I'm struggling. I shouldn't be but I am. Is it possible that anxiety is a living organism? If this is my brain causing all this commotion, why can't it focus on solving world problems instead of traumatizing me?! I have been working on accepting and acknowledging with the help of a brilliant therapist (ok she's my daughter and not a therapist, but should be). But it's like the anxiety refuses to back down. It is like it is waiting for me to go to my doctor, meet with my care team for them to give me the lecture on accepting and acknowledging the anxiety. Everything is compounding. My body hurts, I have ringing in my ears 24/7 and nothing I do makes it better, my right eye won't focus, and I have headaches daily. I can't stay awake for more than a few hours and I have no bouncy morning energy as I have had in the past. Who am I kidding, I have no energy at all. I'm overly sensitive to everything anyone says and feel that good old out of control apple cart feeling. Everything is heightened. And not in a good way. I'm overwhelmed and I just want to crawl in my special corner of my closet, under my long dresses and sit in silence. Only there is no silence. Just non-stop ringing in my ears.
So I had an anxiety attack on Monday. Such is the case with me, there was really no trigger that I am aware of. Sure a few things could have aided in pushing me to the ledge, but no ONE thing I can put my finger on.
I spent the morning struggling to keep myself from falling off the ledge and in retrospect I seriously wonder if the struggle was worth it. I reached out to one of my pillars (my eldest daughter who has the unfortunate inherited gene of anxiety disorder but the wherewithal to understand the disorder far better than I do). By midday, I felt I was under control again, although I was exhausted. I finished my day at work, and went home.
The next morning I continued listening to my lectures on mindfulness and understanding how to have compassion for one’s self and the egocentric effects of perfectionism. (Both hitting home as I am overflowing with compassion for others and next to none for myself while all the time beating myself up for never being good enough). I turned it off as I began to feel weepy. It was shortly after that that I first heard of the senseless terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in the U.K. That was it… I was overwhelmed with sadness and darkness. How can anyone want to live in his hate-filled world. This was not an anxiety attack anymore, it was the deep dark pit of depression hell. The post-anxiety reality.
For days, I couldn’t muster enthusiasm. I wanted to sleep all the time and as a matter of fact, I would become so overwhelmed with exhaustion, my eyes would not stay open. My brain felt like it was scrambled. The sensation was something like I have never experienced. It was like my head was a watermelon and the pulp, my brain, had been scooped out, puréed and poured back in. If I sneezed or coughed, it literally felt sloshy. Oh and the inability to form sentences. Well I could form them in my head, but the words got caught in my teeth. Simple everyday functions like remembering to turn off the water or how to use my computer mouse were difficult. Colors were dulled. Tastes were bland. I had tightness in my chest and arm.
Why do I feel the need to blog about this…well, now that I know what I have I am forever on a quest to understand it. I took “mindful” notice of the after-effects of the anxiety. To quote the lecturer, I allowed the feelings to “arise and fall away” – although that didn’t happen in a matter of seconds, minutes or even hours. This feelings hung around until Friday. First my power to speak returned, then my focus and concentration (I regained the power to move my mouse), and then finally the exhaustion faded.
Recognizing these post-anxiety musings does not make the fear of future anxiety attacks any less, nor does it make me feel like the next one will be any easier. I still find it hard to find brightness or goodness in this world. I know it is there and I know I will find it again.
Before therapy, when they “tested” antidepressants on me because I cried a lot and had no friends, I didn’t fully appreciate this “disease”. It was another one of those labels you slap on a condition you can’t identify and send them away with happy pills. Needless to say, with that attitude and lack of moral support, the pills were useless. Doses were increased at record speed and their effect was minimal at best.
Then, I sought counseling. All I really gained in therapy was (a) reassurance that I was not the only one who deals with the anxiety/depression; (b) I’m never good enough for myself; (c) the counselor was never going to tell me what to do but rather make me figure it out; and (d) I probably really need meds. These are not necessarily negative. Especially the “I’m not alone” reassurance because I am really out there sometimes.
Anyway, I’ve previously blogged that blah, blah, I didn’t want meds, I could handle it, blah, blah, overwhelmed, doctor insisted and BAM!! I’m “human” again.
Here is my struggle: pre-med and therapy, I would feel the apple cart starting to go and I would fight it something fierce. The bouts seemed so very long…months even. The fall into that pit of hell was so long. And yes, I was there longer with no visual on the light at the other end.
But now that I have acknowledged the issue, accepted I need help and support, there really isn’t any time to fight it. I have maybe one day of “uh oh there goes the apple cart” and the next day I’m in the closet under my dresses trying to quiet the world. The air still hurts my skin, the noises are still overwhelming. There really isn’t any time, I feel, to right my apple cart, so to speak – not that I have EVER been able to right it before falling. I hate it here (who doesn’t) and I know it will pass, but I thought these episode were supposed to stop. Was that wrong?
And I do know the triggers now. Only they seem to be simultaneous with the overturned apple cart.
To be honest, I seem to handle being down here better and that’s a super improvement, but I guess I wanted to reach out to the blogisphere so that I don’t have to ask my doctor. While I have accepted the need for help, I’m still not fond of pills and I’d like to avoid the “increase the dose” conversation.
How can I get a grip on the slip into this dark place? How do I get out? Do I just need to accept that even with meds and support, I’m going to constantly go through these cycles of ups and downs? Ugh. I feel stupid…being here…I’m bigger than this “disease”.