Red Alert, Shields Up!

USS Enterprise


Do you check your pulse?

I do.

All. The. Time.

Suffice it to say, I have health anxiety. Full out, freak out, stress out health anxiety.

I describe it as,

An irrational fear of illness and/or death due to the inability to logically explain certain physical sensations during a specific period of time whereby the anxiety and panic are relieved once the physical sensations(s) subside.

Case in point:

Today, I was sitting on the couch. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was enjoying a cup of tea. A picture postcard morning.

All of a sudden, out of no where, I felt like I was being smothered, I couldn’t take a deep breath and my stomach started hurting. Ah, the infamous stomach ache. How I despise thee. Commence the racing heart, sweating and thoughts of sheer terror and I had officially entered the domain of a psychiatric war zone. Having said that however, when it happens, you don’t know that it’s “all in your head” and that you aren’t actually in any “real” danger. You just think you are about to die and that your poor children will come home from school and see you lying in a pile of your own vomit on the bathroom floor with your pants pulled down to your ankles.


It’s pretty fucked up, eh?!

I raced to the washroom where I proceeded to do what one does in the washroom. But, what I am quite sure is the anomaly, I panicked. Over a stomach ache. A naturally occurring, quite necessary, physical action that all humans experience. Why, why, why?

The logical side of me will explain.

I am in a constant, heightened sense of reality. I am on the alert to recognize any physical sensation that is out of the “norm” or which I cannot logically explain. Once discovered, within a millisecond, I irrationally decide whether to ignore it or whether I should sound the alarm and proceed down the spiralling abyss into the psychiatric war zone.

Nine times out of ten I choose the spiralling abyss to hell.

It is so easy to sit here now, without a stomach ache, and logically explain what happens during an attack of this magnitude. While it is occurring however, there is no logic. The logical part of your brain shuts down and you enter a realm of disillusion, confusion and terror.

There could be no rational explanation for my stomach ache. It was something that was threatening my existence and as a result, I entered fight or flight mode. A logical outsider with the same experience would think, “Oh, I have to poo”.

Not me.

I think “Holy shit, something terrible is happening.  Red alert!  Shields up!  Set phasers to stun and ready photon torpedoes!


This is my life with a stomach ache.
With health anxiety.
With a raging hormonal imbalance.
With panic.

It’s not just stomach aches that can now set me in to a state of sheer panic. Any unexplained physical sensation can send me into the brink of instability and down the path of panic. It can be my racing heart, a hot flash, a pulled muscle or a urinary tract infection.

It has been about five months now since the switch was flipped and I jumped down this rabbit hole of anxiety. I have tried an SSRI (I had a bad reaction so I came off it), yoga, therapy and vitamins. I have not tried the bio-identical hormones yet as my family doctor is concerned there may be an increased risk given my strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. I think it might be time to try a different anti-depressant. I feel like I have exhausted the natural remedies and I just don’t want to feel like this all of the time. I want to be able to have a normal stomach ache. Like a normal person.

Yah, yah, I hate the word normal too. But I long to be normal.

So there you have it. My day in a nut shell. It went from calm and relaxing to intensely horrifying in the blink of an eye.

Damn you anxiety.

Damn you panic.

Damn you hormonal roller coaster.

Do you experience anything similar? Do you have health anxiety? Do you struggle with finding logic and rational thought during a panic attack? What tools do you use to help your anxiety and/or panic? Are you on an anti-depressant? Please share your story. Your experience, tips, tools and knowledge will help me and others.

Yours in panic,
The Flip

© The Flip of the Switch, March 2016.






It is all a Facade


Portrait of a beautiful woman

Look at me.

Really look at me.

What do you see?

You likely see a woman who is put together quite well.  Beautifully styled hair. Flattering make up. Conservative clothing;  perhaps leggings, a designer sweater, high boots and a favourite handbag.

You are probably thinking that I have it all. The house, the car, the wardrobe, the successful husband.

