6 Things Anxiety Made Unbearable For Me
I’ve written about how difficult it is to go day-to-day with an anxiety and panic disorder. I mean, I couldn’t even get a hair cut without feeling as though I was ready to eject from my own skin while sitting in the salon chair. I’d love to say that the hair salon is the only thing that has really been affected since I was diagnosed, but that is simply not true. Panic attacks have thrown my life curve ball after curve ball.
Here are some of the things in life that anxiety decided to annoyingly make unbearable for me.
There is probably nothing that is much worse for a person with anxiety than silence. It’s not because things are boring. It’s because our brains become so loud it can be unbearable. The last thing I need as an anxious person is to hear my brain yelling at me and reminding me so clearly about all the things I should be worried about. When I am at home I always have the television on. I’m usually not watching it, but I need the talk stimulation. It helps keep my anxiety quieter and allows me to be focused on the task at hand. Right now as I write to you Survivor is on in the background. I had no idea what is going on… but I’m sure it’s something like the last 15 years of Survivor. Get off the island. Is there a metaphor somewhere in there for anxiety?
Sleep is slightly similar to silence for me. I sleep with the television or radio on sleep-mode so at least it will turn off by the time I am (hopefully) down for the count. As a child, when my panic attacks began to manifest, they used to really hit hard a night time when I was in bed. It took many years to be able to be able to go to bed without fearing another panic attack. They used to hit me as soon as I reached that state between being asleep and being awake. It hit me like a train and I’d be suddenly awake trying to fight off a terrifying panic attack. I saw 3:00 AM far more than any child should. Some nights I was just too frightened to sleep at all. Childhood sleepovers were out of the question. I’ve come a long way in 25 years and I have a fairly decent sleep pattern going now. Occasionally I may wake up with a minor attack but that is leaps and bounds better than eight-year-old me reading books under her blanket at all hours of the night.
I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. I’ve always been a naturally slim person. I really do enjoy trying to keep in moderate shape. I’ve tried many different types of fitness and have had panic attacks during all of them. I attribute the issue to a few things. The main issue is that my heart rate is raised and I feel over heated as I exercise. Not only does that trigger fight or flight, I also start to feel trapped where ever I am. In the end I end up giving up and trying to find a new kind of exercise that may or may not work for me. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to start having a panic attack while in a quiet hot yoga class? If you’re like me, then you also get to experience what I call “stomach death”. I’ll let you imagine that one.
I’ll give you all this one. Throwing up sucks. No one likes it. It doesn’t feel good. But for some reason, slight nausea would send me on a one-way trip to Anxious Town before making a stop at Panic Attack City. The kicker to all of this: Nausea gives me panic attacks and panic attacks make me feel nauseous. See how much fun that is? I went 23 years refusing to be sick. I even beat the historical record set by Seinfeld. It wasn’t a black and white cookie that ended my streak but a good case of the stomach flu. Since then I’ve been doing much better with dealing with nausea. In fact, my fear has lessened and I worry about it less and less every day. If you are dealing with this same issue, I don’t actually recommend getting the stomach flu but there may be some faint silver (more of a shiny-grey) lining if you do.
I love food. It took me awhile to get there seeing as being scared of throwing up can make eating an issue, but I really love food. The only issue is that I have been known to have panic attacks in restaurants while with groups of people. I know that the issue isn’t SOLELY the restaurant but a combination of eating too much, a group of people and feeling trapped, but the idea of going out to eat at a restaurant sets my nerves up several notches. I’ve had to get up and leave meals with friends and I’m sure that it will happen again. I’m not going to stop going out to eat because I REALLY LOVE FOOD. However, I will spend the hour before hand wondering whether I should go or not. I’ll be thinking about canceling and rescheduling. I try to find a way to get take-out instead. In the future if we are out to eat together, be not offended if I suddenly get up and say, “I’m sorry I have to go immediately”. I have lost friends when this has happened. It doesn’t feel good but I am who I am! Great, now I’m hungry. Anyone for take-out?
I don’t like the idea of being in a car with a person I don’t know. I don’t like feeling like I don’t have control of where the driver is going. Which sounds odd because a taxi is there to pick you up and take you to your destination – you know, the one YOU CHOSE. For some reason, on many occasions, I’ve had cabs turn back and take me home. I’ve also had cabs just drop me off in the middle of the trip. Being dropped off in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge can be a little difficult, no matter how much I demand (I had to wait until we got to the other side). I always tell the cab drivers the same thing, “Oh, my meeting has been canceled. Let’s turn around and go back.” I’m not sure why I decided saying I have a meeting needed to be said (most likely so I didn’t look crazy), nor do I know why I decided that I needed to give the driver a REASON for turning around. If I could walk everywhere I would. Don’t get me started on airplanes…
Am I alone? Well, if I’ve learned anything over the past many years is that I’m not. I’m sure that many of you will totally connect with me and know exactly what I’m talking about. That makes me feel comforted because there was a time when I felt like I was the only one and no one would ever understand. Now I know there is at least ONE person out there who does.