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Overcoming - The Challenge

I would like to issue this challenge to a select 10 of us that would post on the subject of overcoming fear and anxiety. I am positive that you are out there. Actually, I think there may be a 100 of you out there. Fear is the enemy and being afraid is no way to live. Let's expose this phony by telling our stories of overcoming fear and paving the road to our good health. I am so angry at myself for allowing fear to control my life. No more. Here is my story.

Last night, after finding out through an Echo, that I had a perfectly normal heart, for some reason I began to have anxiety that they may have missed something in reading the Echo. My heart beats got louder and more out of rhythm. (Fear). I thought that I am questioning an instrument that has just diagnosed my heart as perfect. I reframed the loud, infrequent beats as my lovely grandaughter dancing to the beat of my heart sounds. She has this unbelievable way of canting her head and twirling when she dances to the ABC song. The more specific I got with the picture of her dancing, the more the heartbeats became controlled. I had won!!! You know something, I think I can do it again.

Fear will find your most vulnerable spot and peck away at it. Find an explanation that makes it lose all the power and control. It has no business interpreting what you know to be true. Your turn, I am all ears.
20 Responses
Avatar universal
More, more, lets hear more. Moving, inspirational heartful stories from real, "living" people. Oh, this is so good. Thank you, thank you.
124876 tn?1189755833
Well, I don't know how encouraging I can be but I have been dealing with anxiety since I was about 12....I started having palps at about 18 and I am now 32. Once they started...oh boy did the anxiety/panic kick in..so did the OCD..I was bound and determined to control something..that is where the OCD came in play. All of your stories are so similiar to mine...I don't like to be to far away from a hospital..I ALWAYS have my phone charged and right near me etc...all of what you said...is me! Well, I know people make resolutions every year, and usually break them by the next day, I really want to commit to beating this thing because I have a beautiful 3 year old, a wonderful husband and it is starting to affect my my relationships...anyway...I had my first therapist appt.last week and I go again tomorrow and she specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy and I just wanted to say that I am not there yet, but I am committed to getting there and this forum and especially this thread, has helped me very much! I look forward to reading all of your comments...I know that there are many of you on here who are very intelligent individuals so I know that your words are wise and trustworthy!  Thank you very much..I will keep you updated!
61536 tn?1340698163
Here's one of many overcoming fear stories for you.

I used to have panic attacks.  The nasty kind where you dissociate in a way, where it sounds like everything in the room is behind you and you're floating.  I'd get dizzy, shake, my heart would race and I was sure it was a heart condition.  I won't tell you the amount of debt I racked up running to the ER, convinced they missed something.

At the time I was in college, and as you might imagine this was SEVERELY interfering with my life as a student.  I was so worried that it was dragging on my grades, not to mention my social life.  Go out with friends?  But what if I got this arrhythmia and passed out or something?  It was NUTS!

I suffered with it, Ativan by my side, for a long time.  Ativan and sheer determination got the panic attacks from a 5x/day problem to maybe two a month or so.  Still, I lived in constant fear that something was wrong with me, specifically my heart or my head, and it was always there.

A series of small things happened to me that sparked an epiphany than changed my life completely.  * I was so afraid of dying that I wasn't living. *  I decided from then on that I was going to live instead of merely existing.  I realized that 1 year LIVING was worth 10 EXISTING.  If that makes sense.  And it set me free.  No more panic, no more Ativan, no more sitting in the house when I could be doing something better (well, except when it snows and there's not much TO do, lol).  This realization opened yet another door: I had control, not the anxiety.  Once we get to that point, in those moments where anxiety does start to pop up, we feel a LOT less helpless.  I know I do.

Love the story about your granddaughter.  My three year old loves to dance and sing the ABC song :)
Avatar universal
Yes, Yes! Nine to go. I have so much energy just reading your story. I am going to pronounce you as queen of the overcome. Just terrific stuff to be able to live, really live and not just go through the motions.Thank you.
Avatar universal

Very nice story Anacyde.  I am going to try to do the same.  I was just thinking this morning that I am so sick of living like this in fear.  I am going to try to change my way of thinking as well.  I do the fear thing to about going out "just in case" I get a bout of these god awful things and die or something.  It really is just stupid.  I was out last night "girls night out it was".  I was scared all day thinking that something would happen to my heart when we were out.  You know I was feeling kinda panicky but my heart didn't skip one beat while were were out.  Talk about ruining my life with worry huh!
Avatar universal
i started having anxiety attacks when i was 9, and you could say they played a very important role in my entire life, until recently.. I let the fear of anxiety, play the part that should usually be reserved for a parent.. I let it tell me if i could leave the house or not, if i could be home alone, if i could go outside and play, if i could do well in school, anxiety was my shadow.. Even though i didnt always see it, it was ALWAYS there. I learned to live with it, and never thought i could live without it.

