Coping with Anxiety

Worrying is a normal part of life and can even be helpful. If worry becomes a nagging anxiety, you need to formulate copping strategies. 

Something happened after I experienced mechanical breathing. The only way I can put it into words is a “switch” was turned on. Anxiety was heightened to the point of complete fear and overwhelming concern that I would soon return to the ventilator.

I understand that fear and anxiety are natural part of life. I had experienced anxiousness before the birth of my children. This kind of anxiety was useful - it made me more alert and cautious. It ended soon after I knew my newborns were healthy.

The anxiety I experienced after the vent did not go away! It worsened over time. It was occupied by chest pains and nightmares. There even came a time when I was afraid to leave home. I was noise and light sensitive. I wanted nothing to do with large crowds. I later discovered that my increase in anxiety had a direct link to my time on mechanical breathing. I had suffered from psychological factors associated with the “weaning process”.

Once I made this discovery (after asking questions and being very honest with my physician), I was able to seek the medical help I needed. Once I fully understood the “root cause” of my anxiety, there was no more shame attached to this paralyzing emotion. Here are the steps I took to regain my quality of life:

  • I defined the issue.  The ventilator had “triggered” my anxiety.
  • I sought treatment from a professional.  There are many forms of treatment for anxiety but it is extremely important to seek the support of a medical professional.
  • I learned coping mechanisms.  Learning how to take a few deep breaths was a necessity for me to overcome my anxiety. Removing myself from very stimulating situations proved to be a useful coping mechanism for me.

The ventilator, my temporary “umbilical cord”, designed to provide the most basic need of life, enslaved me with uncertainty. I experienced the crushing perception of being a burden. Unable to communicate brought the agony of seclusion. Yet, if I had to face it again, would I consent? Yes, of course! It was after all my breath of life.

 Leslie

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