Allow me to set the stage:
I’m 28 weeks pregnant, just creeping into my 3rd trimester. I’m at my regularly scheduled checkup with my OB. Adam is waiting in the room with me when, all of a sudden, I feel very uncomfortable. My belly has started to get a lot bigger than it’s been and the little lady growing inside me has recently invaded my lung space making it harder than normal to breathe. I mention to Adam that I’m feeling anxious as my feet dangle from the exam table. I lie back. That makes me feel worse. I sit back up. Still no relief. Suddenly, I feel like I’m going to throw up, my body breaks out into a cold sweat and Adam asks if I should try to make my way to the bathroom. I say yes and, with his help, begin to cross the hall.
Cut to black.
Now I’m on my hands and knees, in the middle of the office hallway. I see feet scurry by, stop, reverse and ask Adam if I’m ok. I don’t remember his response, but realize that there is now a nurse kneeling on either side of me. One opens up a small white vial and tells me to take a quick sniff. Instantly I come to as the smelling salts snap me out of my panic. As I look to my left, there’s my doctor.
“Hi,” I sheepishly say. “Well, I didn’t expect to see you on the floor,” is his reply.
Neither did I doc, neither did I.
This little scene was the first of several panic attacks that I experienced during the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy. Having never suffered with anxiety before, this was a scary and inexplicable event. My mind went from zero to sixty in a matter of moments and my body took the brunt of the mental storm.
If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety, I’m sure you know exactly what kind of acceleration I’m talking about. And, if you haven’t, then I hope you never do. As someone who loves yoga and warm baths and practically melts into a massage table, I can’t tell you just how frustrating a panic attack can be. For me, they come out of nowhere, with no rhyme or reason, and there is very little, practically speaking, you can do to make the anxious feelings subside. Talk about a terrible place for a control freak to find herself.
Feeling helpless and confused is exactly where I ended up each time I encountered an episode of panic over the last several weeks of my pregnancy. And, to make matters worse, I was in a near constant state of anticipating the next anxiety attack. It was truly a viscous cycle that could be ignited at the drop of a hat.
So, what was there to do? I will tell you that I tried nearly every common remedy suggested by family, friends and Google. I worked on deep, relaxing breathing, I put drops of lavender behind my ears, I prayed, I talked to my counselor, I focused my attention on my external surroundings, yet the internal sirens continued to sound when my mind had gotten worked up enough. I truly felt like anxiety and panic would plague me for the rest of my life.
Then, it dawned on me: there was no reason that I should feel anything other than grateful in my life. I couldn’t pinpoint the why and how of my anxiety, but I knew that it started while I was 7 months pregnant. That’s right. The only thing I could attribute my anxiety to was my pregnancy, and my pregnancy is the single biggest blessing my life has ever had. And that’s when it all clicked. How could I be anxious when I had so much for which to be grateful? Not only was I carrying a child, the most perfect reflection of God’s love for me as well as the love between Adam and I, but my pregnancy was text book perfection. My baby was healthy and thriving and I was just the same. It was this realization, the fact that I should be nothing but thankful, that allowed me to choose to pursue gratitude and lift up my worries to God, the only one who could truly handle them anyhow.
Now, this shift in perspective didn’t magically cure me. In fact, I had a few more episodes where I found myself on the brink of passing out. However, in those moments, I could actually see the big picture. I could submit to the fact that my body/mind connection was shorting out and realize that these moments would pass and I would come out on the other side continuing to be healthy and joyful for the blessing bestowed upon me.
So, if you suffer with anxiety, even on a small scale, I encourage you to evaluate the positive in your life. Take some time to recognize the things for which you should be grateful and focus on those in your moments of worry. Considering that this is Holy Week, I’d suggest exercising such a posture of gratitude without an anxious trigger. After all, who has time to sit around and wait for panic to strike? I know I don’t!
Nourish and Be Nourished::