SETBACK IS NOT FAILURE

I’ve been off social media and blogging since mid June. I took a short break after I felt my mental health suffer from the constant negative news of COVID-19 and the re-emergence of a second wave of the virus where I live. Many things have happened during my sabbatical – some funny, some embarrassing and a few not so great. I’ll start at the beginning; the moment that prompted my temporary absence.


Reflection from 26/06/20 – prior to the second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.

For the last six months, I’ve been feeling happy and mentally healthy. I’ve worked on improving social connections, reducing social anxiety and negativity, and lessening the need for control. ‘Let It Go’ has become my new mantra. In fact, not long ago, I suggested to my doctor that perhaps I had reached the stages of maintenance or recovery. Yesterday, I had a humbling reminder that achieving good mental health is an ongoing journey and setbacks can happen. In actuality, setbacks are part of the recovery.

Late in the afternoon, seemingly out of nowhere, I started experiencing shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in my chest. It felt like an elephant had nestled down on my sternum. My immediate thought was ‘grab the puffer, it’s an asthma attack’. If I hadn’t panicked and had taken a moment to think, I would have concluded that a random asthma attack while playing a Nintendo game was improbable.

Frantic to alleviate the shortness of breath, I puffed Ventolin like it was going out of fashion. It did nothing but gave me the shakes and dizziness. You’d think being an ex-pharmacist, I’d be a tad more informed but no, gasping for air must have killed all rational brain cells. My husband suggested I sought medical attention and question possible COVID-19 infection.

I was promptly seen at the medical clinic with the doctor checking all of my vitals, including oxygen saturation. When asked what triggered the symptoms, I was at a loss. In the morning, my three-year-old son and I had watched trains past at the nearby train station, played at the local park and had babychinos.

At the time of the attack, we were playing Animal Crossing, making ‘money’ through the sale of harvested fruit. It’s a big loan, two and a half million ‘dollars’ to be exact, so there could be some causality. It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility.

The most likely trigger was the discussion I had with my husband, which had taken place an hour prior to the onset of symptoms. We were deciding whether or not it was in everyone’s best interest to travel almost seven hours to stay with the in-laws amidst the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. It was a mutual agreement to can the trip.

The doctor gave me two options; go to the emergency department for oxygen nebulisation and get checked for COVID-19, blood clots and asthma or stay in the clinic’s treatment room for observation after taking a Valium for a suspected panic attack. I countered with ‘I think I’ll just walk it off. Uh… or go home and rest.’ In the end, I reluctantly took the Valium and waited in the treatment room for the dizziness, pins and needles, tremors and chest tightness to dissipate.

As I sat on the treatment bed, several nurses came in and out of the room to gather medical supplies and asked why I was there. I felt embarrassed having to repeatedly admit that I had suffered a panic attack and as a result, hyperventilated. I also felt ashamed for occupying a treatment room and wasting the doctor’s time, who could have attended to patients with ‘real’ problems. Stupid, right?

Instead of accepting it for what it was – a panic attack, I let the experience colour my interpretation of my self-worth. I failed. Therefore, I am a failure. I allowed myself to believe that falsehood.

That internal dialogue of mine can be cruel and critical, making me proficient at self-sabotage. I’m quite the high-achiever in that regard. I have such a negative perception of myself that every time I am faced with challenges or a setback, I am quick to accept defeat.

Ironically, I am fast to point out to others the importance of being kind to yourself and owning and valuing your truth. It’s high time I heed my own advice.

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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Kathy - KN J Tales and Snippets

Creative writer and storytelling enthusiast, sharing snippets of my journey through life and parenting. Aiming to inspire, empower and ignite laughter with every word that I write.

18 thoughts on “SETBACK IS NOT FAILURE”

  1. What a scary experience. I can relate to the social media and news anxiety. I had to stop watching the news esp at the beginning of Covid because there was so much misinformation and just gossip.
    Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kathy, I think many writers/bloggers have had a long break, I slowed down myself. It’s very hard feeling relaxed when out doing things like shopping, much safer and therefore feeling free/relaxed at home. There is a sense of constriction elsewhere, adn so much strife and uncertainty. It’s so hard sometimes to take one’s own advice for our well being, we jump onto our negative feelings so much more. It’s good that you know when this is happening. You take care, and nuture yourself :>)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely hard to be creative when life is so stressful and uncertain. I agree with you about feeling constricted. It suffocating being confined at home for long periods of time. I’ve yet to touch any of my writing projects. It’s been too long.
      Hope you’re keeping safe and well 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Those moments when you can’t breathe or feel tight in the chest are so scary! Hugs and prayers, friend ❤ I totally relate to your sentiment that it is easier to tell other people to be gentle with themselves, but harder to practice personally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy,
    I, too, took time off from blogging -February or March through the end of May. I was too stressed and my health was suffering. I also have asthma and my inhaler is my best friend even with Advair and Xolair shots. You have to take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. Glad you don’t have Covid. Panic Attacks are scary though. Do you have a plan if you have another anxiety attack? I used to help clients come up with plans and then have them practice their plan two to three times a day so that when they needed to put it into play, they didn’t even have to think about it. Please be well, and glad you’re back! 🙂 Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mona, I’m sorry to hear that your health was suffering. I hope you and your loved ones haven’t been affected by covid. I hope your break has helped you as it has for me.
      As for panic attacks, I’ve only had a few of them since covid started. I don’t have a plan besides trying to breathe through it. The doctor has given me medicine in case it gets really bad. But for now, we are in stage 4 lockdown, so I won’t be out and about, which means no attacks – hopefully.
      Thanks for your comment and glad to be back, especially with everyone’s support.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We’re always our own worst critics, and often times our own enemy. There’s no such thing as failure when it comes to feelings. It’s perfectly understandable to throw the off switch once in a while when life gets to be too much… and these days? It’s quite necessary. Breathe deeply, center yourself and know we’re here if you need an ear.
    ❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are not alone, dear. I hope just writing about it was also cathartic. Even though we’ve never met, I know you to be one of the most selfless and caring persons that the world needs more of. Now, as you said, heed your own advice and look after and value yourself too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure if I deserve your generous assessment but thank you. Writing does help unleash all the thoughts occupying my mind and reading back on posts puts things in perspective. Life is chaotic and uncertain at the moment, but I have my family, relatively good health and can pay my bills. Something to be thankful for.

      Like

  7. Oooh… I hope you’re okay… hang in there. And I’ve been off social media for the last three days for very similar reasons. I’m thinking about who I really want to be friends with. I never wanted to be that guy who cuts people off because of politics, but times are so contentious and I’m having such a hard time dealing with everything right now that I might have to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s acceptable in this climate, especially if it means preserving your mental health and well-being. I feel better after taking some time off social media and news. I needed to give myself some breathing space and refocus my energy onto what matters most – family and myself.

      Do what is best for you and your loved ones Greg.

      Liked by 1 person

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