I won't go into all of the details of how this came about or the possibilities of why (don't worry, I've explored those details and possibilities in some self-discovery and therapy). Suffice it to say that I haven't always been this way-just about the last 3 years or so.
And God bless it, it's the most frustrating thing.
I told my husband I am petrified of the anxiety I'm probably going to have when we fly to California this Spring (and I know, I'm already setting myself up...) and he said, "Well, just don't worry." I looked at him with daggers and said, "I could kill you for saying that." (Now we have that kind of fun relationship, so don't go feeling sorry for him just yet. And to be fair, he is exceedingly comforting and supportive of my mountain of neuroses.)
But it brings me to a serious point-those who are outside looking in don't really understand it. Man, I'm telling you, if there was a switch somewhere inside me to just "turn it off" and just "stop worrying". Boom-I'd sell a kidney for it.
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I explained to my husband (and honestly, I think I have the best analogy EVER):
It's like my brain is a small room with "me" in it looking at these other two "me's" (we'll call them Jane and Jill). Sometimes when there is a problem or I just start to feel anxious for no apparent reason, I go to this imaginary room and look at Jane and Jill. Jane is sitting calmly in a chair saying quietly, "It's going to be fine. You are just thinking catastrophically. This too shall pass. It's all manageable. You're okay, I promise." Sounds good, right?
Then there's Jill. Jill is standing on her chair pumping her fists in the air, stomping her feet (sometimes jumping), sometimes running her hands crazily through her hair, a wild look in her eyes screaming, "WE ARE GOING TO DIE! SERIOUSLY, WE'RE DYING!!!!!!!!!"
Who do you listen to? Honestly. If that you walked into a small room with that going on, who are you going to pay attention to? Ever heard of the phrase, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease?" It's true!!
Here's another example-I literally had to talk myself down out of a full blown anxiety attack touring the Pensacola Naval Air Station Museum planes outside on a cute little trolley (not quite a diagnoseable panic attack, but there were definitely some rising physiological reactions). It came out of nowhere and for absolutely no reason other than my (and I know we are supposed to be nice to ourselves, but let's get real) STUPID brain says:
Brain: Oh man, what are you going to do if you have to go to the bathroom. Or wait...THE HOSPITAL?
Me: Oh no. I hadn't thought about that. It's true, he had a little remote to get onto this airstrip...yikes, I can't just get up and walk off the trolley. Oh no!
Brain: I know! But I mean, think about it-look! Our heart is beating a lot faster, palms are getting sweaty, you're feeling dizzy...oh no-we need to go the hospital and we can't.
Me: Oh my gosh, I can't believe I was so wreckless and decided to get myself into a situation where I'm trapped like this, obviously dying and no way to get to a hospital to save myself!
Brain: ISN'T THIS THE MOST TERRIBLE THING? WE ARE 100% DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE.
Okay, I know, I'm certifiable crazy.
No, but I do have some things to work on, for sure.
Here are 5 ways that I calm "the crazy":
1) Meditation. Yoga.
(You didn't think you could read a blog post on this site without this bring brought up, did you?? Honestly, now. We know each other better than that.) I'm telling you, without these two things I would be heavily medicated with a whole slew of other symptoms other than my psychosomatic ones. A mess, is what I would be. I can tell you that my panic attacks and episodes of panicking are now very few and far between (it's important to differentiate between the two). I feel myself rising to 10, but honestly haven't gone past an 8. I used to go to 11. I've talked about the benefits of yoga. Try it here. I swear, you will see improvements in your stress and anxiety levels. You just will.
2) Try an app for on-the-go anxiety issues!
Stop Panic and Anxiety-Self Help is awesome. Find if here. This helps to distract me, categorize my thinking and honestly, get a grip. It also offers meditation and an audio portion for when you are having a panic attack-talking you through it. Amazing, honestly.
3) Find a creative outlet.
Find something you can do that keeps your hands and your mind busy. If you need to always have a book with you so that you can distract yourself, do it. Paint. Draw. Journal. Blog. Do something to distract yourself and give yourself a way to be creative. It's really a two-fold concept. Positivity all around :)
4) Take care of yourself.
Find something you love-stretching? A bubble bath? A piece of dark chocolate? Sitting outside feeling the sun on your face? A walk on the beach? A good cup of coffee? Volunteering? A phone call with a friend? A video game? Going for a drive? Find something that you love and do it whenever you feel your anxiety getting the best of you. Try to relax and focus on the simplicity of what you're doing-when the sun is shining on you, are you fully aware of the fact that you are bathing in starlight? How beautiful! Focus on the little things and soak up the calming energy that is released when you take a moment to nurture yourself.
5) Learn how to handle being inside of a panic episode.
Let's talk about when you are in the middle of a panic attack. I've been there-it's horrible. My stomach is instantly upset, I have weird temperature fluctuations, heart palpitations, I start to shake uncontrollably, I feel like I can't swallow, I feel like I can't breathe, I want to run away from myself (weirdest sensation ever). If you didn't download the app listed above, or if you are are somewhere that you can't listen to the audio portion of the app try this: you want to grab the attention of your brain that is now in the fast lane. Give it a bit of a brick wall by forcefully directing the attention elsewhere. If you are somewhere where it is appropriate, say the name of everything you see out loud (e.g. "lamp", "ring" "popcorn", etc.) If you are somewhere where talking out loud isn't a good idea, say it to yourself. You want your tone to be firm at first, but then you will find that you can become gentle with yourself. Remember to breathe deeply, or try to anyway. By diverting attention and giving the brain another task (labeling things in the room) and utilizing the senses, it detracts from the chaotic behavior of the panic attack.
I hope that you can find something in this list that works for you and I hope you can come to a point where you find peace. Maybe anxiety isn't your battle, but if it is, know that you're not alone.
Cause let's be honest, we're all a little crazy sometimes.
Tell me what you think about this. Does it make sense to you? Are your experiences the same, different?