I got used to my anxiety.
Comfortable in a way.
Like an old acquaintance who was pretty irritating but you know how to sweet talk them into leaving you the hell alone.
I knew how to deal with it, my coping strategies were solid, I knew my triggers, I knew how it worked and that in itself was a comfort. I like knowing, I like control.
So last week when my anxiety presented itself in a completely different way, I was terrified, a type of fear that I hadn’t experienced in years. There was a panic from the depths of my soul mixed with disassociation and the reality of the world had escaped from me, believing that I had genuinely lost the plot and my mind was giving up on me. There were no grounding techniques that would soothe the panic I was forced to face, there were no yoga poses or herbal teas to bring my racing mind back to the present. If you can forgive me for being dramatic, I really thought I was going to die.
I paced around my flat, willing real life to come back to me, struggling to breathe, convinced my brain was about to explode and that my body was giving up.
I tried showering, in hope of bringing myself back.
I tried sipping water to remind my body that it was still in reality.
I tried thinking of people to call, of somewhere to go, I have amazing friends and family that are always there, but my mind was reeling and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to explain the terror I was plagued by.
In the end all I could do was get dressed and stumble to work an hour early just so I could be reassured by a familiar face that I wasn’t going (for want of a better word) crazy.
I spent the days after that episode terrified of being home alone, convinced it would happen again and that this time it would be worse and even now I can feel a flutter of worry when I think about spending time by myself.
I’ve done a lot of work on myself, a lot of work on letting go of pains from my past and my present, I guess you can work through difficult times and then, occasionally, they will resurface in a different way, looking new but there’s a familiarity to it, and so it becomes a brand new challenge.
Moving through these challenges isn’t supposed to be easy and it doesn’t have to happen all at once.
It’s not going to be glamorous.
It’s not going to feel safe.
and that’s okay.
Maybe at the beginning it feels like you’re losing something, maybe it feels like you’re losing your mind. But perhaps what you’re losing are the pains that have manifested along the way.
The things we leave behind don’t have to be viewed as a loss, like a small child letting go of a balloon. Maybe letting go can be viewed as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. a slow transformation, breaking free, creating space. Painful and scary but a choice to grow and a choice to no longer carry the things that are crushing you down.
My Anxiety has morphed into something I don’t recognise, a new face added to my journey and I can now see it’s okay. I might still be scared, I might still struggle but it’s important to nourish your wisdom and realise that these challenges are just that. Sometimes we have to sit with the discomfort, learn from it, listen to it and I think that’s the hardest part.
Sure I’ve had panic attacks before, they’ve been part of my life for a while; racing thoughts, shallow breathing, blood rushing and a numbness that takes over the whole body, you know? Pretty standard stuff in the grand scheme of things.