Then, a year after highschool, my anxiety decided it wasnt happy being just a part of my life, it wanted to take over, and i let it... I was too scared to ever be home alone, and yet i would only venture within a few miles from my house. I had to be within 10 minutes of a hospital at all times. I was too scared to go back to college, i didnt even like WALKING, because i hated feeling that increase in heart rate, it would send me into a panic..i just KNEW i was going to die. I carried the phone with me EVERYWHERE, because i just KNEW one day, ide be on the verge of death and this phone would be my lifeline. i wouldnt even walk into the other room without the telephone in my hand.. I was so scared all the time, i couldnt eat, ide just get sick.. Then the svt started, and i had no life.. I was in and out of the emergency room every other day, i lost over 15 lbs (i barely weighed 90) in a month because i refused to eat.. I was literally, a walking talking manifestation of anxiety.. My doctor told me one day i was going to die, from my anxiety; That the mind was too powerful and i was slowly killing myself..I didnt believe him, i was convinced, my harmless heart condition was killing me. I KNEW he was wrong and they had missed something, there was no way i was doing this to myself.

My doc sent me to a cardiologist, and an EP, who together, got my SVT underconrol, so i could deal with the anxiety. After many failed attempts with ativan, and other sedatives, i finally realized how much of my life i had already lost, and if i didnt start trying to live, i might as well be dead. I didnt care if it was my heart, or if it was myself, at that point, i wanted the pain to stop, and i had two choices.. die, or live. Its really that simple.... Through living, i learned that it was myself! i was hurting myself, it wasnt my heart! but in a very different way than alot of people do.. Instead of mutilating my body, i was mutilating my mind, and the body cant live without the mind.

It took me almost two years, but i made it out alive.. I slowly but surely starting going to the gym, and becoming active.. I went back to school, and am now attending medical school..I can proudly say, i eat three meals a day, and i enjoy quiet time at home by myself.. I used to be a nationally ranked junior rider, and just recently bought my first horse since the age of 15. Im the happiest ive ever been in my entire life, and this is the first time in my life ive EVER been able to feel freedom from health related anxiety...
21064 tn?1309308733
I'm here, I'm here!! OK, here goes....

In 1998, when my oldest daughter graduated from high school, I decided to take a college course, first one ever.  I actually enrolled in the school in 1982, but always found an excuse (anxiety, fear, finances, age, etc) to avoid going. I decided to set aside the anxiety and take one day at a time.  I earned my Associate of Arts, but more importantly, had taken a HUGE step in overcoming the "what if" syndrome.  You name it, I worried about it, and for NOTHING!

Upon completion of my AA, I decided to continue my education.  The anxiety seems to be under fairly good control until, right smack in the middle of the first semester I hear, "I think it's time to get that valve fixed."  I paced, cried, bargained, considered contacting professors about dropping classes, etc. I considered quitting, but didn't know about the financial ramifications.  My doctor recommended I see a specialist at the CC for a 2nd opinion.  She said, "they do repairs best and that's where I'd want to be."  I was terrified, what would happen to me? what about my kids? what about school?  I made the appointment and was scheduled for a TEE (WHAT?...a tube down my throat, sedation, OH NO!)  I was beside myself with worry, about everything!! The test was done and the doctor said I was NOT a good surgical candidate!  Doing the dance!!  I worried for NOTHING and almost quit school for NOTHING...See the pattern here?  

Two years later, in the midst of working on my master's degree (education became sort of an addiction for me...lol), I get a call from my EP...I hear things like cardiomyopathy, a reduction in EF, antiarrythmics, hospitalization, more about the valve...here we go again.  So, quite naturally, I worried, cuz that's what I do...UGH!!  Fast forward, I was in the hospital 3 times in that year for cardiac related stuff, but stuck with my program and graduated on time.  Today, I no longer have the intense arrythmia problems, the valve is "quiet" and I have a PhD (lol...maybe) to look forward to.  

Anxiety can ruin your life!  The best advice I have is to try and learn to put anxiety in it's place (back burner) and keep walking forward.  All that worrying for nothing!  Best of all, I beat my demons and earned my college degree, for me.

I could tell lots of similar stories, but you get the idea!  I'm getting much better at worrying, but not letting it stop me : )

Great thread fjohn!

