Out of nowhere, without warning–bam! You’re minding your own business, going about your day and, suddenly, you’re under attack. It’s terrifying, your heart races, throat closes-up, vision blurs. You think, “this must be it; I’m dying”.
I wasn’t dying. It was a panic attack. It was my first and not my last. I had my first one while driving on the highway. I went from singing a Rihanna song to sweating profusely; hyperventilating with my throat closing, arms going numb and not being able to breathe. I pulled over, and waited. Trying to take deep yoga breaths. There I sat, blasting the air-conditioning; praying it would pass. It did.
But, the thing about a panic attack is that from that point forward, the fear of another one, consumed my mind. The second I would feel a sensation that resembled the start of one, the attack was inevitable. This was my life. And, it actually got worse.
When my anxiety moved from isolated driving panic, to all of the time anxiety, over nothing in particular, over everything. I decided to take steps to help myself. I was desperate.
I did this because the alternative scared me more than the panic attacks. I was petrified of not being present for my family, for myself, for my friends.
I was lost in my anxiety and needed a way out. I tried cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, mindfulness, Xanax. But what I found was that these only brought me temporary relief and still added to my stress because each one required planning to find care for the kids and extra time allotted to add to my already packed schedule of responsibilities. The Xanax just zapped me of my energy. I didn’t like it.
So, I landed where I never thought I’d be. But, I have to be kind to myself and accept that this is where I am right now. It’s what I need to be present, enjoy life now, and function day-to-day without that forever heavy lump in my chest of worry. I am taking meds. There. I said it.
I was incredibly skeptical, fearful of the side effects, which did kick my ass and make me a nauseated zombie the first week. Then, it all lifted. That heavy, blinding, suffocating fog of anxiety–gone. Finally. Gone.
This was the best decision I have made for myself, for my loves ones, in a long time. I’ve freed myself from the self-loathing, from feeling like a failure for not being able to rely on my coping skills, to find my way out. I was in denial, as someone who never had this problem until age 35, that this was me.
I’m sharing this very personal experience in the event this blog hits home with one of my readers. To the person out there struggling, battling. To the person smiling on the outside, smiling in all of the Facebook pictures, but feeling fragile, agitated and broken on the inside. A Mom, a Dad, a friend, who, in reading this decides to see if it’ll help.
I am not in any way saying this is the fix for everyone. That it’ll fix everything. But, maybe it’ll make you pause, and stop being so hard on yourself.
That’s where I’m at. I’m back. I am here.