Tag Archives: mental health

It’s Okay to Ask for Help.

New York is not really the slowest place in the world to live. I know this comes as no surprise to you, whether you live here or not.

The past few months have felt like the busiest months of my life–long hours at work as my department grows really quickly. Taking on more responsibility at Junior League. Training for a marathon. Writing this blog.

Yes, three out of those four things are things I don’t *have* to do, but they’re all rewarding enough, in their own ways, to keep doing them.

Yes, all of those things are also outlets for stress relief–especially the running. I have amazing friends and an amazing family as a support system, and I certainly know my problems could be much worse…

But I’ve been struggling with anxiety lately, and this week it finally hit its chest-tightening, heart-racing apex.

Monday night, I had an awful anxiety attack, and Tuesday morning I woke up and not even a run helped. I got to work and tried to calm down, and I told myself mentally to put things in perspective, and honestly, I believed myself.

But I couldn’t control the racing of my heart and mind and my chest tightened so much that I could barely breathe. I ZocDoc-ed an appointment with my primary care doctor and somehow managed to walk over. I like her a lot, and she’s usually great, but I ended up having to wait for half an hour to see her, which, you know, didn’t really help with the anxiety. The nurse took my blood pressure, and it was 150/90.

She came in and didn’t believe my blood pressure was really 150/90, so she took it again. It was still 140/something. We started talking, she handed me a prescription for Xanax, and I looked up at her and started sobbing. I’m generally not a crier at all–except for at weddings and sappy movies–so this was terribly out of character for me.

She stayed and talked to me for a few minutes, and assured me that many people go through this at some point, and it was okay–and that this, too, would pass. She told me to sit in her office for as long as I needed to and suggested I call a friend or family to be with me. I called one of my best friends and she met me at Duane Reade, where I was dropping off my prescription. I took one look at her, too, and burst into big, sloppy tears on her really cute shirt. She totally took over bugging the pharmacist for my prescription and talking to my parents for me, while I stood there, just a little numb (and this was before the Xanax.)

We walked back to my apartment, stopping at Energy Kitchen to grab me something to eat for lunch, and she made fun of me for still trying to get something healthy even in the middle of an anxiety attack…so I got their baked fries.

My parents came over, and we talked and talked and talked. Another good friend came over when she got out of work, and my little support group really helped. Honestly, it was nothing they said, but just having them there helped more than anything…except for maybe the Xanax.

The doctor recommended I take Wednesday off, too, and so I listened. I woke up feeling guilty that I was taking a sick day when I wasn’t physically sick, but then I remembered that the anxiety was actually manifesting itself physically. I treated the day like it was a sick day and, other than searching for a therapist, spent the day doing not much.

If you think you need a therapist, you’re right. I think everyone could benefit from talking to a therapist. Not all of what the therapist said was ground-breaking, but sometimes it’s just easier to hear it from an impartial professional. Many insurance companies include behavioral health benefits now, so therapy can generally be no more expensive than your copay–and so, so so worth it, since mental stress can lead to so many more physical problems. (Caitlin wrote a post a few months ago that got some great comments on therapy and finding a therapist.)

As I walked with the therapist from the reception desk back to her office–a walk that felt interminable–I wondered if I really needed to be there. I sat down and thought what I was about to say might come out sounding stupid…and then I realized that there’s nothing stupid about admitting you need a little help. I left her office feeling much calmer–and like I had the beginnings of an action plan to get my stress under control.

I’m telling you this because I believe that we need to remove the stigma associated with therapy and discussing mental health. It’s okay to feel this way sometimes. I’d rather not, obviously, but it doesn’t make me a bad person, or a damaged person, just someone who needs a little help right now. And one who’s getting it from wonderful family and friends and a lovely therapist.

And if you’re feeling this way, or if you’re struggling, and you need someone to talk to, please consider therapy–or even just dropping me an email if you need someone to listen to you.

The Busyness and Happiness Connection

My blog bud Janetha has started a Three Tips Thursday series, and she asked me to write her second installment of tips–go check it out! I wrote for her about happiness. I’m no expert on happiness–but when I lived in D.C., I knew more about unhappiness than I’d like to admit. There was no real reason for me to be unhappy, but I just felt a giant void in my life that I no longer feel. While I wish I had turned things around earlier, I’m just glad that I finally found my way.

As I mentioned on Janetha’s blog, a big part of my unhappiness was that I wasn’t doing things for myself–things that made me happy. I hung out with friends and hoped their happiness would rub off on me. It doesn’t really work that way. I stayed busy, but much of it was work-related and networking with lots of political people. I quickly realized politics wasn’t what I wanted to do, and became increasingly unhappy going to political events and pretending I cared.

Back then, I filled my life with random events so that I didn’t have time to face my unhappiness.

These days, I’m just as busy, if not busier, but it’s all (well, mostly) stuff I choose to do. I chose a job I knew would have long hours. I chose to join the New York Junior League and chair my committee. I chose to start this blog, and work hard at it to make something I’m proud of. I choose to run and train for races. None of these are minor time committments, but they make me happy, and I’m no longer keeping myself busy for fear of unhappiness.


I’ve also learned to say no. I don’t go to every blog event I’m invited to any more for fear of missing out. I’d much rather miss out and spend time with close friends (although many of my close friends are also blog friends), work out or just chill. (Wanting to take time to just chill is also a phenomenon I learned upon moving to NYC, ironically.)

But a comment on my blog from Nicole made me realize how much I’ve been putting on myself in the past few months:

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Since starting my new job four months ago, I have:

No wonder I’ve been feeling exhausted and having a hard time waking up to work out. This weekend I have two workout classes and a run planned, and THAT’S IT. And I am psyched.

Tonight, I was still feeling an allergy-induced death, so I made a very conscious decision to blow off my run. I felt in such a fog that I felt like I’d keel over if I tried to do anything faster than run.


I picked up a new Neti pot and some eye drops.



Warmed up some of my mom’s sauce and had it over some whole wheat pasta and am vegging on the couch watching 30 Rock and The Office. Just what I needed.

And that. That’s also what I needed. It really made my entire week.