Thursday, March 16, 2017

When Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety can hit you like a blizzard.
Mondays are hard.

They are especially hard if you have an anxiety attack in the middle of the afternoon.

Monday morning, I was feeling pretty low.  I was driving home from visiting my boyfriend who lives in another city.  I was still upset about a small argument we had the night before (even though it was resolved.) Adele's "When We Were Young" played on the radio and I could feel the feelings starting to bubble up.

When I got home and was sitting on my favorite chair, all the negative feelings hit. Tragedy. Mom asked me what was wrong, and I couldn't pinpoint it, but soon I'm loudly sobbing in her arms.

Anxiety attacks can feel different to different people.  For me... it feels like my heart is crying.  And I'm crying.  And the whole world is overwhelming and there appears to be no good outcome in sight.

All sorts of negative doubts, questions, and considerations bombard you at once.  Here are just a few of mine from Monday (Trigger warning for those who are prone to anxious fits.):

- Maybe I'll never find a career I love.
- I'm a disappointment.
- I feel so physically blegh lately... Maybe it will always be this way.
- What if I never find someone who loves me enough to marry me?
- My parents will likely die before me and I'll have to live without them.
- I don't see a positive future where I'm happy.
- I should have made a lot of decisions differently.
- I'm getting old.
- There's not enough time.

In hindsight, when the attack is over, many of these concerns seem overblown. But while the attack is occurring, they are all very real.

Why Monday afternoon?  Was it because of where I was on my cycle of birth control pills (Varying hormone levels can lead to mood changes)?  Was it related to an exacerbation of OCD and anxiety?  Was it just a normal twenty-something freakout? Feelings are difficult enough to figure out without these other factors.

My advice to those facing an anxiety attack is to just let it happen.  Cry it out. Feel all the feelings.  Don't hide from it.  Take it from someone who has been there and back (and there and back and there and back....) You will come out on the other side.


  1. Laura, I'm sorry you had such a bad day. It sounds like zero fun and that's so very, very hard. But your advice is so spot-on. Cry it out, let the toxins go, feel it. And then move on. And know -- and accept -- that you may never have the answers to all those questions. Most of us don't and we still manage to live gloriously happy lives, even if there are bad days. Have you ever done the gratitude journal? I did and it changed my life and whenever I look at the old ones, it still does! Or find just one thing in a day that makes you happy -- sunshine, buying yourself a beautiful flower or something special because you are worth it, snuggling with Gus. One thing. More is always better! And I'll just bet your mom told you a version of the same thing because she is very wise!

    1. I love the way you put it - "let the toxins go." I've heard great things about gratitude journals, but I've never actually tried one! I think it would be a good idea. Also, snuggling with Gus always makes everything better. I hope that you are doing well!