I used to react to everything. Or, more accurately, it would be better to say I used to overreact to everything. But such is life with anxiety disorders. This is the struggle I had between rational and irrational thinking.
I used to have panic attacks.
Ever have one?
It was like, say, the entire world was against me. At least, I thought so. I lost control and seemed like I couldn’t hold onto anything. The impending doom was always lurking behind me like a dark cloud which led me to question which came first; anxiety or depression? And I heard different opinions on this but nothing was ever clear r concrete. So which was it?
Was I anxious because I was depressed or was I depressed because I was anxious? Either way, I was stuck in a system of ideas.
I was always waiting for the next thing to go wrong. There was no way out and no way to outrun myself. The thoughts in my head would spin too quickly and in my case, all thoughts lead towards the ideas of rejection, or shame, public humiliation, and exposure.
All of my nerves were on high alert. I was afraid of failure and afraid of my shame. In fairness, I was afraid my imperfections. I was afraid the truth of my lies and the discovery of my mistakes would come to light.
Then everyone would see me for what I was; everyone would know I was a screw up, a fake, a fraud, or see me as the imposter I believed myself to be. Then my fears took on a lonelier structure, meaning I would always be alone and die by myself. I could have been in the company of mullions but yet, somehow, I still felt so desperately alone.
This is life with anxiety disorder. This is what life is like with rejection sensitive dysphoria.
This is depression to me:
Sanity dissolves when the attack hits. Rational thinking says “Goodbye” and gives way to irrational ideas which take over and unravel in the most uncontrollable way.
It feels like, say for example, you want to get away from yourself, or disappear, or jump out of your own skin, but there’s no way out and no way to break free.
You can’t outrun yourself because it’s the same idea as trying to run away in a nightmare—your legs don’t move right and your feet are stuck to the floor. All you can do now is to suffer until the anxiety passes, like a storm that destroys everything in its path.
In all honesty —the problem is really vanity. This wasn’t the excess of pride but more, this was the hollowness of my insecurity, which I tried to hide.
I tried to keep myself from vulnerability. I tried to protect me from harm but nothing ever seemed to solve the problem.
My anxiety came with triggers. Some were obvious and situational. Some of my triggers were less obvious but deeply rooted to biased thoughts which dovetailed and fanned out, from one crazy idea to another.
This is the way I lived for most of my life. Therefore, to feel better, I had to learn how to see the connection in my thinking so that I could challenge my assumptions and understand them as irrational fears, like a child, afraid of missing out on something or being hurt or picked on.
I had to learn to break these connections and create new ones.
It’s hard to think clearly when the attacks hit. It is hard to think rationally or follow a plan when thoughts become irrational.
To improve, I had to learn realistic and sustainable methods which helped me whenever I was in panic mode. I also reached out to others that experience anxiety attacks to learn more from a “Ground up,” perspective.
I have talked with doctors and people with degrees on their walls but somehow, I never trusted them as much as someone else that knows what it feels like to panic.
I wrote something a while back which was more like a note to self about what to do when the panic hits.
I thought about this yesterday. I thought about my panic button and what I do when the alarms go off in my head.
I know that much of this is only an illusion. I know my panic attacks happen when my assumptions and thinking reach an irrational level; however, in the moment, nothing is rational; so therefore; trying to placate the ideas with rational thinking is useless. And, quite honestly, if panic attacks were that easy to deal with, no one would ever feel anxious again.
I say the word “Stop!” when I see my thoughts turn in a dangerous direction. I close my eyes and then I breathe.
I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth.
I concentrate on the feeling of the air moving through my nose and cooling the inside of my nostrils. I fill my lungs to maximum capacity. I breathe in hard (like smelling the flowers) and then I exhale through my mouth (like I’m blowing out the candles.)
This helps alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as the over-production of calcium due to an overreaction of the fear receptors. This also lowers the lactic acid in the blood and improves the oxygen levels in our bloodstream, which allows the body to physically calm down.
The message below is something I wrote to myself as a reminder to breathe and not speak out, self-destruct, or overreact. I figured I would share this here with you in case someone might find this useful
Breathe because breathing is the one thing that cannot stop you from doing.
Breathe because your breath is proof that says “You’re alive!” You’re not dying. That’s just an idea in your mind.
Breathe because there’s nothing else you can for the moment.
No matter what is said or done, just breathe because your breath is the one thing that cannot be stopped. No one can steal this. And when the walls close in, when the voices inside your head make you crazy and when the thoughts betray you, the anxiety reaches an all-time high, and the worry you feel becomes like quicksand in which the harder you try to get away, the deeper you sink, just breathe and know this is all a hoax.
It’s not real.
It’s just an idea that got out of control
Give it a minute.
This will allow you the time to decipher between reality and fear because the two are not always the same. Take a second.
Breathe in deeply and then exhale just as hard.
Be mindful that overthinking is the quicksand.
So breathe and take a step back. Get an honest assessment of what’s happening and if need be, create a supportive manta while you breathe, for example, you could say, “This isn’t real,” as you breathe in and “That isn’t happening,” as you exhale.
Overreacting does not help.
So just breathe for now.
Before you say anything, just breathe.
Breathe because if you don’t, the next thing could be explosive and gone too far.
Breathe before you say something you might regret and no matter how much you try, no apologies will ever salvage the damage you leave behind.
The above idea has helped me overcome so much.
And who knows? Maybe they can help others too.
Either way, I say it’s worth a shot