anxiety, food, and being unconscious

Here it goes, I’m finally writing it all down. Here’s my only real health issue, one that weaseled its way into my life further than I wanted. I am more than thankful that I am otherwise completely happy, healthy and safe. My home has an abundance of food, and I have had the freedom and access to vegetarian food for 14+ years. Being vegetarian or vegan is a wonderful decision, but only those with access to healthy alternatives can make this decision safely, and I’m incredibly thankful that I can choose that lifestyle. I am also very thankful to the powers that be, that my family and friends are all relatively healthy with no terminal illnesses. From here, I continue.

I have a rough history of fainting. If you’ve never fainted it feels like when you wake up from a deep sleep and don’t know what in the world is happening, how long you were asleep, what day it is, where you are. It’s a very strange feeling. The first time I ever fainted was in the first grade sitting in class. No, I wasn’t outside playing in the heat, I wasn’t doing something stupid like trying not to breathe. I just fell from my seat in the middle of a lesson. I peed my pants from the lack of  control I was experiencing. Of course, I woke up and didn’t know what was happening – but I was rushed to the nurse’s office where they called my mom and she picked me up.

My mom later explained to me that she also had a past of fainting easily, but it was normally triggered by something like a nerve being hit or a hard blow to her body. We brushed the situation off and continued our lives. I’m sure my mom was worried, but I wasn’t injured and was functioning well. The next time this happened was in fourth grade, twice within one month. I was sitting at the lunch tables outside both times. I still remember the people I sat with and their vow that if it ever happened to me again they would catch me before I hit the concrete below. They didn’t, because the second time it happened they thought I was joking about feeling light-headed.

The issue with these incidents were that my new private school had a nurse, but I’m not sure about their protocol in these situations, they seemed confused and not sure who to call or what to do. It made me more nervous because the adults I trusted didn’t know any better than I. This fainting episode also happened in fifth grade while at a friend’s house “mixing perfumes” that were ridiculously strong. I felt like an old housewife fainting at the sight of blood – I felt weak and stupid.

These incidents then occurred in high school, both my freshman and sophomore years. Freshman year I was also just sitting in class, no harm no foul, but I was then gurney-ed  to the hospital in an ambulance. Thank goodness that this (again) new public school knew what to do and called an ambulance and EMTs to come take care of me and take my vitals. They saw that my blood pressure was incredibly low, and I spent the rest of the day in the hospital trying to find out what was wrong, but to no avail. The same situation played out sophomore year, but this time I was standing up, and I hit my head on a door opening. I went to the hospital again, to make sure I didn’t have a concussion. The principal of my school called my home phone both times at dinner time to be sure that I was healthy and safe. That really meant a lot to my family and I.

Since then, my mother has taken me to a cardiologist and my regular physician, amongst the other times when I was younger. Now, they just told me to keep an eye on my blood pressure, constantly eat little snacks, put extra salt on my food if I can, and drink Gatorade or SmartWater to keep up on the electrolytes. This really threw me for a loop for some reason.

Ever since then, if I feel weird or lightheaded or nauseous for any reason, I immediately think I’m going to pass out. Then I get an anxiety attack, and normally its pretty bad. This helped me identify my anxiety issues, but also was a huge pain in the ass for a while as I ended up monitoring my food consumption too much and if I hadn’t eaten in a while, an anxiety attack would ensue. I just felt like I had no control over my body or how I felt.

Thus, this weird marriage between food, anxiety and fainting has haunted me. I guess it’s been a rough journey, but I finally have come to reasonable terms with myself and my anxiety. Now I can tell the difference between puking, fainting and being anxious.

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