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When Anxiety Is Like Driving in a Sudden Thunderstorm

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Picture this. You are driving your car, it’s a beautiful sunny day, the birds are singing, your windows are down and the warm breeze is blowing your hair. You feel happy, content. You know where you are going and what your purpose is.

Suddenly, a storm comes out of seemingly nowhere. The peaceful warmth of the morning is suddenly replaced by strong winds, thunder and lightning and pelting rain. You can’t see. Your vision is obscured by the water cascading over the windscreen of your vehicle. You can’t hear, the sound of the drops pounding against the thin metal of your roof is deafening. It is suddenly cold; you are shivering.

You pull over to the side of the road, heart pounding, fear racing through your veins. You wonder how you are going to get through this — up ahead you can see the water is creeping across the road, and behind you the lightning has struck a tree, blocking the road in that direction. The sky that was blue only a few minutes before has gone dark. Everything seems hopeless; you are trapped.

What will you do? Will you stay where you are, hoping that help arrives? Will you try to drive through the rising floodwaters in front of you and pray to get through safely? You ask yourself out aloud, “Why is this happening?” After all, 10 minutes ago everything was perfect.

This is what life with anxiety can be like. You can be traveling along fine, you know where you are going and what you want to do. You are feeling positive and you are sure things will work out. Then bang, the storm can hit out of seemingly nowhere. Suddenly the world is going dark, and everything feels frightening, your heart races and your thoughts are zipping along a million miles an hour. Things seem to swirl around you, much like they do in the midst of a raging hurricane. It can be overwhelming, hard to stand, terrifying in its ferocity.

But remember that just like a thunderstorm, this panic will pass. Find higher ground and bunk down, be gentle and kind to yourself. Take a slow breath, wait and watch the world pass by for a little while. Wait and it will be OK, the storm can only rage for so long before it runs its course, and afterwards when the sun comes out, you will be thankful that you managed to make it through.

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Thinkstock photo via mdesigner125

Originally published: March 8, 2017
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