More often than not, being in a certain profession, means having difficultly separating your work from your personal life as people come up to you for advice on certain matters. I am no stranger to this as I work as a social worker. The moment people know what I do, they tend to ask me for advice on many different situations, mostly involving their relatives, friends and neighbors. At times, these frequent questions can get quite bothersome but often I just consider it as part of my job. Most of the time, I encounter people who doesn’t know where to go to regarding mental health services and on how to get access on the services. For them, I am the best person to turn to regarding the matter.
In my faith community, most of the members are already aware of my line of work and this became really handy during an unexpected incident in our church function. It was while we were all gathered up for a potluck on a sunday evening when I noticed a parish member sitting by herself. I remember talking to her during other functions in which she shared that she often experienced problems with anxiety. Her skin was flushed and was having difficulty regulating her breathing. These were early symptoms of an anxiety attack. In time, these symptoms can get worse so I went on ahead and quietly asked our minister if we can use his office. He gladly agreed and as I was helping her walk towards his office, she informed me that she was then experiencing sharp chest pains. Based from our previous conversations, it didn’t seem that she has any history on heart diseases so I presumed the pains were symptoms of an anxiety attack. When we finally reached the office, I assisted her in doing deep breathing exercises. I calmly held her hand as I continually repeated the deep breathing instructions. She was sweating profusely which is also one of the symptoms of an anxiety attack so I opened one of the windows despite how cold the weather is outside.
The deep breathing exercises and cold air did give her relief as she slowly calmed down. With that, we were to talk about what brought out the symptoms of an anxiety attack. She said that she has been very anxious lately and on that day, she forgot to take her medication. As our talk progressed, we discussed about identifying the symptoms of an anxiety attack. We were quite close to the hospital so I asked her if she would want to go and have a quick check-up to make sure if the chest pains are indeed part of the symptoms of an anxiety attack. She assured me that they were and decided to just go home. I told her that no one noticed when we went to the minister’s office so she eventually decided to rejoin the party if I promise to assist her in going home when she asks to. I agreed but she stayed for most of the night. On our way home, she told me that if she was alone during that time, she would have already called for an ambulance as she doesn’t know how to differentiate the symptoms of an axiety attack and the symptoms of a heart attack. I told her that people often make that mistake and that she needs to be more aware of how anxiety affects her.