Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A little bit about anxiety

I haven't written in a while, and I'm very sorry. Well, sort of sorry. Life happened! Lol

I thought I would get back into the swing of things by writing about something that I have been struggling with over the last few months and that is my anxiety.

If you have never had another panic attack, let me try and describe for you what it feels like to have an anxiety/panic attack.

It's like a tornado. A tornado is basically wind. Just wind. How bad can wind be? But a tornado doesn't just appear out of a perfect blue sky, it builds slowly. Its the same thing for an attack. It starts with one thought, just like a cloud. One bad, mean, grumpy thought. I'll use the thought "You will FAIL" for this example. So there is it - the FAIL cloud. It's just a single cloud and there is nothing dangerous about a single cloud. But it attracts more clouds. And they are all the reasons that you are going to FAIL, little BECAUSE clouds. You are going to FAIL BECAUSE: you're not prepared, you're not smart, you're not funny, they don't like you. And now you have a storm going on inside you're head. 

Suddenly, you find yourself agreeing with the clouds. That has to be it. Of course you're going to FAIL. How could you possible succeed? And that is the wind picking up. and it begins to swirl around and pick up speed. Pretty soon it's picking up junk from everywhere inside your head. "You're fat." "No one likes you." "You drive that wrong car and that is why you're going to FAIL." And the wind just keeps picking up, and then before you know what's happening, it's a tornado. 

Outside of your head are the things that everyone can see. They can see you shaking and nervous. The beads of sweat, the tears rolling down your cheeks. I pace back and fourth trying to stop that shaking (it rarely works - but helps to burn off the nervous energy.)

So that is what a panic attack feels like if you are lucky enough to never have had one. Now while this is going on, I am completely aware that this is completely irrational. That I will not fail, and if I do fail, it will not be because I drive the wrong car, or because I'm not funny or not prepared. Sometimes you just fail. And that's ok. But those thoughts, the ones that are trying to scream over the clouds, sometimes are just not loud enough and then I completely crumble and have a panic attack that involves  A LOT of crying and a good nuclear meltdown. 

Sometimes that feels pretty good. It's like an emotional cleanse. And after the tornado, once the sky is clear again, I can go back to trying to succeed again and sorting it out. Most of the time, because I'm actually kind of lucky when it comes to my anxiety, I can catch myself as the clouds are rolling in and stop the wind from building. I can manage to stop and run down what would happen if I did fail. Which is usually nothing. NOTHING horrible will happen if I fail. I won't die. Nobody else will die. I'll just have to try again. And that's ok. I can do that.

I'm also really lucky in that I don't have panic attacks very often. I have actually gone years without a major one, and months and months without a small one, so I'm very fortunate. I do feel anxious a lot, but it's not usually something that turns into an attack and it's pretty minor compared to what so many other people go through. 

So please, if you know somebody who has anxiety, be patient and kind. Be understanding. Don't tell them to "just calm down", or "get over it". Because believe me, we would if we could!! 

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