This week was the perfect example of that. After finishing up two of the three appointments I had this week and getting a fabulous new hair cut, I was feeling pretty good with myself. I finally felt like I could take a deep breath and relax for a while. I thought a post about my day outside in garden and a picture of my hair would be fun, but then I ended up doing other stuff and fell asleep comfortably after a busy day.
The next day I went to physical therapy in the morning knowing that I would not have another appointment to go to for weeks, which makes me incredibly happy. I ran a few errands and was home by the early afternoon, so I decided to take a nap. A call from work woke me up about forty-five minutes later. I don't know if it was the sudden awaking, but I was not feeling right. My heart began beating extremely fast and I felt sick to my stomach. After feeling so relieved earlier in the day, I was having a panic attack (a typical pattern for me). I lay in bed, curled in a ball, holding on to my ice pack (cold always helps calm me) and finally called my husband. Luckily it was pretty late already and he was able to leave work and come home.
We ended up taking a walk later in the evening to work off some of the remaining nervous energy that I had built up, but I could not shake the unsteady feeling. I felt so vulnerable, like I could have another panic attack at any time. I was also feeling sorry for myself having to deal with the rheumatoid arthritis because I tend to have flare ups within a couple of days of a panic attack.
I thought about writing yesterday, but I knew it would just be a pity fest so I avoided my blog. But after reading through my usual list of blogs that I keep up with, I came upon a post by Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy about rewording the negative thoughts that go through his mind during the times of debilitating pain.
All day long, my mind remained calm while my body felt like it was on fire. It’s definitely being tested, though. Just when I felt like I had finally shed some of the unhelpful thoughts that I carried around for so many years, I find that they are once again beginning to reappear.
“This is going to last a lifetime?”
This thought is always good for a few seconds (or minutes) of intense anxiety. When I frame my situation in these terms, it seems so impossible to deal with. So today, I decided to rewrite this thought. I turned it into “Sure, this will last a lifetime – but I only need to get through this moment. I have done so before, and I will continue to do so.”
That last sentence just smacked me in the face. If I had not have been at work, I probably would have burst into tears reading his post. "That's me," I kept saying to myself. Not only because of the understanding of rheumatoid arthritis, but also how I feel when I get extremely anxious. In the midst of a panic attack I think things like will this last forever, can I live like this for the rest of my life, and how is one person supposed to deal with two debilitating problems.
So the next time I have a panic attack or a flare up I will remind myself that the panic/pain will end and I will start again tomorrow. Maybe I will be a little unsteady as I shake off the anxiety, but I have done it before and I can do it again.
Thank you again Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy. You reminded me how important positive thought is, especially during the hardest times.