September 10, 2014

My Anxiety

For me, anxiety manifests in mainly two ways:
  1. All the terrible, awful, scary things that can happen flash in my head.
  2. I become Chicken Little crying, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

I don't get panic attacks, like so many others do. Not real ones, anyway. Sometimes I get a little panicky, but that's not the same thing.

The ugly thoughts? One can roll along the train of tragedy until it's two, three.....

They're a quick vision of what bad thing could happen, what it would look like and how I might react to it.

One of the first ones I can remember was when my daughter was a toddler and we lived in an upstairs apartment with a balcony. There was a very high, sturdy metal mesh "fence" around the entire balcony and nothing out there for her to climb up on. One sunny spring day I had the slider open to let in fresh air and here comes Cami, toddling into the kitchen and straight out to the balcony.

As I watched her, a sudden wave of fear came over me and I saw her falling from the balcony to the ground, me screaming and running down the stairs and around the building to her....

My breath caught in my throat and I gasped. Snapping back to reality, I walked out to the balcony too, taking in a few deep breaths. Then I ushered her inside and distracted her with something else.

I see awful things like that in my head all the time. Whether it's my kids or my husband....or one of my parents or even friends. Especially when something out of the ordinary is happening....

Well, that's not even true. It could be entirely ordinary, like Mark running to the grocery store for a few items. Our neighborhood is surrounded by empty fields and small farms and there are ditches with no shoulder on the two lane roads. That freaks me out! We've seen cars in the ditches. It happens.

See, right there? I feel I have very real reasons for my fears/anxieties. I feel there is plenty of precedent to warrant them.

Like, say, for instance, my husband dying. His heart has stopped a few times. A vision of being told he's gone hits me hard sometimes. Hard enough to buckle my knees and have me grabbing for the wall to hold me up. Then that thought rolls into having to tell my children....

My brain. It tortures me.

I take the lowest dose of paroxetine (Paxil) daily. I was on Prozac for awhile but that shit numbs you. And I tried so hard not to need to go on a new med. I was very stubborn about it. But I like paroxetine because it just smooths out the rough edges, letting me still FEEL, without going off the deep end.

"The deep end" is what I mean by becoming Chicken Little. I'm getting much better with this aspect of my anxiety, though. I think maybe age and experience help because it seems the older I get, the more I'm able to compartmentalize, not lump everything all together, which is overwhelming.

Then again, it could also be the medication because, boy, if I am out of it for a couple days, I do lose it a little. Every last thing will feel like a mountain rather than a molehill and I am very emotional. Like sobbing over needing to make a few phone calls emotional.

I apologize. I'm going back and forth a bit trying to's difficult, though, because stuff like this is hard to make sense of.

So, for me, fear assaults my brain and I can get overwhelmed and emotional. I take a daily medication and I use my senses of humor and gratitude, lots of little prayers and deep breaths to recenter myself.

Anxiety can be crippling. I'm thankful it's not that bad for me. But it still sucks, especially thinking so much about terrible things happening. I really hate that.

Linked with Pour Your Heart Out.

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