When I was twenty-two, I was diagnosed with general anxiety with periodic panic attacks.
Anxiety and panic, for me, are two different things. Panic attacks hit me in my head first, causing dizziness, followed by quickened heart rate, some perspiring, fear, and the like. With anxiety, it starts in the chest and causes helplessness, an impending sense of doom, as well as quickened heart rate.
Everyone who suffers from anxiety or panic attacks may share in some of the symptoms, but experiences them a bit differently and also has different triggers that set them off.
Mine is TIME.
I remember in my early twenties explaining this visual of my trigger of time as a rodent running on a wheel, getting nowhere while time and the world churned ahead without me. I desperately wanted to catch up but was helpless to in the moments of panic attacks.
When I had my first panic attack at age twenty, it felt like my head was going to spin right off my body, my heart raced, and I feared loss of mind and control. And as panic sufferers know, we become worried about it happening again, which perpetuates the panic feelings.
Eventually, after having a handful of full-blown panic attacks, I learned to be aware of when one was coming on, and talking to myself (in my head, not out loud) about it in a reasonable manner.
At that time in my early twenties, for four years, I was on an anti-anxiety medication for my anxiety and a tranquilizer for panic attacks. Both medications did the job of curbing my anxiety and panic attacks. After getting off the medication, my system seemed improved.
Since this time (over twenty years ago), I’ve faired pretty well, but since the onslaught of peri-menopause, my anxiety and panic attacks have been kicked up a notch, causing some disruption in my life.
At the end of June, I did some stupid things because of my anxiety, like mistakenly canceling my debit card.
I looked over my husband’s and my checking account and discovered a debit card purchase for a DVD from an unknown company. Worried and panic-stricken thinking somebody had gotten my card number, I went online and disputed the purchase. Immediately after I did that, my card was canceled.
It was at that moment I remembered the amount of the purchase and realized I did purchase this DVD. It was just that the company name didn’t match the place I ordered from.
Peri-menopausal fog brain mixed with anxiety is a recipe for chaos.
I called the bank the next day, and a new card was sent out for two-day delivery.
If I’d just waited and thought calmly for about five more minutes, I’m positive I would have remembered the amount and the place from which I purchased the DVD.
This was the day Whole Foods opened in my area, and I wanted to be there for the opening (I know, that alone is nuts). Obviously I didn’t have my debit card, but I did have my checkbook. That was a mistake because they didn’t take checks, so I had to run home and fetch my credit card that I’ve been desperately trying to pay down.
I could have just waited until the next day when my new debit card arrived and gone to Whole Foods then and not gone through all of this. But NO, I was anxious to go RIGHT NOW! If I didn’t go then, think of all the things I’d miss seeing on Opening Day!
Every time my anxiety hits, I become impatient and pushy. After the incident, I’d hate my actions and how I irritated my family members. Imagine this anxious impatience…it feels like a tornado of confusion, frustration, fear, and anger sweeping through you. At least it does for me.
After experiencing this impatience three days in a row, I broke down in tears of frustration and anger, really strongly disliking myself for my stupid actions and idiocy.
Where did my brain go?
The next few days and weeks I sat analyzing my actions and behavior. I finally saw this pattern of impatience and that it was actually tied to my anxiety.
It only took me 28 years to figure this out.
In any case, this was a breakthrough for me, a relief. I’d finally figured out what I was doing and why I was doing it.
But how was I going to stop doing it?
Anxiety pounces on me unexpectedly a lot of the time. The behavior and havoc almost always play out before I am aware of it.
Friends who suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks, how do you experience them? How do you deal with them?
Being a person who tries to follow Christ, making an effort to be Christ-like daily, even though I fail most of the time, my anxiety causes me to forget to ask Him for help when I’m going through this. Too many times, I try to control these attacks all on my own.
This is the crux of my problem.
But I suppose I had to discover what I was doing before I could reach this point.
So, now that I know this, I am making the effort and becoming more aware to ask God to help me through these instances of impatience and anxiety.
I’m not really a fan of praying for patience, because…well…then your patience is tested, and I fail 99% of the time.
In reality, it’s through those tests of my patience, that I am provided the chances to be patient and make it become more of a habit, and therefore, become more of who I want to be, which is a better, calmer, loving person with a closer relationship to Christ.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been able to apply patience to at least three occasions, by talking to myself, as a type of mental coach, and through God’s help.
Here’s to a new path toward a less anxiety-ridden life.