This is a post that I am both reluctant and slightly embarrassed to write. But in the name of full disclosure and honesty and in the hopes that it can help others that may be in the same situation–here I go…
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years. And while I love the spirit of the fall and winter Holidays, they do seem to tip me right over the edge from pleasure to despair.
This weekend, which suitably was the darkest of the year (!), I suffered from my second panic attack this month. I only get them maybe once or twice a year. But this year has been so jammed full of twists and turns, most of which I have not been able to fully process while they have been happening–I suppose in hindsight that it was bound to come out somehow.
My panic attacks usually are in the works for weeks, though I don’t realize it at the time. In retrospect, it allllllll makes sense and I should have seen it coming a mile away.
What is so upsetting about them is that they have a sudden onset. I usually feel a winding up feeling throughout the day. This late in the game, I can recognize at least that I am in a state of elevated anxiety. But the actual attack is sudden. Without warning.
It happens in a whoosh of adrenaline. That is relentless. I don’t have the hyperventilation that many have. But I am in such a state of terror. Which my “true self” knows is false and of my own minds’ creation. But the sensation is purely physical. I don’t feel exactly like I am dying, or having a heart attack. Or the other descriptions that I have heard of the phenomenon.
It is more that my body is in utter Fight. Flight. And it is violent and lasts for hours. Vomiting and worse. And it just does not let up.
It takes days for this feeling of physical vigilance to subside.
I think perhaps the worst part in all of this, is that I feel completely alone. It is a state that no one can talk me through. It is a slow process of coming back to the surface from the edge. It takes me days to be able to eat solid food. It takes prompting to get me out and about and to do the things that I need to.
Yes. I take medication for this condition. Yes. I have support and have had oodles of therapy.
No. This condition does not define or restrict me.
It is a silent thief, though. And I must realize that it is one that may never leave my side.
And it won’t kill me. It is just one of those things.
If you have read this far, please accept my thanks for your dilligence and understanding. I hope that you know that my “true” self (and social self) strives for more happiness and joy in life than this. That this is not “who I really am.”
I think it is important, however, in the name of truly understanding each other and being able to be brave enough to expose this side of me–that it might help. Especially if you are having a bit of a dark winter, too. I know it can be difficult in so many ways.
It does get better. The sun does shine.