Have I ever told you about my past struggle with anxiety?
I’ve always been a very even-keeled person. I tend to make decisions based off of logic and not off of my feelings and I’ve never been a very fearful person. However, a few years ago, starting around the time Brett and I got engaged in January of 2013, I started noticing that my heart would palpitate often. Heart palpitations run in my family so I figured they weren’t anything too serious and I would just have to deal with them on and off throughout the rest of my life. But as the weeks went on, they started to become more frequent and intense, mainly at night when I was trying to fall asleep.
It got to the point when, as soon as I would try to go to bed, I would start feeling short of breath and I felt like I had to focus to make my heart beat. Then as soon as I would start to drift off to sleep, my heart my skip beats and jolt me awake. It was so scary and soon enough, sleepless nights were a common occurrence. I tried sitting up, eating a snack, moving to the couch, basically everything to get my heart to calm down enough to let me fall asleep.
Because I’ve always had a chill personality, anxiety never crossed my mind as a cause for my heart issues. I even went to see a cardiologist who, after a series of tests, said that my heart looked great. Even after that reassurance, I experience a night when my breathing became so labored that I felt like I was about to have a heart attack. Brett rushed me to the emergency room and as we were driving, I felt like my arms were going numb. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. When we got to the ER, they quickly called my name. ER’s don’t make people with heart problems wait. But again, the results came back negative.
My heart looked great.
Having all those tests done and doctors say that my heart looked fine eventually helped my symptoms to subside, because I knew I could cross the possibility of having a heart attack off my list. I also finally realized that caffeine wasn’t helping me in the slightest, so I stopped drinking coffee which significantly helped my symptoms to subside.
To be honest, I still didn’t even consider anxiety as an option until after most of my symptoms subsided. Once some months had passed and I was feeling back to normal again, I began looking back on that season of life and realized that, while exciting and joyful as it was, it was still a very stressful season of my life. I had just committed to spending the rest of my life with one person. I had to plan a wedding in two months. Our marriage meant that I would eventually change jobs and move houses. All these things are major life events that can cause even the most even-keeled person to be stressed out.
At first, it was really hard for me to admit that anxiety could have cause all those health problems. I felt like only weak and emotional people dealt with anxiety. But now, I am so grateful to know that yes, even when my thoughts and feelings may not seem stressed or anxious, deep down inside I may be struggling with anxiety. Often for me, that anxiety manifests itself in physical ways, such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Now, if I feel those old symptoms resurfacing, I can try to figure out what in my life I’m stressed, anxious, or fearful about. Addressing the root of the issue instead of just the symptoms has helped so much! Now I feel like I can more easily voice my worries or concerns instead of stuffing them inside of me, causing me to experience physical symptoms.
I’m now even to the point where I can enjoy the occasional cup of coffee, although I rarely ever do. But even though it makes my heart go a little crazy, I still love the smell and taste of coffee. It makes me think of slow mornings, good conversation and the holidays when I’m sitting around a large table with family. Who wouldn’t want that!? Plus, when you add sweet dates and rich cocoa to coffee, you get one amazing drink; this Healthy Dairy Free Mocha Smoothie is a fun way to switch up your morning cup of joe. It’s sweet and chocolatey and full of fruit energy to get you going in the morning. Use decaf coffee if you, like me, can’t handle much caffeine or jazz it up by topping it off with some dairy-free mini chocolate chips or Homemade Coconut Milk Whipped Cream for a fun treat!
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk
- ⅓ cup strong coffee
- ¼ cup pitted dates, soaked for 15 minutes
- 1½ tablespoon cocoa powder*
- 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
- 4 large ice cubes
- Place all of the ingredients, including the soaked and drained dates, into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Top with optional mini chocolate chips or Homemade Coconut Milk Whipped Cream