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When Anxiety Makes You Feel 'Weak'

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I haven’t felt this weak in a long time. I have told myself as a long-term sufferer of anxiety, that I was learning how to deal with it. I hadn’t had a major breakdown in months, no screaming in bed, no cluster panic attacks at all. I was practically a professional at this anxiety game. I was in control. So why was I curled up and crying in my boyfriend’s bedroom while several guests were laughing happily in the living room?

I don’t know why I suddenly couldn’t hold on anymore. I don’t know why the breathing didn’t work. I don’t know why I didn’t have the strength to stand up. I don’t know why I couldn’t stop crying, as I stuffed the quilt in my mouth to silence my incessant screams.

I was comforted numerous times. I insisted we “keep up appearances.” I wanted my boyfriend to send my apologies to the guests, telling them I’d gone to sleep because I was so tired. I’m so used to dealing with my mental illness that I begrudge anyone finding out I struggle. The mascara tears on my hand remind me I’m a failure. Why can’t I pull myself together? What sort of grown woman cries and screams over nothing and ruins a perfectly good evening?

Well, this one. After this rather dramatic episode, I endured three consecutive days where my anxiety was through the roof. I wasn’t able to drive without needing to pull over to try and calm the beating pains in my chest. I was woken each evening by multiple panic attacks and plagued with awful dreams. My head was consistently filled with the white noise of sheer panic. But I’m still here.

I felt weak, but that does not mean I am weak. I’m slowly starting to accept the fact that my anxiety will never go away. I will never be cured. I will have good spells but there will still be times when I can’t “meditate away” a panic attack. It doesn’t matter how long my good spells last or how long my bad ones do. What matters is that I get through it. What matters is that I stop crying (eventually) and wipe my tears. It’s that I sit up and hear that voice in my head saying “Now what was all that fuss about?” What’s important is I get back to me in the end.

I won’t pretend that every single panic attack tries to convince me I will never get back. Every single shaking, stuttering, wailing attack lulls me in to believing it will be the end of me. Well, so far anxiety has nil points on that front. Deep down, I know I’ve got this. I’m not going anywhere — no matter how many times anxiety tries to knock me down. If I have managed to get up this many times, a couple more won’t hurt.

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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.

Originally published: September 25, 2017
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