There is not an easy way to explain what an anxiety attack really is and how it plays out for an individual. Even though 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, most people in this country do not have the resources to care for themselves properly. The unique challenges of anxiety present in a multitude of ways, and even with the same person, can come out in different ways from time to time.
I want to be able to speak clearly and explain my feelings. One of the most difficult parts of having a mental or neurological disorder is your self-concept. The thinking is “how is this me?”, because I do not want to feel that way. It is no wonder it is so difficult processing your own emotions after an anxiety attack. Society won’t talk about it, and we shame ourselves, even when we are healing.
There are days when I know something is off and if I can stop it, it makes me happy. Those are days that I am prepared for life’s little curveballs. The reality is I take on every day the issues that I have, so having an anxiety attack and being able to talk about it is is a step forward. There is so much shame that we have as a society to have any kind of mental health issue, it’s important to understand it doesn’t have to be this way.
Swirling and All over the place
Today is a Monday and it is hitting me like a bag of bricks. I want to share this so you can feel just a little less alone. It’s not always like this, and most days lately I am in a really good place. Even though I set out to write this blog to share more about my life, I hadn’t gotten to the hard parts yet.
Still reeling, I am not really in the aftermath. My rational brain tells me it is over, but the physical sensations overwhelm me. I can’t tell if I am hyperventilating or just moving around too much. My vertigo comes in and out and makes me think it’s all in my head. It is in my head, but the sensations you process are real. The dizziness sensation is all over me right now. If I fight it my body gets sore from the muscle tension provoked. Otherwise, I give in and become so sleepy. Today I am dizzy and trying to work through it. If I get up and walk around I will get even dizzier. Meanwhile, a small human being is asking for attention and I attend to him.
My medication is waiting for me.
I am trying not to over-medicate.
I take one puff outside in the freezing cold, then rush back inside to see how my son’s iPad class is going. He’s fine attending a 15-minute session that the penguin timer will tell him about. I know I have this long to try to get some words out and deflect the nasty vibe I got from my morning.
That’s over and I get up and twirl about again as I try to convince myself that I’m alright. I’m still cold even though I was outside for 2 minutes. I have a tank top, sweatshirt, and jacket on; I have been back in the house for an hour now. This jacket is one I got this year because it was inexpensive and I needed something in a hurry. It reminds me of a quilt; probably because it is quilted. The quilting hugs me like a teddybear cuddle, and it’s not too warm or constrictive.
The rest of my day will mostly about letting myself recover. It’s hard to not feel guilty when the narrative is that you are just too lazy, need to find god, or smoke too much pot. All of which may be true, but are only part and not the reason for me here. The work that you do to heal yourself takes courage. It takes much-needed love for yourself. I owe it to myself to take a break. The spinning and swirling take over me and force me to let go. If I let go and fall asleep because I am not well, don’t call me lazy.
Stress makes me fall asleep.
The anxiety attack yesterday is a reason today for my ongoing anxiety. I’m not sure I’m ready to share why I was set off. I am coping. Learning the things that could lead to better coping is always on my To-Do List. Coping is about taking care of yourself.
Once I realized how I was feeling overwhelmed and melting down (i. e- having an anxiety attack), I do several things. Goal number one is to ground myself. The physical sensations of a full-blown anxiety attack require a physical grounding.
I’m trying to find equilibrium. Writing every day has become a bit of an anchor.
My adult self tells me it is okay to discredit myself and all my effort (of working through an anxiety attack) because you can’t see it. I tell myself this because I still feel shame, even though I shouldn’t. Even though we pretend to care about people with mental health issues, the whole damn world judges and demeans. Even other people with mental health diagnoses compare their version of diagnosis with yours.
Mostly we do it to ourselves. We choose to live our lives in the way that we find correct. What we do with the baggage along the route has everything to do with ourselves. So much of this is from being caught in a never-ending loop of self-doubt. You doubt yourself so that you doubt your own self-worth.
I want to barf when I think about feeling unnecessary crap for four days in a row. Am I actually feeling anything? PTSD hits like a tornado. I feel this all over my body. Much of the tension ends up in my hips and back. In the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by ESSEL VAN DER KOLK, M.D., he addresses the connection of the physical plane with our retained trauma. It was a therapist who told me about this book when I was first diagnosed.
I am working through this with my hope that I can publish what it is like to experience (an anxiety attack). What is it worth to work hard confronting this energy if not to help you heal? Is it making me better? Probably not, but it’s an outlet to let yourself be okay with yourself.
I don’t sit long and write because my body won’t let me. The pain I feel in my joints is real; arthritis, I suppose. Moving my body is better, and it’s good for my frenetic mind, but it doesn’t allow me to get the ideas down.
A Full Week Later
It’s been a week now and I think my anxiety attack has fizzled to the point that I can say I am “normal” again.
Having a week full of happiness, and free from headaches is my Goal this week.