Imagine you’re stuck in a glass box and it’s filling up with water. You’re surrounded by friends and family and they are living their lives, talking, laughing and you’re screaming but they can’t hear you. Nothing bad has happened yet, but you know that eventually if you’re in the box long enough you won’t be able to breathe. So, you’re trying to ask for help but you’re not sure how someone could even help you, you see, the box is sealed, you know if water is coming in, there is a way for it to go out but you just don’t know what to do about it. That is what my anxiety feels like.
I don’t always know what is wrong and I can’t even explain what I’m feeling but it can completely freeze me and I’m stuck. Sometimes for a couple minutes and sometimes it can last days, that’s the thing about anxiety you can’t avoid it, but you can learn how to (kinda) live with it.
My first ever panic attacked happened a couple of months ago. I’m a bit of a prick so I think karma came back for me because I used to not understand what a panic attack was and I really underestimated how serious it is, then I had one and game changer.
I’m driving in the rain down highway 99, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong prior to me getting in the car. I’m not even driving my own car, I’m driving a car share and my dog is in the seat beside me. She starts climbing around because she’s nervous and whilst I’m trying to switch lanes and can’t see anything because of the fog she somehow gets behind my neck and this was the thing that initiated the attack. I don’t even know what happened but all the sudden I couldn’t breath, I was crying uncontrollably, I was screaming at my poor dog to move, I tried to rip off my clothing because I didn’t know what to do, I just knew something was wrong.
Now from the outside looking in, literally, like the cars surrounding me, I would’ve looked insane. There was dog in the hood of my jacket, I’m driving an old school Toyota, I’m ugly crying, snotting and screaming AND on top of all of that, I was trying to rip off my own clothing. This was in fact, not, my finest moment.
To me though, this was just so scary. It was the first time I’ve ever lost control of my own emotions and I didn’t know who to talk to about it so I messaged my friend, Dillon.* I was lucky, he was able to empathize with me really quickly and reassure me that I wasn’t crazy and he was actually the one who told me what I had was, a panic attack. Never in my life have I been so grateful for someone. He didn’t tell me how to fix it, he didn’t ask me a million questions, he just was there for me when I needed it. I don’t know if I ever said thank you, but thank you.
After this happened I tried to learn how to handle anxiety. I think I just thought I was super human and it wouldn’t affect me, fun fact, I was wrong. BUT I tried (almost) everything google suggested,
- Meditation – my mind wonders too aggressively and I can’t mediate quickly, so this one didn’t quite work for me. Also, I tend to fall asleep and shockingly that isn’t the goal, weird right?
- Yoga – again, I don’t have enough self-discipline, so unless I’m in a class I can’t follow through and I can’t afford the classes.
- Natural Medicine – honestly, Bill Nye would agree with me, but this just doesn’t work, I wanted it too, but it doesn’t.
- Running/Working Out – this one actually does work, but only when the anxiety doesn’t last too long. It’s a quick fix but not permanent.
- Getting More Sleep – If you don’t see the problem with this one, you’re missing all the points. If I could sleep more I would, but I’m awake thinking about why I can’t fall asleep.
- Planning for Anxiety – basically this is planning for the worst and trying to recreate the feeling of a panic attack. It’s supposed to train your mind to be more comfortable with it, but oh my god, nope.
What I’m saying is, the things that work for a lot of people, and I believe these things do work for a lot of other people, don’t work for me. The only thing left is getting medication for it, but I’m lazy and not too eager to spend that money yet therefore, I accept it.
SIDE NOTE: Someone once actually told me I don’t look like someone with anxiety. When I asked why they stated, I am always smiling and laughing, I seem very confident and comfortable in small or large crowds, I’m very independent and I just don’t fit what you would expect, but it can happen to anyone. Thats the point, it doesn’t discrimate, it just happens. Some of us and just more inclined to try and hide it than others. So try and be aware of how you treat people, its easy to not be a dick. Frankly, most people are fighting a battle you can’t even see, don’t make it worse by being an asshole.
I did get a chance to speak with a professional regarding my anxiety and it turns out I’ve had it my entire life, I just wasn’t recognizing it as anxiety. It was just me being over dramtic, in my own words. Today, the power I have is simply finding comfort in knowing that it’s okay for anxiety to win sometimes, because it always goes away.
Sure, it sucks balls not knowing when its going to leave or why it’s there, but if all I have for now is the knowledge that eventually I’ll be okay, that’s going to have to cut it. Please know though, sometimes I’m off and I don’t feel great and I won’t be able to tell you why. It isn’t because I don’t want too, it’s just because I can’t. Not everyone will be able to understand this or stick around when its rough but being with someone who has anxiety is more and more common these days and I think its good that we’re all trying to gain more knowledge around it.
I still have a lot to learn, so if any of you have anxiety I would love to hear what you do to live with it and how it has affected you. Thank you for sharing your stories with me.
xx your gal, AL.
*Quick background on Dillon, we have only met once and he has been a constant friend to me since I moved to Vancouver. If you know Dillon you are one of the lucky ones.