Most of the time, living alone can be pretty amazing. I can eat whenever and whatever I want, there's no one to disturb my sleep at night, and any mess that's made is my own. But every once in a while something happens that makes me wonder why, in my singleness, I chose to not have roommates.
I am a self-confessed hypochondriac. I've had enough medical issues in my life and a strong enough connection to my body to know when something is wrong. However, I automatically have a tendency to assume the worst, like a five-alarm fire that inevitably ends up with me in the emergency room. (Why do all questionable emergencies have to happen around 10pm when all the urgent care centers are closing?)
In just one of these scenarios, on a recent Friday night, I decided that I was having a mild allergic reaction to almonds. "No problem," I thought. I did the rational adult thing and took an antihistamine, telling myself that everything would be fine. Meanwhile, in my head, I was panicking about the potential of having a new nut allergy and remembering a time when my grandmother had an anaphylactic allergic reaction (not an image you soon forget).
Even so, I tried to remain calm and distracted myself by doing the dishes and coloring, both of which are my own forms of therapeutic meditation.
Awhile later, right around the 10pm witching hour, I wasn't feeling much better, and was even questioning if things were starting to get a little bit worse. Soon enough, my body was uncontrollably shaking, my digestive system was overactive, and all I could do was close my eyes and try to take one deep breath after another.
I Googled emergency rooms, secretly wishing that my dog would turn into a human and give me his opinion on my predicament. I had brief moments where I was able to calm myself, and, in those brief spaces, I berated myself for letting my anxiety get the best of me.
Finally, I knew what I had to do: Despite my shame of knowing that I might sound completely crazy, I put a request in through my insurance company's free service to have a doctor call me. (God bless them for this.) He called within minutes, and I semi-calmly relayed the facts. When he didn't immediately tell me to run to the ER, I felt my shaking body relax and my throat soften. I peppered him with 1001 questions to ensure that I truly believed I wasn't going to die overnight, figuring that if I had him on the phone, I might as well embrace my "crazy."
We hung up and I took a deep breath. For tonight, my yoga allowed me to be vulnerable and to ask for help. Practicing ahimsa and being gentle with myself was knowing that I just needed someone to talk me off the ledge. And that's ok.
Allison Richard is a yoga instructor, writer, and life coach for mind, body, and soul. Read more of her work here or follow her on Instagram.