It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

I’ve been going back and forth on writing this post for a while now. I’m one of those people who isn’t a fan of being vulnerable or showing signs of weakness. After the month I’ve been through, and the battle I’m still fighting, I think I’ve come to realize my anxiety is more of a sign of my strength than weakness.

I’ve had problems dealing with stress my entire life. When I was two years old, my pediatrician told my mother no one would ever be able to put more stress on me than I put on myself. Go figure, he was a very wise man. I have this incessant need for perfection and approval, not from others, from myself. In school I was always obsessed over my grades, in adult life it’s my quality of work.

The first time I realized how severe my anxiety was, I was around 19 and I had a panic attack in my sleep. IN MY SLEEP!!!! I woke up with all of my muscles so tense I couldn’t move, my neck and arms were stuck in one position. It was terrifying. This was also around the same age I had to have jaw surgery for the first time due to my teeth grinding at night. They tried every medicine and device imaginable to get me to stop, even Botox. I still grind to this day.

I’ve had periods in my life where the attacks dissipate for months and even years. The anxiety is still there though. I’m sure I hold the world record for being able to jump to the worst case scenario the fastest. As long as I’m not on the edge of an attack you would never know, unless of course you know me very well. I once had a doctor tell me I just needed to stop over thinking, like I really hadn’t thought of that. If I could just stop over analyzing then I surely wouldn’t be spending my money on doctor visits and medications. Concert tickets aren’t cheap.

I’ve been coping without anxiety medication for almost two years, until now. I must say this is the worst my anxiety has ever been by an insane amount. I currently can’t even drink caffeine. At my last doctors visit they upgraded me from generalized anxiety disorder, to severe anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Aren’t upgrades supposed to be good things?

So what is an attack like?

Imagine you are having a totally normal day, everything is fine. It may only take one break of routine or one small thing that goes wrong to trigger it, depending on how severe the anxiety is. Suddenly, you can’t breathe, your chest is tight. You feel your heart start racing, I can usually feel it beating in my back. You get hot, your blood pressure is climbing. Every muscle in your body tenses. You want to cry, you want to scream, you want to go to the ER and make sure you aren’t dying because it can feel like a heart attack. Sensory overload is the next thing. Lights, sounds, people, it all becomes too much. All of this generally happens within minutes.

There is no breathing technique I’ve ever found that works for me. I’ve tried them all multiple times. Every ones anxiety affects them differently. I have found that if I feel like I might have an attack, I can listen to Ray Lamontagne and his voice can usually keep it at bay. Something about it calms me, always has. He talks about anxiety and worry in a lot of his songs and I guess I’ve always felt some strange kinship to him. We suffer together.

Another thing a lot of people don’t understand about anxiety, is how overwhelmed the person gets with normal things. Over the past month of me trying to get this in check, I have neglected house work that I always stay on top of, haven’t wanted to leave the house for anything, and basically been a human sloth. Being in a state of panic is draining on the body, you’re constantly in fight or flight mode. We aren’t lazy, or depressed, we are exhausted and overwhelmed. They should give you the option of a temporary personal assistant at the pharmacy when you pick up anxiety meds.

It also comes with bouts of rage and irritability because you’ve gotten to the point of being so overwhelmed with anxiety in its entirety that your emotions are all jumbled together and often come out as rage. We’re not mad, just frustrated at ourselves and our jerk of a brain. Same goes for those who just shut down and don’t talk. I have tendencies to do both.

I get hypersensitivity to disarray, chaos or any sort of change. The unpredictability is terrifying when you’re already freaking out.

This isn’t all of the time, this is during the peak of anxiety right before and during an attack. I’m not crazy 24/7, no need to start a prayer chain for Kent’s well-being or sanity.

Another common misconception is there is one level on anxiety. There’s not. There are three main kinds. Typical, Generalized, and Severe.

With typical anxiety, everyone has experienced it, before a test, due to stress, things like that. It doesn’t last long and is easy to control. No medications at all required and generally no physical symptoms.

Generalized anxiety starts having physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and insomnia. Sometimes you can have heart racing and shakiness. This is when the worry progresses to everyday things. Medication would be considered, but not a certainty. You would want to consider therapy or counseling.

Severe anxiety brings the attacks, the shortness of breath, the chest pain and heart palpitations. Basically you constantly feel like you’re having a heart attack. Once I reached this point I asked for all of the medications and anything else they had. I had never experienced it this bad for this long and honestly I just don’t have time for it. I joke that I’ve had anxiety for so long, now its just become obsessed with me. I need a restraining order.

