I think I’m having a heart attack.
Tears were streaking down my cheeks. My heart was skipping beats and my chest felt tight. My online search screamed: “Go to the hospital NOW! You’re having a heart attack!”
Scott, arrived home a few minutes after the alarming Google search results and I hit him with those words: “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
I’m 44 and in good shape. I lift heavy weights, do hot yoga, meditate, and drink green juice. I’m a cool and calm person. Nobody in my family has heart attacks. WTF?
Yet, in an instant, here I was the car and Scott was barreling down the five-lane San Diego freeway destined for the emergency room.
Arriving At The Hospital
When we arrived at the ER and uttered the words “heart attack,” I was immediately ushered into a ward with sterile pastel curtains and 45-degree angled beds. I slipped into a tie-in-the-back dressing gown even WalMart shoppers would be horrified to wear on a runway.
Cold, gluey patches hooked to a rainbow of cables were smacked down on my chest and a beeping line jumped into action on the monitor to my left.
Five monstrous vials of blood were drawn and a port was left in my arm. I was wheeled down a dark and creepy hall for x-rays.
Several long hours later the doc arrived and announced: “Sara, your work blood is perfect. Your EKG is perfect. Your x-ray is perfect. Have you been under stress or feeling anxious?”
Really, Doc? Stress? Please.
I’ve had plenty of stress in my life including raising my young siblings after my mom died of breast cancer, getting divorced (twice), starting and running a business, then battling cancer myself.
Not one of those situations sent me to the ER.
So home I went with a clean bill of health yet feeling pretty sheepish, like a girl-who-cried-wolf.
The next morning, however, it dawned on me.
What Was Really Going On?
I have, indeed, been in a tumble cycle of stress for several long months. When I thought about it, I realized that I was enveloped by fear and frenzy.
I had full-blown, debilitating Trump-induced anxiety.
I normally have a limited media diet. But for the past few months, I have allowed myself to be surrounded by high-drama, high-stakes media zingers shot like sharp arrows across a bow attacking me from all directions.
There were dozens of venomous Facebook posts and comments daily. Some of them from my friends and family who I wanted to love. I was instead feeling surprised and disgusted by revelations of their racist, misogynistic beliefs.
Cable news was ever-present on 60-inch screens in restaurants, bars, office lobbies, the grocery store, and in my own living room. It was streaming through my computer and ever-present iPhone.
I started reading the news app on my phone every morning instead of meditating. That set a nervous and jittery tone for the day. Many times I would also read it in bed in the evening, too. I can only imagine what that was doing to my sleep.
I had conversations and cried with my friends and family. We’re genuinely scared and alarmed because some of my loved ones are immigrants, gay, lesbian, beneficiaries of Obamacare and patients of Planned Parenthood. Many of us aren’t Christians either.
Scott and I would text each other the most preposterous stories of the day. We’d then talk about them ad nauseam while eating dinner, driving in the car, and soaking in the hot tub.
And on. And on. And on.
I was getting utterly whipped up and turning into an addicted of sorts who sought out more and more evidence that Trump is the worst man on earth.
I was torturing myself.
I let the angst surround me and it was now woven deeply into my heart, soul, and body.
Turning It Around
That is until my body said, “no more, sister.” It gave me the abrupt bitch slap that I needed to break my recently-developed, hyper-vigilant news craving.
After my Trump attack, I’ve unplugged from the news quite a bit. While I still intend to be vigilant and be represented, I cannot do my best work when I’m worn down and anxiety-ridden.
I’m consuming my news purposefully and with intention from reputable sources. All on my terms.
Rising about the noise and staying away from the mean trolls online (which has included unfriending some people on Facebook) is key to my strength and happiness.
I’m back to meditating and yoga. Drinking green juice. Laughing with my family. Focusing on what I can control.
I’m concentrating anew on how to be diligent and true to my values without allowing the gravity of today’s churning chaos machine to drag me into the abyss.
I’m grateful for that trip to the ER because it’s reminded me that I can draw bright lines around myself to keep the chaos churning at bay.
I can choose how much, when and how I take in my information. I can also choose to not tune in for a day (or a week) and that’s ok.
I am hopeful that the dark cloud of our current environment has many silver linings. This reminder of personal choice and responsibility is mine.
Chaotic times may have sent me to the ER with a rapid heartbeat, but they may have sent me inward to remember who I am.