I've always been someone most would consider high strung. Meaning, I'm easily excitable, a little nervous and sensitive at times. I've always been nervous of things like job interviews, meeting people for the first time and making a good impression. I feel like everyone deals with this kind of nervous stress, so this was never something I worried about a lot. Don't get me wrong, I could stress with the best of them, but I always found talking it out, or even just taking time away from the stressor would help quickly. What happened this time, is not like anything I'd ever experienced before.
Two weeks ago I suffered a pretty severe anxiety attack at work. I kind of just snapped and had a big old fashioned meltdown (Now, I do not want to get into the stressors that both my doctor and myself know caused me to sort of trip and fall over the edge of "high strung" to anxiety). I felt like I was having a heart attack. There was a tightness on my chest that I couldn't shake, I couldn't breathe deeply and I could not stop crying and shaking. I felt like a failure, like everything I had done to that moment wasn't good enough, that nothing I could do would make the situation better. For lack of better words, I felt like I was drowning. I just felt like I couldn't keep my head above water.
I had to call my mom to pick me up, because I knew I couldn't continue on. I couldn't think straight, my mind was racing a mile a minute and all I could think about was what had happened, what had been happening all week and more importantly, what was going to happen because of what had just gone down.
Nothing I could do would calm my nervousness, the pain in my chest or stop me from crying. Now, I want you to know, I am NOT a crier. But this month, I had cried nearly everyday. Little did I know at the time, that the "stress" I was feeling was closer to anxiety attacks.
I went to the emergency room (because my family doctor's after hours clinic was closed Fridays for him to do his rotation in the ER). My heart rate was over 100bpm for a long period of time, so they put me into a quiet room to calm down and relax while I waited for the doctor on call.
THANKFULLY, they sent in my own family doctor to talk to me. I think this made explaining the situation a lot more comfortable for me. I cried a lot more, I shook and I discussed with him how I felt about the environment I was in, and how it made me feel. We agreed the best course of action (FOR ME) was to pull me out of the situations that had sent me spiralling into anxiety attacks.
We also reached the conclusion together that I should try some anti-anxiety medication to help balance me back out. I'm not usually a person that accepts prescriptions for medication. I don't necessarily agree with putting things into my body that could do harm in the long term, but at this point in my life, feeling as desperately lost and, for lack of better term out of control of my own thoughts, I accepted.
It's been a week and 2 days since I left work. Every day has been a struggle. I haven't been able to sleep, I found the medication I was put on would help more for an immediate attack and not necessarily support me in more of a constant balance. I made another appointment to meet with my doctor (which he told me to do so we could see how I was making out after my initial visit) and we decided to change the medication to another anti-anxiety pill, but one that is more slow acting, so it lasts longer in helping to balance my nerves. I'm finding already, 2 days in, they are helping me feel a little more like myself, a person I've missed for over a month.
Dealing with friends and family is another hurdle I'm trying to gracefully tackle. So many people have been asking me how I feel and offering their advice on how I can "get over it". Everything from the looks people are giving me, to the simple "don't think about it" causes more stress for me. It's hard to turn your brain off, no matter how much you know what you're thinking isn't rational. I know everyone is trying to offer support from the outside, but really, if you haven't been plagued with these irrational thoughts all the time, it's so hard to understand. It's like I'm constantly battling my own brain to maintain some sense of normal.
I've always been a huge supporter of mental health issues because they can and do affect so many more people than you think. Your neighbour, the one smiling brightly and cheerfully, they could be suffering inside and hiding it. Your boss could be suffering, and that could be why they're a little harder on you. Your mom, your brother, your father, your sister - Anxiety isn't a death sentence, but to someone suffering it can feel like it. Please remember to try to offer support without simply dismissing how they feel.
You can help someone suffering with anxiety just by being there. Listening to them talk, because even though they're worried about things you know to be not true (they are aware their fears are irrational too, but they just can't control the way their brain handles this), just listen, support them when they're having a good day, support them even more when they're not. Try not to constantly talk about their anxiety, often that little bit of normality can help them feel closer to calm. At the same time, try not to get upset with them if they're having a particularly bad day. Try not to let their anxieties pull you in as well, because you need to protect your mental health as well as support theirs.
Lastly, I wanted to share this video of Kristen Bell talking about her struggle with anxiety and depression. Often times people can suffer from both, which makes their struggle even harder for them to deal with. Anxiety and Depression can and do happen to everyone, don't feel alone or "crazy". You're you and you're allowed to feel how you do. Just know there are many people out there suffering from the same things and we are just a few key clicks away for support.
Have a good day my lovelies.