Well, I don’t.

I do not have it all.

It’s all a facade.

Created to trick you into thinking that I have it all.

It masks my internal despair.

For on the inside, I am in a state of emergency.  Always on red alert.  Wildly searching for my sanity.  Terrified that I am going to die or go insane.  Scared to be alone. Trapped in my mind.

Yes, when you see me, I look well put together.  I am a pillar of strength.  A woman who can take on anything, be anything.  A woman thought highly of in the community.  A woman that people can lean on, depend on, confide in.  A woman of unparalleled character.

And yet, I have lost myself.

On the outside, it is all a facade.


© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.



Just Breathe

Young athletic woman practicing yoga on a meadow at sunset, silhouette


If one more person tells me to just breathe, I am going to lose my fucking shit.

Just sayin’.

To anyone reading this who does not have an anxiety or panic disorder but knows someone who does, never…and I mean never, tell them to just breathe.

Do not tell them to just breathe.

Do not tell them to calm the fuck down.  

Do not tell them everything is going to be okay.

Because for them, everything is not fucking okay and it’s not going to be okay!

Just be there.  It may even be better you don’t talk at all.  They want to know they are safe.  They want to know you are there for them, that you give a shit. Let them talk. Don’t pretend like you have any idea what the fuck is going on in their heads, because you don’t.  Be compassionate.  But whatever you do, please do not tell them to just breathe.

Ahhh, glad I got that off my chest.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Which means I can resume my full blown panic attack.

‘Til next time.


© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.




Sad wife after divorce holding a wedding ring

To my voice.
To my pain.

Look me in the eye.
Glimpse upon my soul.
The struggle is irrefutable.

How can you dismiss it?

How can you blame me for the circumstances?

I don’t know how or why, but you do.
You said it; you put the blame on me without blinking an eye.
It was easy for you.  Too easy.

Perhaps it is your own insecurity bubbling to the surface or your inability to show compassion and loving kindness. Perhaps this scares you, because you do not know how to respond, how to show emotion, how to be supportive, how to be or feel anything.

When did you lose your feelings, the kismet, the love for me; for us?
When did your career become more important than family; marriage?

Why does everything have to be about you?
About your needs, your wants and your time?
What’s the plan, what’s the plan, you shout from the rooftops.

I am an inconvenience, a curveball that has been thrown into your rhythmic life.
Our marriage is an annoyance and frustration that no longer aligns with your interests. It cannot compete with your yearning for financial success and your drive to get to the top of the corporate ladder.

Competing interests, and I am losing; our marriage is losing.

We are standing at a crossroad, you and I.

It is time to make some decisions.  It is time to take responsibility.  It is time to admit our shortcomings, accept our roles in getting to this point and decide whether we are in this together.  We can be a united team or a defeated statistic.

Which path are you going to take?


© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.

Mondays, *%^#ing Mondays

I Hate Mondays placard with bokeh background

Mondays are the worst day of the week.

My weekends have a sort of normalcy to them, although I use that term loosely.

I am safe because people are home and around me.  Of course, that is logically a falsity. It does not guarantee my safety, it just gives me comfort and security knowing someone is with me.

Someone is there to call an ambulance if my panic turns out to be more than just panic; if my racing heart is more than just sinus tachycardia; if my stomach ache is more than just a stomach ache;  if my dizziness actually makes me pass out (even though that has never happened).

Monday is when my husband returns to the office, my children go to school, my friends and support network resume work responsibilities.

And I am left here alone.

Alone with my thoughts.

Alone with my what-ifs.

Alone with my catastrophic thinking.

Alone with my insecurities.

Alone with my panic.

Mind you, Mondays don’t always start off bad.  Today, did start off bad, but then it got a bit better, but then it got really bad.

I woke up around five o’clock this morning from a terrifying nightmare. Pulled myself together and went back to sleep.