Avatar universal
Hi, everyone!  I had my first panic attack at age 12 but I have been an "anxious" person ever since I can remember - since around age 5 or 6.  I also come from a family full of fellow anxiety sufferers - some have agoraphobia, some have health anxiety like me so I always knew I wasn't alone.  It has been a hard road all this time - I'm now 34 and am married with 2 children.  I've also had palpitations ever since I was around 12 and my aunt who has anxiety as well told me it's no big deal so I never worried.  Well, my anxiety waxed and waned throughout my life.  For example, I was deathly afraid of elevators from age 8 to around 2002 when I just "got over it," amazingly.  Life was good until around 2004 when I relapsed majorly and it all started with having frequent heart palpitations.  So, I fixated on them and began to worry constantly about my heart.  I had numerous heart tests, wore holters, had a stress echo, etc.  I visited numerous doctors, cardiologists and psychiatrists.  I was in law school at the time, and nearly failed out of a top 10 school.  I spent up to 12 hours per day researching heart arrhythmia on the internet and could barely function or take care of my 2 1/2 year old child.  My relationship with my husband also suffered as he thought I was going insane and feared I would have to be committed.  He really tried to deal with me the best way he knew how but nothing could've helped at that point.

I have always relied on my faith, and I prayed to God to help me.  Thankfully, I found a wonderful therapy program that focused specifically on people with health anxiety.  It seemed like an answer to prayer even more so because this clinic was not 2 miles from my home!  I went through the program, which involved cognitive behavioral therapy and "exposure."  The exposure was so scary - I had to do things like eat sugar, drink coffee, eat chocolate, things I was afraid to do because they had once caused my heart to race and/or skip.  I am through the program now and am SO much better.  I graduated law school and have just landed my first job as an attorney!  I am working doing criminal law, which I wanted to do all along but never dreamed I'd be able to!  I also went through another pregnancy and have a gorgeous almost 5 year old and a 4 1/2 month old.  My relationship with my husband has been restored and is better than ever.

My strategy for dealing with my fears is to rely on God - I know that's not for everyone and I'm not preaching, but it has gotten me through.  I ask Him daily for help, and He is always there.  Like many people on this board, I just push through when I feel afraid.  I make myself do stuff that scares me - like getting on elevators.  Sometimes it is very hard.  Now, when I have a palp, it doesn't bother me if it's a "single."  Those runs of a couple of them, or when they start happening frequently still scare me, though not as much.  I was at the doctor's with my daughter on Monday.  Believe it or not, my 5 year old is showing signs of dealing with anxiety (it definitely runs in the family!).  The doctor gave me the nicest compliment - he said that he knows all my problems with anxiety and he is so proud that I have not let it stop me from having a family and career.  I guess he is right - I often feel like a "victim" of my anxiety but I really have not let it stop me from doing most anything I've ever wanted to do.  Hang in there, everyone.  It is hard and I struggle daily, but we can't let anxiety keep us from living!
Stacy
21064 tn?1309308733
Congrats on the new job!!!  I knew you could do it!!
Avatar universal
Thanks!  I am so happy - this job is just what I was looking for.  This thread is making me cry...everyone's stories are so great!  :)
171267 tn?1199870589
This thread/web site is so encouraging and it has really made me realise I am not alone. My story....I am 37 year old female, married with 2 beautiful children. I guess I have always been a little anxious from a young age but in 1997 my anxiety began to spiral out of control...in a space of 8 weeks my husband got diagnosed with a cancer tumour and had to go away for 6 weeks for treatment (they did not have the facilities in our home town). I could not go with him as I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy. The week he came home from treatment our daughter was born and with in a couple of days she was showing signs that things were not quite right. She was diagnosed with a rare chromosonal defect that effects her intellectually and physically. I then started to irrational thoughts about dying and not being there for her. I started to worry about what would happen to her if I died and my husbands cancer came back. Thousand of irrational thoughts like this that have taken over my life for the past 9 years. My anxiety developed into full blown panic attacks after 6 years of high anxiety levels....so bad that I have almost passed out on numerous times. I then started to get PVC's around the same time the panic attacks began and this really freaked me out. I had heard stories of people just dropping dead and thought that this is what would happen to me. I developed safety habits...yes the phone thing, being near hospitals etc. I completed a CBT course a few months and things have begun to get better. My thoughts are no longer as irrational and I have not had a full blown panic attack in a couple of months. The nights I have 30 - 40 pvs in a few hours still freak me as they come out of the blue only every few months...... but I am coping much better with the odd one or two pvc's a day.
Avatar universal
I am not a religious person, and in fact often in the past wrote off religous people as weak.  For many years I suffered from panic attacks, fearful obsessive thoughts centered on my heart and its wobbles and my life was a misery.  I love reading and history, and one day decided to read the bible purely for its historical information, but it has helped me enormously to find peace of mind by its sensible advice, an example is the quote 'is there a man among you who by anxious thought can add a foot to his height?'  All that energy I have wasted in the fruitless pursuit of worrysome thought.  I then decided to leave my worries to God and have faith that whatever happens,life or death, all is well and I am safe.   It works for me and i am again enjoying life and ignoring my heart's funky beats :o)
Avatar universal
I am trying to find out what is the common thread in this thread. What is it that enabled your overcoming of fear and anxiety and Live. Some of you used Faith, others disgust,
Avatar universal
Oops, I messed up. I just wanted to write that the word is HOPE. Anxiety and fear cannot coexist in the face of HOPE. I got a name for all of you, The Living Legents.

