I’m writing this from the comforts of my front yard, soaking up some vitamin D while recovering from the shitfest this morning was. First it started with right chest pain (crampy that felt better with massaging, so I knew it wasn’t more serious) then because Captain Anxiety had strapped on her thigh highs I started freaking out that I had to go to the ER or something. Cue panic attack (while dropping the kids off at daycare so I could do work around the house today…which that plan is now busted), and I landed at home on the bathroom floor taking lorazepam and breathing/massaging.
I share this because anxiety is so frustrating to me. I had plans today. Plans to clean, organize, and go through clothing to sort sell/giveaway and do laundry. Simple things. And thanks to this morning the whole day was derailed and that’s kind of defeating. Having to wait for meds to kick in, then nap off the panic attack (they’re pretty exhausting), is time-consuming.
But I know I’m not alone. There are many like me out there who have anxiety. Some more-so and less-so than I. But we are all one tribe falling down the rabbit hole together and understanding that sometimes we just have to stop, breathe, and listen to our bodies.
It’s ok to bob along and wait in the moment. Screw “just keep swimming” because if you have anxiety and try to push through like that at your worst you will drown. I’ve been meaning to write about this for weeks but every time I go to hit publish it’s just too hard & wayyyy too naked for my comfort level. But today, after 3 people messaged me on facebook after I posted about this morning, I realized that so many of us feel alone and that we’re broken. We’re not! So our brains are wired a little differently, that’s ok! As this chick points out – it’s because we care SO much. You have to love so deeply to be afraid of losing everything. I like her take on it all:
For those who don’t have anxiety and think it’s just us freaking ourselves out (ok, some accuracy there), and that we can just “stop worrying” I’d like you know it’s not so easy. This is how I described it to my husband, and he seemed to “get it” after that:
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls down the rabbit hole. She quickly forgets she’s falling because she’s so distracted by all the shit floating around. Because she’s so focused on all the items around her, she doesn’t realize how far she’s actually fallen until she hits the bottom & is unable to climb out. Anxiety is like that. I’ll start falling down that rabbit hole of worried thoughts and not even realize I’m falling until my pulse is racing, my hands are sweating, my whole body rises in temperature, and I start feeling like I’m going to pass out. With therapy I’ve learned how to better manage this. I’ll start to realize when I’m falling and throw myself a safety net to chill out on so I can rebuild my thoughts and drown out the distractions.
Most of the time now I see the rabbit hole before I even go down it, that’s pretty rad because 9 years ago I couldn’t. I’ve always been embarrassed and ashamed of this aspect of myself, but through therapy I found that talking about the shit that’s freaking me out actually makes a difference in MY own stress/anxiety. And it helps to know you’re not alone. So if you’re reading this and you do have anxiety – we’re in the same tribe. Ho how and all that. There are cookies on Tuesdays and naps on bathroom floors with the water running during the “dark times”.
For those of you reading this who don’t have anxiety – know that you probably know someone in your life who does and is paralyzed by the fear of someone knowing. Someone who avoids bridges, etc, because they trigger panic attacks. Not all panic attacks are big numbers with hyperventilation – mine tend to manifest introvertedly (um yes introvertedly is a word, spell check) while my body struggles to fight it inside and gain control of the outer parts (aka I will feel pretty fucked up inside but try to play it off like “oh I’m fine” and whatnot). Eventually for me, I find a bathroom floor, run some water, and lay down. The cold hard surface grounds me and takes care of the heat aspect of the attack, the firm ground reminds me I’m ok and not going to pass out (or go far if I do), and the water is white noise that honest-to-goodness drowns out the “what if” thoughts. So if you’re reading this and you know someone who acts a little weird or leaves parties early, or stays in bathrooms for long periods…you may know someone with anxiety. And you know what we need during that time? Support.
Support isn’t “just suck it up” or “stop worrying, that stuff won’t happen”. Support is holding our hand, offering water, and quietly laying down with us till it passes. Support is saying “tell me what’s bothering you” then quietly listening without response as we dump it all out. Support is validating that it’s ok to worry, that we’re not broken/defected. Support sometimes also means never riding haunted mansion at Disney together (sorry, Matt).
So, yeah. Anxiety sucks. But over the years I’ve started to realize that my “defect” makes me more aware of my body & mind. I tend to take better self care because of it and carve out “me” time. I think anxiety also helps my sense of humor because when you think about catastrophic shit all the time (I literally have stickers on both sides of my kid’s car seats with their names, DOB, blood types, and allergies on it should we get in an accident and I can’t talk), you tend to find hilarity in everything. I like that about myself.
Sometimes I think of myself as my own Prince Charming battling panic dragons daily to rescue myself. I like that. And I like me.