Updated: Aug 16, 2019
I try hard to be a positive person. MOST of the time I do pretty well staying positive and living a positive life; which is very challenging sometimes considering the world we live in today!
But, I am writing this today to let you know that sometimes it's OK to not be 'OK'. Someone who has struggled with anxiety & panic disorder for most of her life has had many moments of "not-ok-ness". (Yeah, I made this word up.)
There is such a stigma against anxiety and panic that I have only really started talking about it publicly within the last 5 years. At first I was embarrassed. If people knew about my disorder, I'd be viewed as weak and I wasn't having that! But, over time I got the courage to openly speak about it as I saw it was helping others who were suffering my same fate.
My anxiety, over the years, has been mostly silent. You wouldn't even notice a change on the outside of my person, but sometimes I'm honestly so anxious I can't even manage simple tasks. People have called me lazy or unfocused, when the reality is, I’m just overwhelmed. It feels like I am trying to hold together 50,000 puzzle pieces with no hands.
I get nervous about everything. Sometimes I literally don't know why I'm anxious. I just am and no-one seems to understand that. Sometimes outside factors persuade the edginess to come forth; this is a normal part of life, we are human, when bad things happen we are supposed to feel the things.... the rest of the nonsense, not so much. It is what it is; it's nonsense that can't be explained in the moment that it's happening. All the anxiety brain knows at that moment is overwhelming fear.
Sometimes my anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but my need for wanting to control it. It's not rational thinking by any means, but it is what anxiety brains do. There’s just so much going on in my mind, that sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s going on around me.
Anxiety makes you sit there and overthink everything in your life. At times it makes you think people in your life are leaving you. You begin to feel abandoned, and not worthy of anything good. You begin to feel unloved; like your existence doesn't even matter. The fact that many people around you don’t even recognize or have the patience for your illness only makes everything worse.
The thing about an anxiety disorder is that you KNOW deep down what you are thinking is stupid. You know it with all your heart & soul that what you are thinking is irrational and that it should just roll off you.
No big deal, right? Wrong.
That is where the disorder kicks in. Suddenly the small things are very big things, and it keeps growing in your head, overflowing into your chest, and then trying to escape from under your skin. Before you know it, every cell is alive and screaming. You know with all your heart that you’re being ridiculous, and you hate every minute of feeling this way, but it assaults you once again as quick as a cobra strike.
You wish at that very moment you could shed off your skin and leave it behind just so you couldn't feel that feeling any longer. Anything would feel better at that moment than feeling what you are feeling.
Anxiety is terrible, you could be having an attack, and no one would even know or notice. It's not always about breathing heavy, shaking or crying. It can be an inward thing. It feels like your brain is malfunctioning and you can't process your own thoughts.
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it manifests and cuts a gash into which all other thoughts are drained and voided. The only thing that is felt is absolute dread. The sensation of losing control over your own body is unbearable. It only encourages the panic to rise even more. Every cell feeling like it's being seized and choked out.
It's not wanting to live anymore, but afraid to die. It's feeling detached from reality but knowing you are IN reality.
It's a knot in your stomach and the feeling you can't take a full breath of air, you feel as if you are drowning but there is no water to be found. It's the feeling of your skin being overly sensitive, a feeling like every nerve in your body is on fire. You long for someone to help you, but recoil at their touch.
Outwardly you can literally just sit there and look completely normal, as long as no one tries to speak to you. Sometimes people think I'm a bitch or I’m irritated, but reality is, I am internally struggling and trying to hold my shit together, so I don't completely lose myself in the darkness that is trying to engulf me and snuff my light out.
I have had people say to me, “Laurie, it’s all in your head, get over it.” Do you honestly think I WANT to feel this way? If I had a choice, I would NEVER feel these feelings again.
Just because I can't explain the feelings causing my anxiety, doesn't make them less valid. Just as someone not understanding those feelings makes them less valid. The mental and physical occurrences during a panic attack episode are tremendously real and unfortunately those feelings of panic usually end up fueling the already growing fire.
Most people can’t even begin to realize the strength it takes to pull yourself out of an anxiety attack. Anxiety is one of the most silent, painful experiences you could have. It makes no sense and most of the time you end up sitting alone and suffering for unknown reasons.
Most people don’t understand it or get annoyed with it. I have learned over the years, that, THAT isn't my issue to deal with. I have my own panic issues to deal with without adding feelings of worry that I am annoying someone with it.
Over the years I have utilized many tools to help me cope with my anxiety and panic disorder. From prescription medications to meditation. Most of the time [now] I can control it and ease my panic's ugliness back into submission. Sometimes I can’t push it down and it washes over me like a tsunami. I have learned on these occasions to embrace the glorious mess I have become. It’s OK to not be OK!
You can't always stop the waves, but you can learn to surf them.
I will add I am not suicidal. I am fine. Really...I am. I struggle with a mental disorder called GAD and Panic Disorder. I write about it for a few reasons; it's therapeutic for me and if someone reads this who is struggling, they may feel better knowing they aren't going through this alone and that they aren't crazy.