More, more, tell us more, tell us about LIfe.

61536 tn?1340698163
Been there!!!!  But I'm living proof you can overcome it.  The Heart Forum was hugely integral in helping me understand that it was my head and not my heart ;)
61536 tn?1340698163
collegegirl143: You're my hero :D  Seriously, you've overcome so much, and now you're in medical school!!  That's my next step too, as soon as my children are in school!

momto3: I'm currently finishing the last class of my college degree! Anxiety sort of motivated me.  I enrolled about a month after I was diagnosed with PPCM ;)

fearfactor: I also come from a family of anxiety sufferers (my mom is a hypochondriac to the worst degree I've ever even heard of, much less seen) so as they say I had no chance!  How wonderful to find such an awesome support group in your area.  Congrats on the job!

yoshi: You ARE inspiring!  That you are taking steps is a huge inspiration to others considering it.  CBT is the best therapeutic approach to overcoming anxiety.  The exposures fearfactor posted about are a part of CBT.  It's basically retraining your mind to not fear normal things.  I can relate to the phone thing.  Only in the past two years have I stopped being concerned with that, unless I'm traveling somewhere with my children - but that might be normal insanity level now ;)

Darwingirl: You've been through so much, your strength is incredible.  You definitely have the strength to beat anxiety - it's nothing compared to what you've already accomplished ;)

fjohn: The common thread here is desire to change, and finding the ability to do so.  Ultimately, strength comes from within, though we are inspired by that outside of us as well.  For some, faith, for others, the will to live.  And hope, one thing I have never lost is hope.  Funny thing though, even for those who lose it, hope can always be found once more.


Avatar universal
I started this thread thinking there are a few people, a few stories out there whose lives have been transformed from being afraid, from being anxious, to living and thriving. You have overwhelmed me and all of us with possibilities and not limitations. But more than that, you have given us the gift of hope and we can accept this gift anytime we want.
I wish I could meet with all of you. Maybe, I just did.
May God Bless Each and Everyone of You and for goodness sake, keep telling us of your Wonder!
Avatar universal
Thanks so much!...hehe, im excited for you about going to medical school as well!! Thats awesome, do you have any schools in mind??
21064 tn?1309308733
anacyde,
CONGRATULATIONS on earning your college degree!! And, despite that blasted anxiety!! And, with two young children!!  WOW!!  Now, it's time to start looking at those MCATS : )  You can do it!!  I'll cheer all of you on!!  

fjohn,
THANK YOU for generating such a great post!  It has been so therapeutic for me to reflect on my LONG history of anxiety, and to realize that the worrying was preventing me from living. I've dealt with anxiety since my late teen years, and still do, to some degree.  BUT, despite my anxiety, I'm taking safe risks and enjoying my life!  

There was a point in time where I was afraid to fly (imagine that). It wasn't until a serious situation prompted me to revisit my fears and book myself a ticket.  My dad was having major heart surgery and he was about 1000 miles away; driving wasn't an option for this trip.  I remember being at the airport still considering backing out.  But, I didn't...I worried about everything that goes along with flying, and then some!!  It took a little medication and some rational thinking, but I made the trip. Since then, I've traveled quite a bit by plane (not too far - that's my next goal, and it's a BIG one....lol).  But for my dad's surgery, I would have missed out on so much!!  Who would have thought my dad's open heart surgery would save his life, and mine : )

Thank you everyone for sharing such amazing "adventures!" This thead has been so uplifting and motivating!!!
Avatar universal
I just want to thank everyone out here for sharing such intimate details of their fears & lives.  I only started getting PVC's a month ago, although I have always been anxiety prone. this new "heart thing" scared the hell out of me.

after having my heart checked out and been told that it was perfectly fine, this forum gave me the info & knowledge to decide not to DOUBT the doctor or continue worrying about this ... LET GO of all the physical sensations that accompany anxiety & just LIVE. I am still a work in progress but thats okay!

there is so much hope out here, just knowing that I was not alone & you guys understood me has probably saved me YEARS of ruminating about my heart... SO I THANK YOU ALL.
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