Toronto Zoo, New Year’s Eve 2016

I had a relapse this week.  It was awful.  I had been riding high on Christmas, and my holiday, and New Year’s.  This is a time of year I always feel great.  The New Year always seems so full of promise and hope. I had a great weekend getaway, I was exercising more, and I even signed up for a French class.  I really felt like I was on the right path.

Then my husband went back to work, and I was on my own for a couple of days.  The excitement and activity of the holidays faded, and I was alone again in an empty house.  It triggered memories of my worst days last fall, and I started feeling awful.  The first day was okay, because I went out shopping.  By the second day, however, I could feel my anxiety rising,  I went jogging at the gym in the hopes it would go away, but I just felt like crying.  I did a full workout but I still felt the tears rising.  Came home and just burst into heaving sobs.  I called my husband and luckily he was already on his way home.  Once I got the cry out of my system and he came home, I felt better but completely drained and shaken by the experience.

What felt really frustrating was that nothing seemed to trigger it except being alone in the house.  And that’s just no good.  It was my holiday – I should have been relaxed and feeling great.  I don’t want to associate being alone with feeling sad and anxious.

The next day I had to go into work later in the morning, and I was alone again for a few hours.  I could feel myself hyperventilating in anticipation of the anxiety.  I knew I was starting to spiral into another attack, so I went to work a little bit early.  As soon as I was at work, I felt much better, to be among my friends and colleagues.  I had lots to do and catch up on after my holiday, and it distracted me almost completely.

Yesterday morning – same thing.  I started feeling anxious getting ready for work and ended up having a visual migraine.  Luckily this wasn’t the first time I’d had one, so I knew what to expect.  This was a confirmation for me that they are triggered by anxiety.  As soon as I got to work again, I felt great.  However, as it got close to quitting time, I could feel a tightness in my chest that wouldn’t go away.  I had a three-day weekend and I wasn’t sure how I would handle being away from the structure and routine.

My husband and I have made a date to go swimming every Friday night, so we went, even though my anxiety was high and I was feeling some unreality.   pushed myself to swim some laps and really get my heart rate up.  I still felt anxious.  This was only my second time in this pool so it felt unfamiliar.

Then, when we got home, about a half hour later, something amazing happened.  The tightness in my chest disappeared, and i felt calm, relaxed and happy.  Suddenly I wasn’t worried about my day alone.  I just felt tired and satisfied.  I slept like a baby last night and woke up feeling great, like I had over the holidays.  It’s 10 am now and I still feel really good.

I remembered what the psychiatrist said, about how being alone would trigger my anxiety, but that exercise would combat it.  And he was so right.  He said athletes don’t get anxiety.  It seems like I’ve found a magic bullet to help me fight the overwhelming feelings.  I was amazed at just how well it worked, and how quickly. I’ve always loved the water, and it’s perfect because it can be done any time of year.  It’s so comforting to know that I’ve got a strategy for warding off anxiety when I start to feel it rising.


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