Truth: I’ve been trying to write this for 5 days, in that time I’ve had multiple panic attacks. My anxiety is high, I’m guessing it’s the time of year and other personal stressors. It’s well after midnight and I already know I’m up for the night. My mind is racing so here I sit trying to give this another attempt.
I’m not sure what I want you to know about my anxiety. You can explain a panic attack to someone however I guarantee they will not fully comprehend it until they experience it. It is the most irrational, crippling fear I have ever felt in my life.
The panic, terror, rapid, racing heart, a warm numbness that creeps from head to toe, racing thoughts, crippling stomach pain, dry heaving, sobbing, shaking – just a few symptoms. It interferes with my life plain and simple and always has.
Anxiety is like an obsessed ex; no matter how many times we break up she keeps coming back.
I’m pretty sure a large percentage of people have experienced panic/anxiety, as I search google to find a statistic. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports 18.1 percent or 40 million adults age 18 and older suffer from anxiety every year. I find it hard to believe it isn’t higher.
My first panic attack – Kindergarten. The bathroom door was enormous and heavy. I thought I was trapped: the rapid breathing, crying then wetting myself. That’s all it took for me to avoid entering that bathroom at all costs. At times my anxiety is very predictable but other times it pays me a surprise visit like a relative that shows up on your doorstep unannounced; “Do I really need to let you in right now, it’s not really a good time for me”.
For the longest time I believed I was just claustrophobic.
Small spaces set me off – crowded rooms, elevators; my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut were thwarted. In high school I discovered social anxiety and the painful fear of public speaking. As a young adult anxiety showed up at work during crowded meetings and trainings.
Now at middle age I find myself waking up in the middle of the night in the midst of a full blown panic attack. Pacing the streets at 3 a.m. because I need the air, I need to breathe, to not feel trapped, plus walking helps to burn up some of the excess energy. I now have also discovered the joys of separation anxiety.
Much of my panic stems from lack of control. Think about how many things are out of our control, now I guarantee I have thought of hundreds more. Simple tasks become long drawn out processes. Car rides, traffic jams, eating, going to the bathroom, taking medicine, visiting cities, parking in a parking garage, riding elevators, going on airplanes.
Many of these are everyday tasks and although I don’t always have a panic attack from these things, it happens. I take great effort in trying to gain control of these situations, keep things predictable. You wouldn’t believe the lengths of research I do if I am going somewhere new. You can also guarantee I always have an exit strategy.
I want people to know this is not something you can “get over”, this fear is very real to me. My mind reels contemplating everything in the universe, dissecting and pulling apart thoughts until I am physically ill. I can’t just make it stop. I have strategies, I have medication if needed but most of all I have my will power.
– Toxicbulldog (click here to follow on instagram)
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