A Reflection On Heart Surgery, Anxiety, and Healing

Surfer: Connor Eck || Photo: Tasha Rivard

Surfer: Connor Eck || Photo: Tasha Rivard

A year ago today, I wasn't traveling or building a van. I was sitting on a rock taking pictures of my friends while they surfed in the fog. At the time, I had just had heart surgery a few days prior for an arrhythmia. I could barely walk, and was wrestling with deeply engrained anxiety issues surrounding the experience of trying to get a diagnosis for what was going on with me (it took 6+ months) and from the operation itself (which I was completely awake for and vividly remember). It had thrown everything I had known into question; could I even trust my own body? Though the physical issue was fixed with surgery, I quickly realized that the rules of the game had changed for me. I would have to find ways to rebuild myself emotionally my own.

Photo: Tasha Rivard

I turned primarily to yoga, photography, and nutrition. While it took a while to get to the point where I could find their true power, yoga and meditation gave me means to ground and connect myself mentally and physically. My camera got me up and out, and gave me a way to recognize, appreciate, and be grateful for the beauty I'm surrounded with every day. I also started learning more about the impact of food production - socially and environmentally - and its effect on overall health.

From the outside, it can be tough to tell what people are going through. 

From the outside, it can be tough to tell what people are going through. 

While anxiety is not something you just "get" and "get over", it has taken me a full year of steadily dismantling it to feel grounded physically, mentally, and emotionally again, and ready for a new adventure! I could not be more grateful to be taking everything I have learned through the process the past year with me.

Photo: Tasha Rivard

Photo: Tasha Rivard

If you read this whole post, you're a champ. I hope you walk away with something that can be applied to your own life, even it's as simple as taking the time to slow down and appreciate yourself and your surroundings 

Photo: Tasha Rivard