When Anxiety Is All-Consuming
It’s 4:16 a.m., and I’m lying here, unable to sleep.
I’ve dealt with anxiety disorders for over six years now. You’d think after all this time, I’d have gotten used to it. But no. I still feel the same fear entering my heart whenever the fluttering feeling sets in.
Sometimes it’s just that – butterflies in the stomach.
But even then I fear. Why?
Because apart from multiple chronic illnesses, I have also been diagnosed with major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety, to name a few. And needless to say, anxiety affects every aspect of my life.
Not a day goes when I don’t get panic attacks. Sometimes they are mild and pass quickly, and even then they leave me so restless, so frightened that the mere thought of it makes me shudder.
And when they are severe, I’m left breathless, extremely dizzy with pain in my chest until I eventually pass out.
The fear that the world is going to end and that I’m going to die, the feeling that nothing will ever be all right, and the unexplained, unnatural and scary thought of an impending doom makes me feel sick to the point I actually start believing this attack could kill me.
I often compare my depression to an ocean, the black waters of which continuously torture me, giving me only two options – drown or spend my entire life caught in its rusty, dreary shadows.
While my depression is like an ocean, with anxiety I feel like I am falling off a cliff.
It’s all beautiful and green surrounding me, and then all of a sudden, I see my life slipping away.
I feel like I’m in a free fall, going down and down and down — fast enough that I cannot make sense of what is happening, and slow enough to make sure I experience every single moment with full intensity.
I keep falling and falling.
My chest becomes too heavy and too tight, as if something strong and heavy is sitting on it, pulling breaths out of me — one by one.
I get this horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, constantly making me feel like I want to throw up.
The nausea, the fear, the chest pain, the trembling, the tightness a panic attack brings is something you cannot imagine.
It’s so terrible, so frightening that it haunts you long after the original attack has passed.
I feel anxious every day. Sometimes all day. And it is dreary — to not be able to breathe and to feel like you’ll pass out — and then the actual passing out.
Living with anxiety is a nightmare. A nightmare that becomes reality and tortures me day in and day out, consuming my life in all of its entirety, making breathing the most difficult task ever.
If you are struggling tonight, please know I am here for you.
The whole purpose of writing this is to let you know that no matter what happens and no matter how hard things get, you are never alone.
There’s always someone somewhere going through something similar, if not the exactly the same thing.
You need to know that no matter how horrible and how powerful anxiety feels like, we are always stronger.
I have so many things I like to do to distract myself in case of a panic attack or when I feel the first signs setting in.
They don’t always help. But they don’t always fail either.
Sometimes just listening to an audio book (which is by far my favorite and most helpful technique when it comes to anxiety) or taking random pictures on my phone helps prevent an attack that would have occurred if I had kept still.
I have noticed that just living in the moment and taking things one at a time, I feel more grounded and relaxed.
You could also have something that might help you.
I’d really love if even one person feels less alone reading this.
Because I know how it feels.
And because I never want anyone else to feel the same.
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If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.