That moment when all your muscles seize and your brain goes numb. Your lungs don’t seem to work on their own so you’re gasping for air. Gasping so hard it sounds like a call for help. But, of course, calling for help now is pointless. What can anyone do when your body is under attack from some invisible weight wrapped around your windpipe?
Your throat burns and your eyes are closed; trying to block out your senses. Well intentioned people say, “Calm down. Everything will be fine.” Words that only make your head pound harder, your heart beat faster.
Coughing as if you have a sudden case of tuberculosis and feeling fire in your esophagus. Your stomach clenches. Your forehead beaded with sweat; hot and cold, all at once. Wrecked and disabled with tears streaming down your cheeks. You choke on the salt and wipe the snot from your nose. Death grip on anything stable as your body heaves, waiting for the moment to pass.
If you don’t suffer from a disorder such as anxiety or depression, you may have never experienced what I described in the onset of this post. However, whether you can relate to that type of struggle or not, this article is for you. Perhaps, if this is a problem that doesn’t afflict you, you know someone who suffers from these emotions/thoughts.
I felt like it was about time I opened up about my mental health. Maybe it’ll show up a little bit at a time on the blog but, some honesty is better than none, right? And if my experiences can help encourage even one of you, then it was worth writing.
Overwhelming anxiety is, unfortunately, only one of the psychological challenges I face; like so many others. What you read in the beginning of this post was my personal encounter with overwhelming panic. Nearly the same almost every time, though the severity varies.
There are some of you who may react very similarly and others who have more extreme reactions; to a lesser or greater degree. I have different social triggers, emotional stresses, and general circumstances I’m still learning about that can affect the extent of my response. Sometimes I’m able to fight through with less effort and, at other times, I feel as though I’m staring down a lion. Often times, the lion attacks and I lose what control I thought I had over him.
It took me almost a week to write this post because I’m so self-conscious and like to keep any large drawbacks I have to myself. I feel like if people know my disquieting thoughts, or see my troubles overtake me in distress, that it will make them uneasy, judgmental, and I’ll be more inclined to the life of a hermit than I am now. (Only partially kidding about the hermit thing. Haha)
There have been times that I have been induced by something as simple as frustration with the straps on my son’s car seat. Yet, there have been some times when I’ve been through horrible, nerve-racking months and handled everything with poise that can’t be explained. The probably the worst thing about anxiety… It isn’t predictable, no matter how much you try to anticipate it. And, my obsessive compulsive disorder often couples with my restlessness for an extra helping of torment.
Anxiety affects so many aspects of life. One that it influences the most of me is my sleeping pattern. Most of my problem with insomnia can be attributed to the tension and worry of constant anxiety and stress. So much so that I take two medications to help me shut down my mind and get a decent night’s sleep. Even then, the majority of the time, I’m surviving on an average of 5 or 6 hours a night. (Pills can only do so much, people.)
During the hours of unrest that I lie in bed, staring into the dark, I wonder how my mental wellness impacts my kids. Will it be passed on to them genetically? Will they simply start copying my habits and inflict anxiety upon themselves without intention? Am I the best mom I could be, or am I failing them because of my struggle? And I ponder how others view my mothering once they know about my inner controversy. Do they observe and criticize me more harshly? I convince myself that I am probably looked at as “crazy” for expanding my family to its size because, how could I possibly appear that I’m giving them my best effort if I’m under constant duress?
Question after question piles up and burdens my mind. And due to that, I’ve spent too much time in my life either trying to please others or pushing them away. But, the truth is that every day, month, year, and person in my life will require a different part of me. A child, my husband, my friends, and myself…
Though I daily carry these thoughts and trials, I try to remember that the heavier the weights the stronger the warrior. There can be no advancement without straining past what we already know. There can be no triumph if we don’t first know what losing feels like.
I read not long ago, “Champions are made from something they have deep inside. A desire. A dream. A vision.” In the end, I’m determined, no matter how hard the days (or nights) to come out from under the pressures of my anxiety and be victorious. That doesn’t mean I won’t have hard times, I know. Unforeseen circumstances come upon us all. But, to succumb and be crushed by what anchors me to my fears would be a defeat. Not only for me but, for those I am motivated by to keep moving forward.
If you made it to the end of this post then, I applaud you. Please know that if you can identify with ANY of these feelings, you aren’t alone. I am right there with you. In the fight against anxiety, depression, invisible illness, insomnia, OCD…, etc. I’m there doing adult coloring books for serenity, acknowledgement workbooks, journaling for organization, list making for sanity. (I’ll put my faves below.)
- Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book- Johanna Basford
- How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad) – Lee Crutchley
- I’m So Freaking Freaked Out, Truth Journal- Knock Knock
- Brown Leather Medieval Wrap Journal w/ Tie- Cavallini
- To-Do Notepad- Knock Knock
- Mental Notes Sticky Note Pad- Knock Knock
Thank you so much for reading and letting me share a little bit of my vulnerability with you! If you have questions, comments, experiences…etc., please, please, please leave them in the section below. I’d love to hear other perspectives on what I’ve discussed here.
Happy Monday! Love to you all.