The Courage Key – Unlock Yourself from Anxiety and Take Back Control”. It’s available at a super reasonable price on in print and digital on Amazon. Buy yourself a copy, and help me get it into the hands of anyone you know that needs it. It’s not about me, this book is for all of the people who struggle daily with anxiety and just can’t seem to see a way out.
Over the coming weeks I will be exploring how this book came to be, and sharing with you everything that I learned along the way, and it being my first one, trust me there is A LOT.