When anxiety attacks

I had a full fledged anxiety attack the other night.

A drunken, crying on the floor of the shower level anxiety attack.

In the process, I made someone I care about feel like shit. I’ve apologized to this person several times, but I will again. I’m sorry sometimes I lose my shit (for no apparent reason), but thank you for dealing with me. Thank you for listening to me rant and letting me sleep it off and still wrapping me in a giant bear hug and staying up until 2 a.m. talking to me about everything under the sun.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It used to be much worse. As much as I needed someone there for me the other night, I knew I would be okay. I used to cling to Christopher. I would scream and yell and beg him to fix me. I would tell him surely the anxiety would kill me, or I would end up doing it myself. We may have had our issues, but Christopher never deserved that, and neither does anyone. 

The other night was different. I knew I just had to keep my head above water long enough for the wave to wash over me and take the parts it needed and I would be alright. 

I didn’t need anyone to fix me. That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on a single person. No one can really fix anyone, that’s absurd. I don’t want anyone to ever look at me, even in my most broken, and think I need fixing. I’m a little bent, a little bruised up, but I don’t need a first aid kit or a savior.

I’ve learned to take care of myself for the most part, but sometimes I do need someone to wipe the tears and remind me that I’m stronger than this.

My poor friend got the brunt of my insecurities.  He stood there asking me what to do, how to help, how to make it stop. He thought it was about him, and it wasn’t. He just happens to be a place where I feel safe and cared about so I broke down; even though as I did, I was sure I was destroying everything that felt so effortless about us. 

The thing about anxiety is that it can creep in at any time, even when things are okay, and it turns even the best of us into self saboteurs. This friendship is one of the things that makes me the happiest.

Sometimes, though, I don’t think I deserve it. I don’t think I deserve to be deliriously happy. I don’t think I deserve someone who is so undoubtedly there for me, not out of necessity or obligation, but because they legitimately care.  

I’m always looking for something to be wrong. I get it in my head that surely things will blow up in my face so I might as well light the match and do it now, that way I’m in control of it. That way I decide how deep below the surface the flames get to burn.

I’m aware of it so I can usually rectify the situation before I blow the whole thing to smithereens, but I have to stop doing the same things or I will lose the people I care about. 

So I went to walk in the woods. 

I forget sometimes, how much it helps. Mostly because it sounds so silly, but there’s a solace I find in nature that I can’t find anywhere else. Not in any person, not in any bottle, not in any substance, not in any book store or library.

Nowhere.

I even let my anxiety ruin that, too. I tossed and turned last night imagining I had an anxiety attack on the side of the trail and ended up surrounded by five hungry alligators.

That’s what anxiety does. It makes every single thing seem like a huge deal.

It makes you feel like the world is spinning and you are in a pool or a lake or an ocean or a gator swamp and you’re splashing around just trying to get your footing or even just a solid tread but waves keep coming and you think surely you might die because even the smallest things are so goddamn overwhelming.

I think that’s why I’m so drawn to water when I get anxious. Why I end up on shower floors or throwing myself into the ocean or the pool: if I feel some real water crashing down on my skin, I can focus on that instead of all the “what ifs.” It’s the way I take my power back.

wetlands1

I might lose everything, who the hell knows. All I do know is that if I keep obsessing over losing everything good in my life, I definitely will.

So I cleared my head. I realized that sometimes the anxiety creeps in, and I can’t explain it. There usually isn’t a reason –other than not trusting things to be good.

 

As I drove home, the sun was shining but it was raining. Pretty hard considering the sky was still so bright.

It was bizarre and beautiful and was the perfect metaphor for all the ridiculous anxiety I’d been feeling lately.

Everything is bright and beautiful, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with emotion that I cry anyways. 

It happens. I break down. I lose it. I make people around me worry that they’re hurting me when they aren’t.

But it’s okay.

Today in the woods (swamp, really), I was reminded that everything doesn’t have to be such a big deal. That things are good. That I don’t need to push situations or people.

wetlands4

I spent so much of my life being defined by my anxiety and depression. To my parents. To my teachers. To my boyfriend. Everyone always had to watch out for me having a panic attack or falling into the pit of depression.

I get it, and I’m grateful for the countless people in my life who have helped me or saved me or been there for me, but I don’t need it to be my defining factor any more.

When it creeps in, I let it take over because it feels so familiar. I forget that I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m stronger than that.

I’ve said all year that “I believe in good things coming.” I’ve written it in almost every blog post. I write it down on pastry bags at work. I fill pages with that single phrase when I’m overwhelmed and need to write but can’t find more specific words.

I need to get that inked on my skin.

I believe in good things coming.

The good things are here. They’re here. No matter what the voice of anxiety says in the back of my mind: good things are here, and good things are coming.

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