Please pick up, please pick up. I thought to myself as I dumped the bottle of water over my head to cool me down. Voicemail. Shit. My heart doubled in beats. I re-dialed. My best friend, the doctor, who always calms me down in these situations. Please pick up! Shit. I scanned the cars around me, all in stopped traffic, on a bridge. Who would see me if I pass out behind the wheel? Please pick-up. Shit. Voicemail. I looked at the temperature gauge, 95º, then cranked the AC to high as my leg quivers & heart rate escalated even more. I dialed again. This time, my husband, miles away, across an ocean for work. Please pick-up. I have to get to my kids, but I really don’t think I will be conscious much longer. Shit. Voicemail. Heart, legs, sweaty palms, woozy head. 0 miles an hour, on a bridge. Stuck with nowhere to go. I picked up my phone to call 9-1-1. Someone had to know where I was when I lost consciousness. Everything was going black.
Marimba. Finally. I’ve never been so glad to hear that damn ring tone.
“You okay?” My friend asked when I answered the call.
She proceeded to talk me off of my mental ledge just as the traffic eased up and the cars started to move again. She talked to me the rest of the way to pick up my kids from my sister in law’s house where they had stayed the night before. The rest of the day I continued to work myself up into such a panicked state, convinced something seriously medically wrong with me, so much so, that I couldn’t get behind the wheel of the car. I had to call a close neighbor friend to come get us.
A few days later, I was in my doctor’s office, telling her about the bridge episode, and all the smaller versions of it that had been happening since the time of my 40th birthday.
As I began explaining some of the mini episodes I had been having, I realized that a lot of it had to do with my mental state. Despite having a “live to the fullest” attitude, or at least having really good intentions of having a live life to the fullest attitude, I had been letting fear dominate my thoughts. Fears of dying or something tragic happening. Fear that I wasn’t being a good enough mom, living to my potential, making enough money, making the right decisions. I noticed that driving was when it happened most, which may or may not have been influenced by the fact that a high school friend of mine had been killed in a car accident a few months ago, leaving behind two daughters exactly the ages of my two. I was letting fear overcome me, worrying about what could potentially, maybe, might happen. Instead of living life to the fullest, I was fearing life to the fullest, which is definitely NOT how I want to live my life.
As the words were coming out of my mouth I knew that I was describing text book panic attacks, and of course, I started to cry, because I always find myself crying in front of the damn doctor. “I just need you to tell me I don’t have a brain aneurism” and then I need you to put that pen to paper and give me some meds. Okay, I didn’t really say that. Doctors don’t hand write prescriptions anymore.
Instead, she electronically prescribed some anti-anxiety medication for me (don’t judge me, Tom Cruise). I also decided to cut back on drinking wine (I know, CRAZY!) and on caffeine (I know, even CRAZIER!). Between taking care of my body and my mind, I feel like a new person. I don’t know what will happen next, but for this moment, for today, I feel much more capable of handling life, the good and the bad.
The other day I heard Michael J. Fox, who is one of my heroes (Family Ties is my all time favorite sitcom and my dad had Parkinson’s before he died of cancer), being interviewed on Ellen (another one of my heroes because she is friends with JT, can dance and was black in a past life like me), and he said, “If you think about the worst that can happen and it does, then you’ve lived it twice.” His positive outlook on life was absolutely life re-affirming. And yes, life happens to all of us but worrying about it will not make it better, and it will only cloud the moment I am in now.
Ironically, last week, I was asked by my friends at The Blog Frog to join a campaign for a nonprofit called LIFE Foundation, whose purpose is to spread awareness about the importance of having life insurance, a subject that in and of itself gives me anxiety. But after reading about the company, and taking a few deep cleansing breaths, I agreed to work on the campaign because I agree with their messaging.
So, in honor of Life Insurance Awareness Month, the LIFE Foundation is giving away great prizes for the best Life Happens moments. You can enter the contest any time before Friday, October 7th. Make sure to encourage your friends and family to vote for your story as the Life Happens moments with the most votes will win (voting ends Friday, October 14th). First place will receive an Apple iPad® , second place will receive a $350 Apple gift card and third place will receive a $150 Amazon gift card.
Life Happens. And while you can’t control the future, you can take steps to protect the good things in life. Take a look around The LIFE Foundation website and learn more about how life insurance can help safeguard a secure financial future for those you love.