A lot of my anxiety is focused around my health. I am overweight and have been all my life. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not in good health, but for some reason in my head it means I have the high potential for heart problems. My anxiety tells me this frequently, most especially when I’m having pains…even though they can be (and have been) attributed to other issues. Even though I have been checked by a cardiologist, most recently with a stress test and echo-cardiogram.
My health anxiety does reach further out than my heart, but here’s the thing… Every time I turn on the television, there’s some commercial telling me to worry about my heart health. In February, it was women’s heart health month, and all I heard bombarding me every day was to listen to my heart. Go get my heart checked. If I’m nauseous or short of breath or dizzy or have pains in my jaw/back/arm/chest, go get my heart checked. Well, gee, thanks to my TMJ, gastritis, and my myofascial pain, I have all of those things, often. So every time I saw those commercials–multiple times a day–I felt anxious. I wanted to go get checked. Eventually, because I couldn’t get past the fear, I went and got my heart checked. I’m lucky that I found a nice cardiologist who seemed to take me seriously. He did an EKG (normal), checked my blood pressure (normal), listened to my chest (normal), then whisked me right into the echo and stress test with echo (normal). And with quiet reassurance, he sent me home. I’ve since asked my husband to change to this cardio because he was so nice.
So when the pains come–and they do–I tell myself that I’m okay. I tell myself I had my heart checked, I walked hard and heavy on the treadmill in front of the cardiologist without even a stitch in my side…I’m okay. And eventually, February came to an end and I didn’t have to see the advertisements every hour of every day that I had the television on (it’s almost always on…I like the noise in the house when I’m home alone).
Now we’re a couple of weeks into April and there’s a new campaign. Fucking A, why can’t they leave me alone? Now it’s women who are approaching or are in menopause who need to “pay attention to their heart.” And me? I’m forty-one and I suspect have been in peri-menopause for several years. So now I have to hear this every damn day, in my face, telling me there’s probably something going on in my heart because I’m approaching menopause. WHY. Why do they do this to me? I know I’ve been checked, I know I’m as okay as I can be at this time in my life, at this weight, as who I am. But those damn commercials trigger my anxiety every damn time.
When I had my panic attack, during my Prilosec fever, I stopped watching the news. I didn’t want to hear about all the bad things, even though they didn’t really trigger me. I just wanted to see dumb things on the television. It just felt like a good thing for me to do. I’m back to watching some news, mostly at lunch time, when my focus is more on taking care of the dog and my lunch…so it’s cursory watching. But there’s no way to turn off these damn commercials. If I could PAY to turn them off, I would. I understand they have a purpose, but it’s really wearing on me. I can turn it off–change the channel–when it comes on the television, but it’s too late by then.
I’m okay. I am okay.