Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anatomy of An Anxiety Attack

All the ingredients for the perfect storm were there. It was my PMS weekend, I'd had a very stressful week at work, and I had made a stupid mistake, which caused my confidence to take a serious hit. I had way too much on my plate for the weekend. No down time, lots of obligations.

The storm started to roll in yesterday at around 4:00 p.m. I felt it coming; that old familiar feeling. My mind started to race like the unstable, shifting wind. Irrational thoughts started to form like dark black storm clouds on the horizon, rolling in closer and closer. All I could do was baton down the hatches, because by then, I knew the storm was going to hit hard, ready or not.

Throughout the evening, it was mostly in my head. Ridiculous, irrational thoughts that would not leave me alone. I fought them as long as I could, then decided to go to bed in hopes of escaping them. It didn't work. I tossed and turned. I couldn't calm my mind enough to go to sleep. When I finally did sleep, nightmares filled my dreams. Rest would not come, but morning finally did.

It was my Saturday to work, and by the time I got to my desk I knew the storm was right on me. I'll try my best to describe what happened from there, but if you've never experienced something like this, it will simply sound ridiculous. My left eye began to twitch. My shoulders tightened to the point they began to burn. My chest started to hurt. My breathing became labored. Panic and fear came over me as it might if I were being dangled by one foot off the Empire State Building. My hands got cold...really cold...freezing cold. I was still working, still communicating with people, still holding it together on the outside. Other than the fact that I was still and quiet, if you'd looked at me, it probably appeared that everything was fine. Only it wasn't.

I dug through my bag to find some Xanax. In about 20 minutes time, that began to give some relief to my physical symptoms. But my mind wasn't getting a reprieve. Throughout the entire day I felt as though I was trapped in a room, screaming for someone, anyone to help me. Inside, I was sobbing, begging, desperate. No matter how loud or how long I screamed, no one came. It's though I was in a sound proof booth. People were walking all around me but they couldn't see me or hear my desperate wailing. Even if they had, I'm not sure they could have helped me. My captor had such a tight grip on me, there was no way to pry him off me. I was totally and completely alone.

By the time I headed for home, the anxiety had manifested itself into anger. Anger and frustration swelled up inside me like a volcano. I snapped at my son in a way that I had to apologize for. I wanted to hurt someone or something. I wanted to yell at someone.

I had a dinner date with a friend of mine and I wanted so much to cancel and go to bed, but I didn't. I made myself go. After I ate, and had some laughs, I felt a little better. She had no clue what had occurred inside my head in the past 24 hours.

Tonight I soaked in a very hot bath. I dozed off a couple of times, and dreamed about writing this entry, which made me think I could find some relief in the one thing that never lets me down; my writing. I feel like I can sleep tonight. I feel exhausted. My eyes are blurry and my legs are aching. My mind is still busy, but I don't feel hysterical. The worst of the storm has passed. All that's left now are rumblings of thunder in the distance. I welcome any sleep I may be able to enjoy tonight. Please Lord, let tomorrow be better.

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