Thursday, May 27, 2010

Which Came First, the Fear or the Flutter?

I believe a stressful first year of college along with genetics and the death of my beloved cousin was the catalyst in the beginning of my heart palpitations. I feared them and had a couple panic attacks after experiencing many in a row. So I believe my panic attacks started when I first got the dance in my heart. In fact, most of my panic attacks today still revolve around when anticipating or experiencing a bad round of PVCs. About 5 years a go, I was in the midst of the hardest year of my life--my first year teaching. Up until Christmas of that first year I was just trying to stay afloat. I got up early, taught seven year old children, pacified crazy parents, worked late, and came home only to crash on the couch. I dropped below 100 pounds that year. In the Spring of that year, I was driving to Target on the highway and thought I felt a couple flip flops. My heart started to race and I panicked. I started to hyperventilate and the only thing I could think of was to get off that highway as quickly as possible. As soon as I exited, my heart started to calm down, and I was able to complete my shopping trip taking side streets on the way home. Little did I know that that event would trigger one of my biggest anxieties that I deal with to date. Driving on the highway. I can get around okay for the most part and even a couple years a go, I thought I had it beat because I drove all the way to Austin from San Antonio by myself. But I got pregnant and for whatever reason toting a child and being responsible for her safety made me fear the highway again. I had a big panic attack last Summer while getting on the highway and I haven't been on it since.

So that leads me to the important question: Which came first, the panic or the heart flutters? It seems like if you look at my history, the heart flutters began while I was driving on the highway. Then the panic set in. But I can see it the other way around, too. The stress of driving that day 5 years a go caused the palpitations. And now I associate the highway with palpitations--the two linked with fear and loss of control.

I've come so far at accepting my heart palpitations. And overall I think I'm a highly functioning person. I don't let my fear of highway driving stop me from going out. In fact sometimes I think I even overcompensate by making sure I don't close myself off from the world like Paula Deen did. I'm pretty social and I definitely want my daughter to see me driving around and going places. Currently I'm on a new found quest to start driving on highways again. I'm looking into a trying out a highly recommended source--"The Original Driving Fear Program" at I'm also working on trying not to feel embarassed or ashamed that I'm not comfortable driving on highways. There are certain people in my life that I would still like to tell and have them offer me support.

Maybe one day I'll be that annoying girl cruising on the highway--windows opened, music blaring, singing loudly, and hair flying.