Emergency...I think my heart is broken

Updated: Jan 18, 2019

Content Warning: This article discusses mental health and anxiety.


“Let me touch your heart” the British gentleman murmured gently whilst scooting towards my pulsating chest … an exasperated sigh escaped his pursed lips as I shyly recoiled. “I won’t hurt you” he promised, a look of concern sweeping over his dark features. I glanced at him from underneath my lashes promptly drowning in his concerned eyes which were pools of turquoise. This wasn’t the right place for a Bond fantasy. I’d do anything to be consumed… by the ocean… to escape his gaze, his hands, his mere presence. He expertly shifted my shirt to the side whilst I glanced down at my attire, embarrassed. I was apologetically bra-less…he definitely noticed but he preferred it that way as he hadn’t much time to remove clothing. I knew all too well that I wasn’t his first that day. He had assured me confidently that he had seen many women similar to me, in this exact same room.

This guy knew his way around a body. Most would lavish in this attention from a handsome man, but alas, this rendezvous wasn't set by candlelight but by the stark fluro lighting of the hospital. I was wearing pyjamas which consisted of bunnies bouncing gleefully amongst a pale blue that were once as blue as the doctor’s eyes but had since been washed many times over the years and faded in the harsh Queensland sun. I didn’t want to be here but a friend had urged me to call a house call doctor as I was having shooting chest pains.


A Google symptom check had concerned me. For if it wasn’t cancer, I was surely having a heart attack.


Doctor goals

Earlier on, the house call doctor and his assistant had briskly arrived shoving my books to the ground as if their mere existence was unfortunate. Shooing my cat away he proceeded to sit at my bookless table and ask me questions in an accusatory accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Blood Diamond’ meshed with Jake Da Muss in ‘Once were warriors.’ He then stood and demanded that I squeeze his hand.

I obeyed. “Is that all you have?” he barked angrily…I searched his face for a smirk, a hint of a smile…. nothing...so I squeezed a little harder.

This dude would’ve been of retirement age and granted I was no Ronnie Coleman but I didn’t want to hurt him. YET. He rolled his eyes, this time adding insult to injury by turning to his assistant and guffawing, “she’s weak as piss”. 😐

“Is that really all you have?” he snorted.

“No sir, I have a vase on the table in which I’m perfectly happy to use across your head if you continue to speak to me in such a manner” I primly informed him. A doctor or not, he was being an ASS.

The corner of his lips curled slightly upwards. He sat back down writing in his notebook. Call 000 now he demanded. You're short of breath and have chest pains. This could be 'sudden death'.


I gasped, unprepared and knowing damn well that I wouldn’t make that call. It was too much of a spectacle, to be rolled in via a stretcher. If I were to die I'd die in the safe confines of my living room, thanks. Crossing his arms, he glared at me defiantly. "I have other patients and you are holding me up" he scolded. I called 000 bashfully, regressing to a child and they sent over an ambulance. The paramedics arrived and were taken aback when they saw me all packed up, jacket over my bunny pyjamas shrugging meekly.


The lead paramedic sauntered over to my bench top. “Aspirin? You’re not 80” she giggled… "Dr Google?” I nodded ruefully, lowering my eyes to the ground. She looked at me again, her eyes softening as I explained my predicament with the previous doctor. I had already diagnosed myself. I had muscle pain from an over enthusiastic gym session but now with being overwhelmed and the words 'sudden death' being muttered I was in the throes of panic… “We acknowledge you’re an adult, we are not going to force you to go to ER.” “That’s great” I stated as I clutched my chest, as I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.


WELCOME TO ANXIETY



The curse of hauling around a burden but not being one. She understood me then and asked how long I had suffered from it. “Too long” I answered as I recalled playing hopscotch in kindergarten and having an anxiety attack. She asked my age and I whispered this {undisclosed number} as I may have lied to my surrounding neighbours (who were conveniently craning their necks from their doors staring) that I was twenty one. She clapped her eyes on me again, this time with sympathy. We found common ground as she had also just turned {undisclosed number}. With our bond of women in their {undisclosed number} age we bantered over work and parted ways .....



