Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now on Display: Anxiety

Anxiety is a real thing for me. When an anxiety attack begins to unfold, I feel dizzy, my heart pounds, I feel like I might throw up, and most of the time my breathing becomes all too rapid and I hyperventilate. The earliest memory I have of anxiety attacks dates back to when I was about 8 years old. I think my parents called me "excitable"... No one ever really diagnosed it as "anxiety attacks" until I was an adult. Very few times in my life have I had anxiety attacks in front of other people. But recently, it happened...

One of my closefriends is a therapist and has been one of my confidants during some recent struggles. We were talking one night and TaDonn began asking me questions which really cut to the core of an issue I was having. I felt like they were hard questions and I didn’t want to evaluate myself as closely as he was trying to get me to. I felt dizzy all of a sudden, and my heart began to palpitate. I did not want to admit the things he was pointing out were correct. I actually picked up the pillow from his bed and covered my face and said something to the effect of “I don’t feel good. You’re making my head hurt.” I couldn’t focus at all on what he was even saying. I was not able to continue the discussion. All I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and tune the world out. My breathing became rapid and as he pulled the pillow from my face. I felt that his words were “fighting words” perhaps even a little critical. I suppose the truth hurts sometimes, and sometimes I "can't handle the truth!" He helped me direct my breathing and asked me if I often had anxiety attacks. I admitted I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was a child. Obviously the anxiety attack was the consequence of my unchecked emotions. Being a therapist, my friend was able to help me formulate a mental checklist to quiet the noise and steer back to the subject at hand.

Most of the time, my anxiety is managed; I am in control. However, there are times when something tiny will set it off, and it seems to worsen during pregnancy (which isn't a factor anymore) or at times when I am already stressed or extremely tired. It was weird to have an anxiety attack in front of someone. At first I didn't realize that it was even happening. I mean, I knew I felt dizzy, and obviously I knew I covered my face with the pillow to hide. But, I never realized MY ACTIONS IN REACTION to the anxiety until then. It was definitely a pivotal moment for me.

I had learned a long time ago, there are several "disorders" that fall under the same umbrella of "Anxiety". If I remember the pamphlet my Dr. gave me, it included things such as "anxiety attacks", "panic attacks", "depression", "OCD", and most "phobias". The Dr. also told me that most of these are hereditary and mostly affect women in the same family. It all made sense to me when she said that. I could link something to every woman in my family.

What about you? Does any of this resonate with you?

I thought this was shamefully funny: RatMonkey recently posted this on his FB wall, "What kind of mental patient would kill themselves? That's just crazy..." **snickers**


Devon said...


Social anxiety disorder treatment can be done through an emotional back up and physical treatments. Physical treatments are, however, preferred in the chronic cases. When symptoms become chronic depressive elements overpower. Treating anxiety can be done through medication and counseling sessions.

Alice in Wonderland said...

I went through a period in my life when I was afraid to go outdoors or be afraid to be on my own. But I had a brilliant doctor who explained everything to me, and that anxiety attacks or panic attacks do not kill you! Even when I was hyperventilating so much that I thought that I was going to pass out, she told me that even if I DID pass out, then my breathing would just go back to normal.
Now I always keep a paper-bag handy, but I can deal with them now, but it did take me a long time to get to where I am now.
You are not alone in this.

greenolive said...

I've only hyperventilated three times in my life. Twice it involved sports where I just got too worked up. So those were infront of teammates and coaches. Very embarrassing. For the most part I like to keep my life as boring as possible so I don't get too excited.

Puphigirl said...

Was it one of your posts, or was it an email that you sent to us sister with information about the relation of anxiety, OCD and depression? If you have a link you should post it.

Debbi said...

wierd, I'm having that today.
not 'there'... you know? Just wanting to crawl into bed and be done with today.


Ruthykins said...

well, i don't know the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack, but i get something. anytime i try to talk in front of a group i feel like i can't breathe and i cry and want to faint or run away. when i get into a pool or lake my chest tightens and i feel like i can't breathe. i really have to ease into it before i can swim. i also have phobias. obviously public speaking and water are phobias, but also heights, spiders, close spaces. also, i tend to be jumpy. people can scare me very easily. even tv shows scare me. does that make me paranoid?

Susie said...

I suffer from both depression and anxiety. I have learned that if you control your physical reaction to things (i.e. deep breathing, progressive relaxation, etc.), you can manage the disorder.

Tulsi said...

I've had anxiety pretty much my whole life. A doc I had once told me it was a product of my growing up environment. Which I believe, since I grew up walking on eggshells. I have some screwy reactors. Things have improved and rarely do I have a serious attack. I feel better and can even fight with the school if Steve isn't home (for LONG periods of time or I have him do it) but have such anxiety afterwards. If I stay in my house for long periods, such as sickness or just not needing to leave, I have a hard time doing it again. Even in a normal environment. Anxiety is a strange thing.