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The Confusion and Anxiety of a Mixed Episode

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My heart feels as though it is racing. I can feel it in my chest and throat as I choke back nausea.

I look at my Apple Watch to find that my heart is beating at a slow 68 beats per minute. I am more distraught now than before. Now, something objective is telling me I’m “insane” and I feel hopeless.

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I am grateful that I am able to have this objective observer at my side, preventing me from wanting to pop medication or rushing to the emergency room in fear of my next heart attack.  I am grateful that such a simple device sheds light on the reality of a panic attack.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t relieve the symptoms as easily as it exposes their fraud. I now have to begin relying on all the strategies I have read about when I am not in an episode, and hope that they work.

I start with my gratitude list. I start describing my life as I would for someone that I admire.

I am managing a mental illness. I have two healthy children and an amazing and supportive wife. I whisper that I have financial stability, for the fear of mentioning that alone will make my life come crashing down on me. I have a strong, successful and growing business with a very complimentary partner who gets me. I have an incredible support system of family and friends.

I have a great sense of humor and have always landed on my feet.

The racing heart starts slowing (funny how I still write it that way). I should have said the perception of my racing heart is slowing down.

I am now able to step outside myself and become witness to my living beating heart, as if it’s sitting on a table. With everything I think and feel better, which aligns my version of my heart with the reality of my heart.

I have been in a mixed episode for close to three weeks. Last night I was at dinner with my wife, and looking around felt like everything was in slow motion.

Everyone was becoming a caricature of themselves and it all seemed absurd. I don’t know where I fit into this world. I’m safe — just confused — and desperate.

Tears start streaming as a release of the conflict I am struggling with inside. I don’t know why I’m crying, yet I can’t stop.

My phone rings. The tears temporarily stop and the confident, strong and humorous voice everyone has come to know… and expect… bellows from my fragile inside.

And so here goes another day…Happy Friday.

Getty Images: VictorHuang

Originally published: September 11, 2019
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