When Anxiety Attacks, Part 1

Several years ago, we found a tick on the dog. It was gross and disgusting. Instead of having a normal, rational reaction to said parasite (shuddering, disgust, anger, any number of rational emotions), I remember what I did vividly.

I sat in the middle of my living room floor and had a full-blown panic attack. Hyperventilating. Unable to breathe. Crying hysterically. Shaking. Feeling like I should throw up. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t stop. Even as my husband and dog looked on, I got worse and worse.

I knew something had to change. This was not the first time I had experienced an anxiety attack. It wouldn’t be the last. But, it was the moment I remember finally thinking, once I was able to think again, that I needed help.

I went to the doctor. She listened patiently to my symptoms and fears. She quickly diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and put me on Lexapro. I started taking the anti-anxiety/anti-depressant that night.

For the next 16 months, I lived in a Lexapro-induced state of relative lack of panic. I stopped freaking out about everything. It wasn’t until I realized I had also stopped feeling pretty much everything that I discovered how much Lexapro had affected my life. I weaned off the drug. As much as I liked not feeling anxiety and panic, I missed feeling other things – like anger, fear and joy. Feeling too much was better than not feeling anything.

In the years since I stopped the Lexapro, my anxiety has been kept mostly in check by having honest conversations with myself, my husband, and my friends. It’s been learning to breathe through it and not let it bubble too hot, too fast or too long. It’s about being real with who I am. My friend Victoria encouraged me to start a prayer journal, and it has helped immensely.

But sometimes it’s hard.

It’s tick season again, and this year it’s bad. In addition to the normal disgust, I find my anxiety sitting right on the edge, waiting to push me into that chasm again-that dark place where the world is too scary and too much. The logical part of my brain that knows these aren’t big deals is at war with the anxious side of my brain. I need to process and this is my best place to do so.

So, I’m getting honest with my blog and writing about my anxiety. It may take a few blogs to work it all out. But, if you’ve ever been around me, you know that words on paper come way easier than words face-to-face.

So, join me as I talk frankly about my anxiety and how I’ve learned to live through it.

Tomorrow I’ll post the things not to say to someone with anxiety.

Wednesday I’ll post the things that have helped me.

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5 Comments

  1. Hugs to you Emily. I too deal with anxiety attacks and have for many years. The one time they tried to treat me they put me on Depakote which is horrible and made me unable to function. That did not last long. Crowds freaked me out. Criticism freaked me out. Getting on stage freaked me out. When I am under stress and get sleep deprived it gets worse. What I find that helps me is sleep so I use zquill if brain doesnt stop. Recognizing and acknowledging that it is happening. Had a public one in class the other day, haven’t done that in years. I wake up daily in panic racing geat mode. I put the middle finger of right hand on my chin and middle of left over my beating heart and take deep breath and slowly let it out and my heart goes back to normal. I also have found SAM-e and Bach Rapid Relief spray help a lot. I now give speeches and act on stage without fright, I can be in crowds and I was complimented as someone who accepts criticism very well. I don’t like ticks and moths will make me wreck a car, I let Prince deal with those.

  2. Shame cannot survive being spoken. Way to go, Emily! I’m walking right with you as the logical part battles the anxious part. Let’s put both in their rightful places.

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