Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anxious about anxiety

I'm an anxious sort of person and I always have been.  I tend to worry about things both in my control and out of it.  Worrying doesn't get me anywhere, I know, but it's part of who I am.  I've never really thought too much about it being detrimental to my well being because I've always done that and I figured if I was going to feel any side effects of it I would've already.  I've never developed an ulcer or suffered any other physical type of consequences because of my tendency to worry.  I can remember a few instances where I worried so much that I shook on occasion.  I did that quite a bit when my mom was really sick and about to pass away.  I felt helpless and when I couldn't banish the thoughts of what was happening to her from my brain I'd shake a little bit, have a good cleansing cry and feel better for a while.

I had never had what I now know to be a full on anxiety or panic attack though.  I didn't experience my first one until about a month ago and it scared the hell out of me.  I was on the way to the memorial of my friend Amber's mother.   My friend Karen was driving - thank God I might add - and out of nowhere I started to shake all over.  I felt very cold and my teeth began to chatter.  I suddenly felt really thirsty too.  My friend that was driving became worried about me when she turned the heat on me and I was still shaking and saying how cold I was.  She correctly guessed that I was having a panic attack and asked me if I had ever had one before.  Since I had never experienced one I wasn't sure.  All I knew is that my heart was pounding and I felt like I was coming unglued for a few minutes.  She pulled over and I ran into a convenience store for a bottle of water to help relieve my cotton mouth.  I was shaking as I paid the cashier and he was looking at me funny and I don't blame him.  I was a sight to see.. shaking all over and almost unable to pull the cash out of my wallet to pay for my bottle of water.  As soon as I got back into her car and started drinking the water I began to feel better.  My legs felt wobbly as I walked into the church but as soon as I sat down I felt a bit more like myself. 

When I got home I googled my symptoms and read up on panic attacks. I learned the difference between what is an anxiety attack is and how it's different from a panic one.  Panic attacks pretty much feel as if they're coming out of nowhere and present themselves exactly like mine did.  I began to think about why I had one that seemed so out of the blue and sudden while it was happening.  Turns out it was something I think was brewing for a while and just presented itself that way and that day.  It was the first memorial I had been to for someone's mom since I lost my own and I think that something about going to that triggered something inside of me that I had buried for the sake of functioning - my own grief.  I've known my friend who lost her mom for well more than a decade.  She's twelve years younger than I am and for some reason I've always felt very maternal towards her.  I didn't know her mom very well but I took it hard when I found out that she passed because I care deeply for my friend and know what she was going through.  I related to her pain and how she felt like a lost little girl who only wanted her mommy again.  I went through that and still to this day have those feelings.  I push them aside because I have a job to do and need to focus on my child but in my quieter and more reflective moments those feelings are there even though my mom has been gone for over four years.

I think just the act of going to her mom's memorial triggered my deep-seated sadness and instead of crying like I would normally do brought on a full panic attack.  I thought that once that day ended that would be the last of those but I was wrong.  It's almost as if the floodgates opened.  I've had four of those since then.  One happened in the middle of the night and woke me up.  I have no memory of what I might have been dreaming of that brought that particular one on but all I know is that I woke up with the same symptoms as before and it took me getting up and drinking a bottle of water and going outside for some fresh air to calm down again.

I'm torn at this point as to what to do.  I am hoping that this is something that will pass.  It's been over a week since my last one.  I am not ruling out the possibility of resorting to taking medication if this were to keep happening but I'd rather wait and see at this point.  I've never been on any form of anxiety medication or anti-depressants.  Nothing against them for other people at all but I've always worried about how they'd affect me.  I'm very, very sensitive to medication and always have been.  I was prescribed Vicodin last summer for a pinched sciatic nerve and it messed me up big time.  I was barely able to function and lost a good amount of weight.  I couldn't sleep and just felt very out of it until that stuff was out of my system.  Suffice it to say meds and I don't mix well.  I know people who've been greatly helped by meds so if I get to the point that the panic attacks are commonplace and they interfere with my ability to do what needs to be done I will do it.  I'm just hoping I don't have to.

Since I worry that just me being anxious about these attacks will bring on one I am trying to not focus too much on them.  That's partially why I wrote about it.  If I sit down and get my feelings out about something I tend to feel better and can handle whatever that is bothering me in a calmer manner.  Here's to hoping that happens with this.


  1. sounds like we have a lot in common. :) I too have anxiety, love caffiene, beer, and margaritas. It takes a lot of creative coping skills to deal with the 2 aspies I live with, but God gave us the strength to do it. Best wishes.

  2. Thank you for your kind words! Here's to our creative coping skills.. It's always comforting to hear from anyone who uses those as well :)