However I was still struggling. I ended up going to Emergency but on my own terms. Uber.


As I hyperventilated in the back seat, I became furious with anxiety. I consider myself of somewhat intelligence and yet, I couldn’t stop the physical symptoms…my heart beating a million miles an hour, struggling to breathe, hands going numb, the profuse sweat and yet this was ‘all in my head’ ....granted I had suffered debilitating anxiety all my life in which I hardly divulged due to stigma/judgement but in all honesty it sucks. I copped the ‘you look perfectly normal, get over it’ from people I did confide in. The good old ‘don’t stress, you’ll be fine’ (thank you I’m cured) … I always loved the amateur practicing psychologists ‘I observe that you’re self-deprecating and care too much about what others think, you should be like this and do this etc’ again, not helping! I am perfectly aware…if anything anxiety is being acutely aware.



I remember a 'friend' calling me stagnant as a teenager when I was unable to accompany her to every weekend debauchery that she had planned . That was the big fat red tick that proved that there was something wrong with me. It was my fault. Due to believing that untruth I wore a mask when out in public and did a bucket load of avoidance (and alcohol). I didn’t let anyone in as I felt I was brandishing a dirty little secret…a secret that would make me less valuable than any other human. People assumed that I was just a snob, when in reality I yearned for connection, for someone, anyone to get me. But the ‘what ifs’ and critical thinking were too powerful. I was trying to be someone that didn’t have anxiety, someone that wasn’t me!



I now know that ‘brave’ is taking the mask off and accepting yourself quirks and all. And instead of getting offended when people are quick to judge, letting it slide and understanding that not everyone is knowledgeable to certain struggles. Men can’t understand the pain of giving birth (yet) and women can’t understand being blind to dirty dishes (kidding men...the towels too). It’s impossible to understand anxiety unless you have had the awful experience of it. I can’t cure this but I can use the appropriate tools to keep it under control.


Self-care.

Self-love

Acceptance

Patience



Shame and guilt contribute a lot with anxiety so it is important to realise that all the above is a requirement not an indulgence. It's the same as eating healthy and exercising. Fit in your version of self care daily. I neglected the above and ended up in ER with electrodes attached to my body convinced that I was dying. So this is also serving as a reminder, for myself to take care of me first and foremost.



Back in the days people ‘loving themselves’ … was an insult…these days ‘self-love’ is fashion forward. The astonishing amount of people suffering is too much to ignore. I am ecstatic that speaking of mental health is more ‘acceptable’ nowadays. It sure as hell doesn’t discriminate. We watch cashed up celebrities in envy and then utter "Geez, they had everything, why would they kill themselves?” …. It’s because material possessions mean zilch. The most precious thing you have is your health, your relationships and state of mind. Money does not change that and the scrutiny that you’re under when you achieve elite status would be hard on some creatives. The mind is a wonderful servant but terrible master ... I find that worrying about what ‘might happen’ or ‘what has happened’ are repeated scenarios. I try to dissect my thoughts as a scientist would, rationally as I'm an emotional person deep down (with resting bitch face #irony) but these tools are needed for rational thinking. Does 'said problem' have evidence? Do people hate you for missing their birthday party and want to burn you at a stake? Were you the main talk of the night?

Unlikely.



Thankfully we are not short of support outlets. I have dropped some links below. I know from personal experience that its difficult to seek help but it's also imperative to understand that there are many in this battle.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men – will experience anxiety.

I want to end this with the word – Empathy. You may not understand why someone has a different outlook than you…acknowledge that even though you haven’t personally gone through their experience that it doesn't mean that it's not relevant or a big fucking deal. If your mate has confided in you with their struggles understand that listening (without judgement or solving) can make a difference. They trust you, don’t be a cunt and be kind x


https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites

https://bcapcare.com.au/

If you or someone else needs support in a crisis situation please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the police on 000 for emergency support.


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