The B-Word

No… not *that* B-Word… let’s talk about BURNOUT.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours wearing a Holter Monitor around my neck. It’s been removed for about an hour, and my chest is covered in red welts where my skin reacted to the adhesive on the ECG pads. I look like I’ve just had an elicit romantic affair with an octopus. I’ve said before that the little negative voice in your head lies to you. It’s one thing to know that intellectually, but when I’m in Anxiety’s grip, there is no logic… only panic. In the last year and a half, I’ve had 3 ECGs, 1 stress test, and now one 24 Holter Monitor. So far, everything’s come back saying I have a happy, healthy heart, but anxiety tells another story.

I am only 35 years old.


Let’s take this back…

I used to think I was just a happy drunk. In my early 20s, I’d get pretty sloppy, especially at company events. Once I began my spiritual journey, I noticed that I only drank in excess when I was nervous… it was a crutch. (And in case by some long shot she reads this, I’d like to apologize to the Roulette manager at my company Christmas party in 2007 where I insisted on yelling “WHEEL. OF. FORTUNE. ” every single time she spun the game.) One Christmas party, I woke up with a sprained wrist… another, with a rash on my arm from the pineapple I’d been hugging all night. So many lost memories that had to be rebuilt by the people who laughed at me (notice that wasn’t “with me”.) I gave up the crutch, and found those situations pretty tricky… I arrived late… I left early… they were okay, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed them. I experienced mild social anxiety, but at that point it was far from clinical.

2012-2013 was the most whirlwind period of my life. Here’s a quick low down of how it all happened:

  • July 2012 – I fall in love with the man who would later become my husband
  • November 2012 – I get laid off from my job, and proposed to
  • December 2012 – I move to England
  • March 2013 – We elope in Vegas (Yep – 6 months after we met) to speed up our immigration process, but continue to plan our actual wedding in October
  • June/July 2013 – We move back to Canada, start a lengthy immigration process (that took nearly twice as long as it was meant to), I start working at a job that my intuition told me to avoid
  • October 2013 – The week of our wedding, a client I worked with intimately passed away.
  • October 2013-January 2014 – I start experiencing anxiety symptoms, but not knowing what they are, I’ve convinced myself that I have a heart condition and I’m dying. I eventually end up leaving the job, going on medical unemployment, and start seeing my doctor regularly, and start a couple of different therapies.
This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I barely made it out of bed.

This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I barely made it out of bed.

As of August 2014, I can go weeks without anxiety symptoms, but I’m not “cured”. My original diagnosis was something like Medical Anxiety (which I’m assuming is a fancy way of saying hypochondria, heh). Ultimately, when it kicks in, there is no convincing me that I’m not going to have a heart attack. It has made me overly aware of my body…. I’m so hyper sensitive to any pain or discomfort I feel, especially on the left side. I know EXACTLY when the caffeine kicks in when I have a latte – I can feel the rush, and my heart notices it too. I know what my regular resting heart rate is. These are things I never paid attention to before, but are a regular part of my life now.

I have a patient doctor who is fine with me pursuing natural alternatives and lifestyle changes as my treatment, instead of just whipping out her prescription pad. I tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but I didn’t find it to be a big help because there isn’t typically a cognitive process behind my anxiety. I’ll literally finish lunch and then feel the rush of hot and cold race down my skin… my heart will quicken, completely unprovoked. The only thing I’ve found helps in the moment is Holy Basil, and some long, deep breaths.

So why am I sharing this deeply vulnerable and ridiculously long blog post? I am a walking, talking billboard for what happens when you neglect self care and intuition. I’ve often joked that perhaps my divine purpose is to help others learn from my mistakes… but a lot of truth is said in jest. These last couple of years in my life have been both the most beautiful and the most painful. Imagine spending most of your honeymoon in bed… and not in the sexy way. Imagine being too overwhelmed by noise and other people’s energy that you can’t even leave the house. (Part of my therapy was actually making it as far as my backyard every day.) Imagine being so consumed by your own inner chaos that you can’t even emotionally show up for your new family… especially when one of your kids is going through puberty and lost his birth mom a couple of years before and really just NEEDS someone. I have so many beautiful memories (including our wedding) tainted by the anxiety I experienced during them. And it all came down to self care.

That brings us to Pampered Goddess…

…a company founded out of personal necessity. In many ways, PG is my saviour… because it forces me to show up. It reminds me that I have to walk the walk. And it arms me with so many tools to keep me from ever moving back into the darkness. When the anxiety slips in, I know I’m neglecting something. I shine the light in the darkness. I embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. I breathe. I meditate. I listen to angelic music that soothes my soul. I meditate some more – and when my head is too busy, I either chant, or I pull up a guided meditation on YouTube and use that as my anchor. I diffuse the most soothing essential oils (can I just take a moment to congratulate the Seryna of the past who came up with the Peaceful Mind blend?) and I use black tourmaline to ground me. I brew delicious teas, I take long baths. I take pause for gratitude, and in fact, keep a gratitude jar where I share little events that happen… it doesn’t matter how big or small, just that I celebrate it. And I created The Goddess Experience... A weekend dedicated to self-care… 3 days away from home, out in nature, to reconnect, to dial back into my heart, to remind me of who I really am… This weekend could have saved the Seryna from a couple of years ago… I wish I’d thought to create it then.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Self-care is preventative medicine. It’s like a daily vitamin for your soul. How to you honour yourself? What rituals do you have? If you haven’t started yet… you still have time. It’s never too late.

seryna signed