I woke up again around eight o’clock and relaxed in my comfy bed thinking about what I might try to do today;  so full of intention. Perhaps I would try driving around the neighbourhood, secure in the knowledge that I am close to home if I need to feel safe (driving alone is currently a struggle for me). Maybe I will go to the local shop to pick up the items my daughter needs for her upcoming dance competition (false eyelashes, hair nets, make up).

Wishful thinking.

Just as I was starting to think this might be a good day, BAM! A rush of heat came over me, my heart started racing and I was so dizzy I was sure I was going to pass out. It continued, as it always does.  Wave after wave after wave of nausea, dizziness, searing heat, racing heart, anxious thoughts…something catastrophic was about to happen…sheer panic was gripping my every fibre.

Well, there went my plans for a good day.


I am alone with all of these physical sensations that logically, I know can sometimes be normal but unfortunately, I am not currently ruled by logical thought.

I am ruled by illogical, irrational, catastrophic, terrifying thought.

So here I sit.

Scared and anxious.  Beyond anxious.  I am in sheer panic.

In my attempt to distract myself, I am typing away and trying to hold myself together. What I really want to do is curl up into my bed and close my eyes;  shut out the world and just have a good cry.

That five second tool…yah, it’s not working all that well right now.

Mondays, *%#@’g Mondays.


© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.


The Disillusion of Compassion


How is it that we think we know someone, really know someone, but they turn out to be nothing you thought they were.

It is interesting that when one is going through a rough patch; a rocky road; a tumultuous time, that the people we think will support us, be there for us and comfort us are in fact, some of the biggest contributors to our stress.  They further perpetuate the feeling of instability and vulnerability.

I have someone in my life that fits this bill.

It makes me sad.  I am overwhelmed with grief.  It makes me feel physically ill.  I am disappointed.

This person increases my stress level, increases my anxiety, increases my panic and they make me angry.

Angry they just couldn’t be the person I thought they would be.  Disappointed they do not possess the character I thought they did.  Irate that they continue to put their head in the sand and pretend like nothing is wrong;  they are oblivious to my reality;  to their reality.

I am angry at myself for thinking they held such regal character;  for thinking they were compassionate, loving, caring, considerate and supportive.  How did I miss this?  Was it an illusion?  Did this person ever truly possess the character traits that I hold dearest to me?  That we value as a society?

I am truly fortunate to have a vast network of support.  My family and friends are everything to me.  They are always there; willing to help any way they can.  I am blessed.

But you.  You.  I am disappointed in you.  I expected you to be my pillar of strength.  My knight in shining armour.  My safety net.  My best friend.  You have let me down.  You are either a supporter or a stressor;  you cannot be both. And you.  You.  You are a stressor.  You have made your choice.

No matter what you do, whatever choices you make, I cannot control you.

Indeed, you are not the person I thought you were.  Thought you could be. Thought you would be. But there is nothing I can do about that.  I cannot change you.  I cannot mould you into something you are not.  You won’t change.  Even when I beg and cry for support.  Call out to you in an effort to lean on you; you are not there.

You are everywhere, yet nowhere.

The disillusion of compassion.

Compassion for oneself, compassion for others.

You do not possess compassion and I don’t know who I feel more sorry for;  me or you.

You.  I feel sorry for you.  For I am strong and I will fight my way through this.  I am important and I have goals to reach and dreams to catch.  But you.  What do you have?

Your relationships are in shambles.  Almost all of them.  You have family ties that are complicated, poisonous, bitter and full of heartache.  You care for no one, yet argue that you care for everyone.  You have tried to convince yourself for so long that you possess this illustrious character.  That you are a role model for others to emulate.

You are wrong.

Disillusion of self.

Disillusion of reality.

Yes, it is you I feel sorry for.

In the end, I will get through this.  I will prevail.

I live life with compassion, love, kindness and consideration.  I help others, try to ease any burden they are shouldering.  I care deeply about people’s happiness and well being, including my own.

I don’t need you.

I just need me.


© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.