I have been dealing with this my whole life, so I do what I do best and try to find the humor in it. I have to I think. Even with everything anxiety brings, and it brings symptoms you wouldn’t even think of, like constant peeing, I still get things done. I still go to work, I still take care of my daughter, and have a healthy relationship with my boyfriend. I want to sit at home in the dark and watch Netflix and listen to Ray Lamontagne all day, but I don’t, I suck it up and get things done. It’s not always easy, and some days are better than others, but I don’t let it take more from me than it already has, and I think that’s some kind of victory.

I know where my stress and anxiety is currently coming from, the same thing that caused it to trigger last month. It’s nothing new, just a worsening environment I’m working to resolve. I know I’ll eventually slay this dragon, and then at some point there will be another one, but I’m only learning more ways to fight. So bring it…and the Xanax.

 

 

24 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s My Anxiety

Add yours

  1. This is a post after my own heart. I’ve been fighting anxiety for quite some time now and it has deteriorated in last few days due to the incessant stress I am going through. It is giving me bad headaches. It’s horrible. But thank you for the post, I know I am not alone in this. 🙂

      1. I don’t know if this will help but try taking a walk alone or go running. Spend some time outdoors alone. Might help get your breath back to normal. I hope things will be better soon.

        1. Hot baths or just being in a dark room tend to help the most. However, I’m at work under terrible fluorescent lightning lol. About to turn my office light off.

  2. You describe exactly my feelings!
    Panic attack can happen anytime, anywhere. Still you just do what is expected.
    I’ve gone through a horrible phase, but things seem a bit more calm now 🙂

  3. I gave you a shout out on my latest post, hope that was ok. Your blog is so honest, funny and just lovely. I hope that knowing your anxiety trigger(s) is at the very least a puncture wound into that dragon. Beautiful song.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I have experienced a few of the symptoms you describe but not to the extent that you have. It sounds challenging. I do hope that you are able to control your environment and get through this phase. Good luck

  5. There’s a story missing from my blog – about the last two years with Miss 17. Two years out of school, getting help for her, and slowly putting her back together. We’re still not out of the woods, but we’re getting there. I know this story better than I should.

    1. Bless her heart. And you and your wife for having to watch her suffer through it. It’s hard watching someone you love suffer and not be able to help. I’m glad she’s doing better. She’s got a great dad to support her through it, and believe me that’s huge!

    2. I have a 12 year old who is fighting anxiety and it is the hardest thing in the world to watch her suffer with it. She misses so much time at school that I have considered homeschooling her. We started our blog to help her see that there are others with this and for others like her to see that they are not alone!

  6. Great post! I’ve been dealing with the same for 8 yrs now. I thought I was having heart attacks because well it feels like it! I have developed PTSD having too many scary things happen during my cancer journey, I realize my triggers now and I have some strange ones. I’m also medicated because as we know once it starts there’s no stopping it you released the fear trigger and hold tight for the scary ride right? I will say mine went from any fearful thought starting an attack to the point I can talk myself out usually but I know that dragon lays in the dark and can catch me off guard anytime. You are so brave to write this and I thank you!

    1. Thank you so much! And congrats for being able to conquer it enough to be able to talk yourself off the ledge sometimes! I look forward to reading your journey.

  7. Thank you for a well written post on a stigmatized subject. This kid relates. Most of the time I’m at the generalized level, but I step it up a notch to severe on occasion. Non-chemical things that help me include: walking, running, hiking, being outside in nature, being with animals, yoga, deep breathing, music and singing, dancing from the soul, falling asleep to solfeggio tones (google it) to balance chakras, mantras of positivity, and visualizing myself as a calm, zen, mediating Buddhist monk. Some days I feel like I’m nearly there… until that tsunami hits out of nowhere. Learning to ride that gnarly wave… I wish you peace.

  8. Erica, well written as always. Nicole is struggling through some anxiety once again, sleeping in, very tired. She told me last night that the reason she wants her phone with her at school is so she can call 911 if she needs to. She woke up in the grips of a panic attack 2 mornings ago, but pushed through it for once, instead of working herself up. So she is learning to cope…slowly. I learn something everyday about her anxiety and how to help her with it. I am definitely getting her to read this to show her that she isn’t alone.
    She does say that she isn’t constantly worrying about her health as much, so the new medication is working.
    Chill Mom Julia

    1. Once I went and had all of the tests ran on my heart to prove I wasn’t dying, I felt slightly better. I still have days full of the symptoms, but knowing a heart attack isn’t happening helps. I’ve discovered I hate unfamiliar things and places, change, and poor communication. Oddly enough, I’m at my best in high stress situations, I spent many years working in the ER doing trauma. Probably because I don’t have time to over think. My anxiety is why I started re-doing furniture. The painting relaxes me, and I get to be creative.

Leave a Reply

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: