Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fighting With Anxiety

For those that are lucky enough to not have to deal with the anxiety or depression, it can be hard to understand what it's really like. If you know someone with anxiety or depression (or both) you may not understand why they say the things they say, do the things they do, or don't do the things they don't do. Please know that it's (usually) nothing you said or did. In fact, it usually has nothing to do with you or how the person feels about you. 
Please understand, it's nothing personal.

All anxiety is not the same. It's different for each person and sometimes each episode is different for one person. We all react to it differently and have different ways of coping with it. I don't claim to speak for everyone, but as someone who has struggled with anxiety attacks and depression for most of her life, this is what some of those moments are like for me:

exhausted after an anxiety attack


Most days for me, it's just dealing with endless ridiculous thoughts. Analyzing and agonizing over every single detail of everything. Every conversation I've had. Every decision I've made. Beating myself up over things I've done. Beating myself up over things I haven't done. The simplest decision feels like I'm trying to decode some long lost language and the existence of the entire world is relying on me to get it right.

Some days, I wake up
smiling and go downstairs to make my coffee. I pour myself a nice big mug and sit down to check my Facebook. Today feels like a great day. No, a fan-fucking-tastic day! I make breakfast and start to clean up the house. Chase the youngest kiddo around and find things to keep her occupied. My motivation is soaring.  But then somewhere towards the afternoon, I start feeling funny but can't put my finger on why. It's just an uneasy feeling. That feeling that something just isn't quite right. I'm able to mostly ignore it for a while and try to go about my day, but no matter what I do, I just can't seem to shake the feeling. Suddenly the feeling gets stronger and starts coming in waves, sometimes hours between each wave, sometimes minutes, sometimes only seconds. One after another, each wave hits, slowly building in intensity. My face gets warm. I can't catch my breath. I feel thousands of red hot pins and needles spread throughout my body. It's then that I recognize what's going on. I think to myself :
"Ohhhh, hey there Mr Anxiety. It's been a while. Be a doll and take it easy on me this time?" 
But he's got other plans. 

I try to breathe my way through it, focusing on each breath, but it feels like I've got a fucking elephant sitting on my chest. Still, I try to breathe through it, but I'm fighting for each breath. My hands start to go numb which only makes me panic more. My hands start shaking and I break out in sweats. I feel so hot yet I have the chills. I have to fight through a mosh pit of thoughts in my own mind just to find one good thought to focus on. This could go on for hours. When it starts to subside and I can breathe freely again, sometimes I realize that I'm rocking back and forth. Maybe a subconscious reaction to try and soothe myself? I still have a thousand things to get done, but I'm physically and mentally exhausted like I just went 10 rounds with the Terminator. All I can do is sit and zone out for a while in as quiet a space as I can find to try and reclaim my mind.

Other days, there is no warning. There is no uneasy feeling or gradual building of waves. It goes from zero to 60 in a matter of seconds. Rather than waves, it feels like I've been thrown into the ocean in the midst of a raging storm and am being tossed around. I feel like I'm hanging onto a tiny raft in that ocean and am quickly losing the little grip I have. These days are scary because I feel like a shell of myself.

It's kinda like I'm in my body, but yet I'm not. I feel detached from everything. I feel absolutely nothing and yet I feel everything, all at the same time. Sounds confusing, right?
Yeah, imagine feeling that!

There are days when it's simply a social thing. I'll go to a party or an event and walk into the crowded room and instantly be filled with dread. They're going to laugh at me. They think I look stupid. I hyper focus on everything. Why are they looking at me funny? She's giving me the stink eye. Why is he standing so close? Why is she whispering while looking at me? Every giggle I hear, I'm convinced is directed at me. Add to this the fact that I'm an Empath (and am usually being bombarded with other people's emotions), and that I was made fun of constantly while growing up (where people did constantly point at me and laugh, or talk about me, or call me awful names) and you have a recipe for a mental disaster.

Now, even scarier are the days that Mr Anxiety and Mr Depression decide to tag team me. Those are the days when everything hits me seconds after I wake up, before my feet even hit the floor. These are the days that shake me to my very core. As soon as I open my eyes, there's a terrible pit in my stomach. I'm filled with this sense of impending doom and it just grows and grows. I try to get up and start my day but I can't make my body function to get up. So I pull the covers over my head and stay in bed as long as possible. With kiddies, this isn't always possible so I somehow force myself to get up and make my way downstairs. Every single thing I do is forced and my mind is fighting me every step of the way: 

"Don't bother doing those dishes, they're just going to pile up again."

"Laundry? Screw that. You know you aren't going to put the clothes away and they're just  going to sit in the baskets." 

"Ohhhh you want to eat? Yeah, that's not going to happen.

"It doesn't matter what you do, you will never be good enough. You are nothing, do you understand? Nothing."


