Let’s talk anxiety for a moment.
Growing up, the first obvious signs of me having ADD (that I can remember) began around age 7 and came in the form of anxiety (well that and my second-grade teacher nicknaming me ‘wild child’), though at the time I didn’t know that’s what it was.
As a young child, I was considered a tom boy and someone that was always active, never sitting still, dramatic, had a case of the middle-child syndrome, was sensitive & tender-hearted, easily excitable…the list goes on. The truth is, often times I was trying to escape my feelings and drown negative thoughts.
“Anxiety is a LIAR, although it feels incredibly real” ~Alivia Hall’s ‘This is What Anxiety Feels Like’, via The Huffington Post
Anxiety is unpredictable – one moment you’re quietly enjoying your Saturday morning cartoons and Lucky Charms and the next you’re in tears because you feel like you can’t catch your breath.
Anxiety is a constant, lingering feeling that something is wrong, but you have no clue why.
Anxiety is a voice telling you that something is wrong with you, that your worries are a burden to the people around you and that you should keep those concerns to yourself.
Anxiety is like an electric shock to the heart; on the worst of days a sudden thought or fear will hit you and feel like your heart has been hit by a ball of lightening and within that ball is a sudden release of all the emotions – fear, worry, urgency, danger, sadness, stress….
Anxiety is worry about all of the things you can’t control.
Anxiety causes insomnia – you find yourself lying in bed thinking about all of the things you need to do and unable to sleep because of them, despite being exhausted.
Anxiety is a joy killer – seriously, one day, or moment, you’re laughing, happy, elated….life is beautiful, then BAM! It hits you
So there are the daily struggles with anxiety (listed above) and then there are anxiety attacks. Everyone experiences anxiety attacks differently, but here’s what is typical for me:
I can feel it coming on but am typically left helpless to its effects. I start my morning feeling a heaviness and tightening in my chest. My mind is racing thinking about all of the things that must be accomplished that day which leads to an immediate worry about how I’ll get it all done, be able to give my son and my partner the one on one attention they deserve and I desperately want to give and still find time to sleep. It feels helpless, there’s no way to do everything and no way to properly prioritize.
By the time I’m in the car on my way to work, I find myself struggling to catch my breath. I know what’s happening and I’m doing my best to relax and breathe through it but by the time I make it to daycare drop-off, I’m near hyperventilation, light-headed and close to fainting. I get out of the car and have to hold on to the door as I force my body to recover from an eveloping darkness as everything starts to go black. I recover, stumble a bit and get my son out of the car and in daycare.
Once in the office and at my desk, I find some solace and distraction by turning my focus to work, which also helps ease the anxiety because I’m being productive, knocking out my to do list and running from meeting to meeting, but every moment of downtime reminds me that an Anxiety Attack is lingering and it’s a race against the clock to stop it.
The work day finally ends and I’m mentally exhausted from fighting this feeling the entire day. What would be helpful is the ability to just go home and crawl in bed, turn off the lights and hide from all physical stimulants, but I can’t. I’m mommy, and I still have to (and want to) prepare dinner, play, bedtime routines, snuggle and read books. I want to do these things like a normal person, but instead, because I can feel the attack getting closer and closer, it becomes a race against the clock to fit it all in and any unwanted distraction causes me to feel irritable and as hard as I try not to, I may become easily frustrated with my son for doing things 4-year-olds do that I’d normally let slide and not bother me, but when you feel like it’s only a matter of time before you have a full blown attack and you’re finally in bed with him and he’s asking for another snack, insisting he’s starving and asking for another book, and you’ve had to ask him now 3 times to put on his PJs…..it becomes too much.
And most days I can make it into bed before it happens, but sometimes I can’t and I find myself hiding in my closet, lights out, sobbing…..
Anxiety is irrational – you know there’s no reason for this to be happening and you even feel embarrassed by it but you can’t stop it. All you can do is ride it out. Allow yourself to cry all the tears, allow yourself to finally release all of the emotions from the day and then finally laugh at yourself afterwards because you know it was absurd but unavoidable and then life goes on as if the series of events from the day are just a bad dream and just like that, it’s over.
What is anxiety like for you?