It hit me from out of the blue and knocked me for a six. The shortness of breath, the shaking, the tears, the agitation. I’m not a stranger to anxiety, but I really thought I had it under control, I really thought that I would be able to fend off another attack, obviously I thought wrong.
It came on so strong and so sudden that if I had been breathing at the time, it would have taken my breath away. There was no warning, no preparation. One minute I was fine, the next I was in a full blown attack. I had even been having a good day and then “BAM” I was a whimpering, quivering mess.
I hate that feeling, the feeling of being completely out of control of my emotions and my physical reactions. It is the reason I don’t get drunk. The very few times I have been under the influence, I hated every minute of it. I like to have control of my surroundings, or at least, my own mind and body. But anxiety rips that control away from me and I become completely enslaved by the rioting emotions within me.
My initial reaction was to run away, but I couldn’t leave. I wanted to hide the attack from my son and my husband because I knew that they would worry about me. Our lives have been in such turmoil over the last few months and I didn’t want to burden them, especially my son who has had more heartbreak than any 21 year old should have.
There was no where that I could run that would get me out of the situation that I was in. There was no clear and present danger that my body was responding to, no physically apparent threat that could justify the intense adrenaline reaction that I was having. Running would have served no purpose, and yet, that is what my body and mind demanded.
I felt in that moment like I was separated from my body. I could see what was happening to me and the logical, practical side of my brain just looked on in disgust as the emotional, reactive side of my brain turned to mush. The logical me told me to “snap out of it” and “get control of yourself” while the emotional me was helpless. Like a deer in headlights, the emotional side of me could not move, could not react rationally. To that part of my brain, I was in immediate danger and my body’s response was to pump adrenaline into my system so that I could flee. But you can’t run from what is in your mind, you can’t escape what isn’t really there.
I was helpless in the face of my anxiety. I could do nothing but let it run its course. My son held me and told me everything would be ok, my husband tried to fix what was wrong and to put me in a safe space. And it felt so wrong. It felt like I was letting them down for being weak minded. They sent me home to bed and I felt so ashamed. I had allowed this waste of emotion to derail me and it had an effect on not just me but my family as well.
I don’t like this person that I have become. I don’t like this feeble minded, fear filled, anxiety ridden person. Every day it feels like I am walking on a tightrope across a bottomless canyon and if I sway just a little to far to one side then I will lose my footing and plummet into the abyss below me. That’s what happened, I fell and I fell hard. Even today the after affects plague me – there is a slight tremor in my hands, my breaths are short and I feel like there are tears just under the surface waiting for the slightest provocation. If I even think about the situation that triggered the attack, I know it will hit again. It is a hell of a way to live.
I have spent years on my self improvement. It was shown to me very early in my twenties that if I wanted to have a happy and fulfilled life, I would need to overcome the baggage that I carried around. It doesn’t matter how great your upbringing was, everyone of us carries baggage that we need to master. I have had bouts of depression on and off throughout my teenage years and then more often in my twenties. I remember one day just wishing that I could feel happiness. I had a wonderful and supportive husband, two beautiful young boys, a nice house to live in and a job, but I always seemed to have this underlying unhappiness. It hit me that day that my happiness was something I had to actively pursue, it wasn’t just going to land in my lap. I knew I had a choice – allow my emotions to rule my life or retrain myself to respond to emotions rationally. It took years and lots of soul searching, but it made me strong. Now I feel that I am back at square one. I am once again a slave to my emotions…and I hate it.
After all the work I’ve done and the hurts I’ve worked through and the setbacks I’ve had, I am once again the weak, emotionally ravaged, victim that I worked so hard to overcome. I don’t want to be this person, but I seem to be incapable of being anything else. For years I have been the strong one, the rational one. I haven’t been perfect, no one is, but I had thought that I had left behind the timid, insecure girl that I once was. Now I find that she has been hiding away inside of me just waiting to extract her revenge on me. And at this point, I am defenceless against her attacks.