From the Archives: Anxiety

Ocean, Sun, Anxiety

Photo taken in Hermosa Beach, August 2006

When I started suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks, I felt like I was the only person in the world to have them.  After I began sharing my struggles with other people I realized that this is a huge area of pain that people keep quiet and hidden.  The problem with keeping anxiety hidden is that is how it flourishes.  The last thing I want to do is leave anxiety under a mat somewhere and pretend that this new blog means I am healed.

I still get panic attacks, although not as frequently.  I am no longer on a prescription and I attribute a lot of that to counseling (some people need both. I feel blessed that I did not).  It is a continual journey and this post reminds me of the fact that even when times get scary, there is always progress to be made. I learned a lot of management tactics through counseling that I use to this day.  If you’re struggling too, feel free to contact me [wheremysoulbelongs at gmail dot com].

May 8, 2011 (originally seen on Three Years Down)

As some of you who have been around for any period of time know, I get anxiety attacks.  I was going to counseling for a few months and that helped a LOT. I had gone a long time (several months) without a single attack and was feeling very peaceful and un-afraid.  Then the move to Big City happened and my world turned upside down. I’ve been back for about a month and a half and already had a few panic attacks, including TWO this weekend.

So yesterday I started taking my anti-anxiety meds again. I had a prescription with about half a month left (I weaned myself off once I started going to counseling). I was sure they expired last year, but when I went to CVS for something else earlier today I decided to check it out. I have until October 2011 before they are expired.  It is a HUGE blessing. I haven’t been at my job long enough to leave for doctors appointments to get a new prescription and I don’t want to tell them I could have a panic attack at any moment (which is untrue, but always in the back of my head).

I have decided that the worst part about them is not the panic itself, but the constant fear of having one, and the exhaustion that happens afterwards.  I know what the panic attacks are like. I know that realistically they generally last a maximum of 15 minutes.  I know that my heart starts pounding, my hands start sweating and cramping up, and my three fingers and palm start to tingle like they are going numb.  Sometimes, my feet even start to tingle. I feel like I can’t breath, but that only happens if I feel like I’m closed in by people somewhere that I can’t get out.  I know I hyperventilate without even knowing it and that drinking water helps.  I know that my hands WILL un cramp and I will NOT be paralyzed (regardless of what I’m thinking at first).

BUT what I DON’T know, is when they are going to happen.  So instead of being able to relax in situations that would be terrible to have a panic attack in, I sit there and worry I’m going to have one.  That happened in church today.  The wind is terrible in Big City right now. My allergies have me super congested and I’m having a hard time breathing.  That lead to a quick on-set panic attack as soon as the pastor started preaching.  Thankfully, my dad, sister (SO excited they are coming!) and I sit on the edges because I’ve already had one there once before – when they sat us front and center in the middle and I had to climb over 15 people to get out of the row TWICE before I finally went to the prayer room.  I went to the prayer room today and unfortunately missed almost the entire service. I will watch it later this week when it is posted online. The woman encouraged me to be at peace, to relax my body and pray when I feel one coming on (in my head, because when I pray out loud I pray instead of breathe, ha) and to take the medication.  It was nice to be encouraged in that. I feel like a lot of christians believe I should pray and be instantly at peace, but it’s hard to be at peace when your hands are going numb, you can’t breath and you’re sure everyone can SEE your heart beating out of your chest.

All in all, worship was wonderful and it is an INCREDIBLE blessing to go to church with my Dad and little sister (who have never come with me consistently before).  They are so understanding and patient with my anxiety, and I am so grateful for that. I am looking forward to going into court with the confidence that I will not have a panic attack mid opening statement now that I’ve decided to take my medication again.

I need to be vulnerable and weak sometimes, I suppose.  I don’t have to be perfect and have it all together. So I’m putting aside my pride and doing what it takes to get my life back again and not live in fear.

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