How much do you struggle with anxiety? How often do you battle to stay sane in a world that steals the life from you? Do you ever lose days fighting to get your mind back from the brink?
Those of us who deal with anxiety know how hard it is to do “normal” things when we are suffering. Getting out of bed, showering, remembering to eat, trying to work — what do you manage to get done and what do you give up?
We know the sinking feeling when the anxiety visits us. First, it’s a nagging feeling that won’t go away. Soon it sweeps away everything else until we struggle to survive.
How are we supposed to live a normal life?
The past few days
I went to bed the other night feeling only the normal amount of anxiety I usually experience. I didn’t know anything was wrong. The only thing that marked this night was the panic attack my wife Flora suffered before she went to bed.
Between the two of us, panic attacks happen almost every day. We’ve learned to deal with them by using deep breathing and a lot of support from each other.
That night my sleep was more than troubled. I tossed and turned, fighting against invisible enemies and night terrors. I was up and down all night, trying to clear the demons from my head by pacing back and forth in the dark.
I woke to a feeling of panic and pulled the blanket tighter around my head. Soon Flora was yelling at me to get out of bed, and I pushed back against the anxiety holding me in place. There was a terrible amount of dread building in my chest, but I pushed it down inside so I could start my day.
I did a few of the things that I needed to get done, but I wasn’t able to write. The voices were screaming in my head, and I couldn’t concentrate no matter what I tried.
I was irritable and couldn’t talk to anyone without getting angry and yelling. After seeing the hurt in my daughter’s eyes after I yelled at her for daring to tell me she was hungry, I gave up trying. I spent the afternoon and evening curled fetal in my bed, trying to push away the noise in my mind.
That night and the following day weren’t much better.
I drank a few beers before bed last night. Not the best coping mechanism, but it’s was all I had. I slept sound, and while I woke to anxiety, I didn’t have the panic and terror that marked the previous days.
I realized when I sat at my desk to write today that I’d lost almost two days. Two more days of my life are gone. I’ll never get that time back and it bothers me.
How do you feel?
Do you see a little of your own battle in what happened to me? Are you struggling with sleep and moving through your days like a zombie?
Many of us tire of trying to rely on medications to help with our symptoms. I did that for years and became an addict because I gave up fighting and relied 100% on the pills as a cure.
Pills aren’t the only answer. Neither is drinking. None of us can live our lives in an irritable fog, lashing out at everyone who dares come near to us.
So what do we do?
The only way to rid ourselves of anxiety and panic is to figure out what caused it in the first place. In my case, I’ve been pushing too hard. I put myself in the middle of situations that caused me stress. I am highly sensitive, and I tend to absorb the feelings of the people around me.
I’ve allowed myself to be in situations I had no part of because I wanted to help. I wanted to stand up for the little guy and make a difference. But all I did was push myself down a rabbit hole that took me two days to get out of.
As much as we want to help, we have to think of our own situation first. Our minds get manipulated into a position where we are no longer practicing self-care. We forget to do the things that helped us in the first place. We forget our issues.
I hate to say it because I am the kind of person who likes to help others, but you have to be selfish. You have to concentrate on the things that help you get to a better place.
For me, it’s writing and taking care of my family. I forget them sometimes and sit staring into my phone, trying to solve others’ problems. I forget about my own goals, and I can’t do that.
Look where it got me.
Be selfish sometimes. Practice self-care. Try to help others but don’t lose yourself in the process.
Remember what’s important and do what makes you happy and fulfilled.