Please read with caution if you have anxiety and/or are susceptible to panic attacks.
It’s been an interesting– Actually, you know what. Fuck it.
This week has been as an actual clusterfuck.
Do me a favor and imagine this:
You’re in bed, sound asleep. Soft music plays in the background as you subconsciously wrap yourself tighter in your very warm and comfortable blanket.
All of a sudden you’re wide awake. Your breathing is fast and shallow, chest heaving as if you’d just sprinted a hundred meter dash, and a wave of panic crashes over you. In your confusion, you curl up into a ball like you can protect yourself but this pain isn’t so easily avoidable. You feel like you can’t breathe, like there’s something physically squeezing your chest. Tears are streaming down your face and you don’t have a goddamn clue why.
It’s like you’re trapped in a glass bubble in the middle of a raging storm. You’re overwhelmed by everything and yet you almost feel numb. You feel like you’ve been swallowed by complete chaos and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to save yourself.
Then a dim light flickers in the back of your mind and you finally realize what’s going on.
A panic attack.
This is what I woke up to on Tuesday.
Now I’m no stranger to anxiety or panic attacks, just look at my past posts and you’ll see what I mean.
But I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve had an attack this bad. And it’s the first time I’ve ever woken up to one. When it all began, everything I knew about how to deal with one just flew out of my brain. But eventually, I calmed myself down enough to send a very important text to my best friend.
It was just a stream of consciousness of everything I was thinking and feeling while the attack continued.
This is something that I’ve developed as a coping mechanism for myself and I’ve found it helps me deal with attacks or just anxiety in general. I felt like if I could “see” my anxiety in something I could understand (i.e. words) then I can physically let go of those things that were suffocating me. Even if they appeared to be nonsensical ramblings.
But in that text, I (somehow) managed to make a plan that I was (surprisingly) determined to carry out.
- Once I calmed down, I was going to take a few minutes to just breathe.
- I was going to inform my manager that I couldn’t go into work.
- I was going to get some more sleep and, when I woke up, I would take the time to make sure I take care of myself.
Number one took some time but, after sending the longest text ever, I was able to remember a breathing exercise.
*Note* If you need it: Breath in for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. And breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat until you feel like you can think clearly.
I can’t say it works for everyone but it definitely helps me slow down.
The second item on the list would be a little harder for me to go through with. You see, I absolutely hate feeling like I’ve let someone down. And telling my manager that I wouldn’t be able to work certainly qualified. It’s also important to mention that my attack woke me up around 3 AM and I wasn’t really able to think clearly until about 5 AM. But I knew if I tried to go to work I would end up in an even worse state and no doubt have another panic attack, likely in front of people. That of course would make things about a hundred times worse.
And so I kept asking myself: is this selfish?
There are times when I just want to be selfish to no end because of how much of myself I’ve given to others in the past. But when it comes to things I should actually be selfish about (i.e. my mental health) then I feel as though I don’t have “the right”.
Which is absolutely ridiculous.
Of course I have the right to make sure I don’t have another breakdown that could possibly endanger my personal safety. (P.S. So do you.)
But I’m not kidding when I say I had to force myself to tell my manager I wouldn’t be at work. They would later call and be extremely understanding, making me realize I literally had nothing to worry about.
Now task number three was also a tad harder to commit to.
I mean, sleep came rather quickly. Though I suppose that’s because I was so mentally and emotionally drained that I literally closed my eyes and was out in seconds.
But the “taking care of myself” part has always been… a process.
I said I’d wake up and wash my face then eat a healthy breakfast before going outside, even if only for a few minutes to get the mail.
The actual hard part was getting up AND out of bed.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows this feeling. I actually didn’t leave my room til roughly two hours after waking up. But I eventually did and actually accomplished the things I said I’d do.
Now I wouldn’t be surprised if you were thinking something along the lines of, “Why is she talking about this? Surely it isn’t a pleasant thing to think about.”
First of all, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
Kidding. Well, not entirely.
You see, I wanted to document this for my benefit as well as for others. I wanted a reminder that no matter how terrible a panic attack can feel, I can get through it.
But more than that, I want people to know more about these things. I want to get rid of the stigma, even if only in my own small way. It’s real. And the thoughts and emotions that plague people who deal with it are real too. That’s why I go into so much detail, so people can have even the smallest understanding of what it means to have anxiety. To give them a chance to see things through my eyes.
Of course, I can only speak for myself. No two people’s anxiety are the same.
And if you do experience this kind of anxiety then I want you to know that you’ll get through it too. It’s by no means easy, but it isn’t impossible as long as you just keep trying.
And regardless of whether or not you have anxiety (or any other mental illness), then I hope you know that your feelings are valid.
I think I’m eventually going to do a post on how to cope with anxiety or at least things that help me and could possibly help you or anyone else reading this. When I do, I’ll be sure to link it here.
But for now, this is it. I hope I could help you to understand things you might not have before. Or even to start conquering your own anxiety.
Until next time,
~ Miss Misfit