It feels like every step has me trudging through knee deep mud. Every step feels like slow motion yet my mind is in overdrive. It's maddening!!!! I feel like I've been dropped into this deep dark pit. It's so dark that I can't see, so deep that I can't reach the top to climb out, and I'm down here all alone. And I want to reach out but something stops me every time. I know that I have friends that I can call to try and help snap me out of it, but I don't want to burden them. Even tho they have told me a thousand times that it's never a burden and to please call them, I don't. I can't. I can't talk on the phone. I can't text. I can't form words- they just won't come. They're stuck in my throat. So I sit there and do the only thing I can do- cry. I cry HARD, sometimes deep guttural sobs, other times with no sound at all. I feel the most intense need to SCREAM as loud as I can. To scream from my very soul, but I can't get it out. So I swallow it back down. I have no motivation, no drive to do anything. I feel worthless. I feel like my entire existence is bullshit. I feel like not a single person gives a shit about me (even tho I know this is not true). I feel absolutely helpless.  It feels like my heart is shattering into a million pieces and scattering in the wind. It's so hard to put into words the depth of the despair I feel. I honestly don't think there are words that are strong enough to accurately describe it. This can last a day, a week, a month. Sometimes it lets up just long enough for me to see a ray of light and catch my breath before it pulls me back under.

And then one morning I'll wake up and can see the "light" and I feel- I hate this word, but-  "normal" again.

I've lost countless friends over the years because they just don't understand how I can be happy and positive most of the time and then suddenly SO dark and withdrawn. They don't understand why I don't call or text for weeks. Why I sometimes don't answer the phone when they try calling again and again. Why I don't come out and hang with them. Why I DID go out with them but bailed shortly after getting there...

I can't even begin to count how many times I've heard:

"Why didn't you just call me?"
(Because I couldn't.)


"What caused it this time??" 
(Most of the time I have no fucking clue!!)


"What's wrong with you?" 
(Nothing is wrong with me. It's just part of who I am.)

"So, it's an attention thing, right?"
(People that deal with this aren't seeking attention. Hell, for me, attention is the last thing I want. In fact, the more attention I get, the more embarrassed I feel.)

"What the fuck. I've tried calling and texting you twenty times and you never answered." 
(I'm sorry, I truly am. But heads up, when I'm having anxiety issues that actually adds to my anxiety.)

"Well, just fake it till you make it".
(Honey, I couldn't fake it if I tried)


"Why don't you smile? You'll feel better." 
(Believe me, I wish it was that simple!!!)

"You need a hobby to occupy your mind" 
(I HAVE hobbies. But sometimes in the moment, you can't think through it enough to remember to distract yourself with them.)

"They have pills for that, ya know.."
(Yeah, and they cost money that I don't have.)

"Don't focus on it. Just ignore it and it'll go away."
(No. There is no not focusing on it when I'm in that moment. And ignoring it and pretending it's not there just seems to make it worse. I don't need it worse, damn it.)


"I know you have issues, and I'm sorry, but I just don't know how to help you."
(It's ok that you don't understand. It's ok that you don't know how to help me. It really is, cuz sometimes I don't know how to help myself! But please, don't say it in a shitty condescending tone cuz I promise you, I'm beating myself up enough for both of us.)


Again, I can't speak for everyone, but for ME the best thing you can do is to give me my space when I need it, let me feel what I'm feeling while I try to work through it, but also let me know that you're there if I need you. Let me know that when I'm ready, your hand will be there to help pull me out of the abyss. I've gotten a few texts from friends with an inspirational feel good quote that has made me smile despite feeling so down. I may not always be able to bring myself to reply right away, but I can promise you, those texts have never gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

I have been blessed with three very special people in my life that somehow have the ability to pull me out of the abyss (when I let them in). I don't know how they do it, maybe it's a soul thing, or that they understand what it's like,  I don't know, but I will forever be grateful to and for them. Maybe one day I'll be able to reach out to them more easily/quickly. But, well, I already talked about that above. Hopefully by now you know who you are- and I've let you know often enough how much you mean to me. If not, you mean the world to me.

This was an incredibly long winded post and if you've read this far, you're a saint and deserve a prize. (I don't have a prize for you, but you deserve one. Lol) I'm not sure why, but I felt drawn to write this all down and put it out there. Maybe cuz I've been dealing with it and have a few friends that just don't understand. Maybe because I hear other people saying that they wish their friends understood. Whatever the reason, when you're friends with someone, you're supposed to take the good with the bad, right?  Hopefully this gives you an idea of what we deal with (and maybe what not to say). Cuz, ya know... The more you know...
4:10 AM / by / 2 Comments

2 comments:

  1. I know exactly how it feels....you can never shake it off and never run from it...it's something you got to work threw and hope it don't destroy when it's over.....����

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly!! I'm so sorry that you know the feeling. It definitely sucks. Sending lots of good vibes your way.

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