The musings of a girl who's a bit too eager to talk about anything and everything.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What My Anxiety And Panic Make Me Feel Like.

3:40 PM Posted by Allie Wood , , , No comments
It's no secret anymore. 
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.
I have an anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, to be exact.
I also have Panic Disorder.
Now, I'm going to tell you what it feels like.

Now, there's a reason I put "What My Anxiety And Panic Make Me Feel Like," as the title to this post, as opposed to "What Anxiety And Panic Make People Feel Like." It's different for everyone. It all has the same undertone, but it shows up differently for everyone This is what it feels like to me. 

  • It feels like that seemingly 'never-ending' anticipation when you're watching a horror movie and you just know the bad guy is about to pop out of nowhere, but you don't know when.


That anticipation, that heightened sense of alert even though you're actually safe at home and you're just chilling on the couch? It really is never-ending. I'm not saying I'm scared all the time. I'm rarely ever scared. What I am saying is that my heart tends to beat a little faster when I'm trying to relax, because I'm in a constant state of worry. Again, not an "Oh my gosh, what was that potentially harmless noise that could also potentially be someone trying to kill me," kind of worry. Anxiety is not being paranoid. Let me repeat, ANXIETY IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO BEING PARANOID. It may seem like we can be paranoid, but trust me, that's not what it is.

  • Even if all your ducks are in a row, you can't shake the feeling that, somehow, someway, one of them has wondered off, even though they haven't.

"I've got five ducks. They're all here. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Okay, still all here. But are they really? Is number four actually my duck or is that someone else's duck? Wait. What if someone has my number four and I have their number four? Is that why I feel so weird right now? Because I don't have the right ducks? I sure hope this is my number four duck and not my neighbor's."

This is kind of a weird metaphor I'm trying to make work. In this case, the ducks mean my own legitimate worries.

If we're making ducks equal worries, this can mean I'm doing something like making someone else's low-key worry one of my main worries, because that's just how I think. Example:

Them: I've got a test tomorrow. I hope I pass.
Me: Oh, I hope so, too. Good luck! Get a good night's rest!
Me: *internally the next day* Oh, my. They're probably taking their test right now. I hope they got enough sleep and that they had a good breakfast. Did they make it to the test on time? Did they study last night? Are they able to focus right now? Oh, I hope they pass." *continues to be worried about it all day, even though it's literally not my worry to be worrying about in the first place* 

Sure, concern about someone is fine. But, trust me, making someone's worry your own is a little rough. It's pretty energy sapping.

  • It makes me feel deep-set admiration for that little voice in the back of my head that constantly reminds me that I can't punch someone when I hear things like "Just calm down," or "There's people out there who have it worse for you," or "Have you tried anything like meditation or something?"

WE. CANNOT. CONTROL. IT. If I had the ability to just "calm down" when I am about to have or am having a panic attack, don't you think I would? It has nothing to do with my mindset. My body is literally working against me, constantly. I have an anxiety disorder because I have a chemical imbalance. I have a bit too much dopamine and a little too little serotonin floating around my neurotransmitters up top. It's not my choice if, or when, I start freaking out and have a panic attack. Trust me. I wish I could decide. Because, then, I just wouldn't have my panic attacks in the first place. Yeah, there's people in worse situations than me, for sure. I'm not one to deny that and I wish everyone was at least as well-off as me. The world would be a lot happier. But, the thing is, MY world revolves around ME. I'm not saying that to sound selfish. Everyone's world revolves around themselves. That's why we keep living. If you stop caring about yourself and worrying about yourself, you can get extremely sick, or you could do something dangerous and potentially die because you simply didn't care. So, yeah, I care about my well-being, whether it's an ideal situation or not. That's that. Meditation? Really? Really? You don't think I've tried every possible outlet to calm myself down and that being literally the first thing everyone tells me to try? Trust me, I've tried it. Probably more times than you ever had. It just doesn't work for me. I get that you're saying you care by trying to give me an idea to try out to "help," and I appreciate that. I really do. But, since I'm extremely well aware of my situation and my problem, you can't honestly expect me to have not already tried that.

Here's a little comic that might put this into a little more perspective:

  • It makes my whole life feel like the category my 'issues' fall under: Disorder.

Rarely do I ever feel like I'm in 100% control of my own emotions or even my thoughts. It feels like someone or something else is controlling me when I have any episodes or just have some free-floating anxiety. Why am I crying so hard that I can't breathe when literally nothing is wrong in my life? Because my body's telling me to. Why am I worried about things I could never hope to control and don't WANT to be worried about in the first place? Because my body's telling me to. It's hard feeling like you're not in control of yourself, and that is simply the epitome of my life. I feel like my life is in constant disarray, even though everything's fine. All the bills are paid, I have food to eat, my car is running, everything is good. Yet, it's not. Because my body just feels like something's off. Like there's some potential problem always lurking in the background and I can prevent it if I can just THINK of it. But, the problem is, I can never think of it. So, I'm just left with this free-floating worry. All the time. It's so totally fantastic. 10/10. Would recommend. Not.

  • It makes me feel like a monster sometimes.

No, not the big, hairy thing with sharp teeth that chases you in nightmares. The kind of monster you don't expect. Almost like that psychopath that lives down the street. Friendly enough and says hi when you pass each other while you're going to check your mail, but murders their boss for no other reason than to just do it, but then feels the guilt of it while they're in jail for the rest of their lives. Obviously, I'm not a murderer and that probably wasn't the best comparison to make, but it's the best thing I can think of. But, the thing is, when I'm not freaking out, I seem totally fine, totally normal. I smile and laugh just as much as everyone else. I'll joke around with everyone. I come off as a very happy and care-free person from what people have told me. But then there's those times when I'm freaking out for no reason, crying hysterically, and trying not to scream at anything up to, and including, inanimate objects, and then turning around to see things like the look on my fiance's face when he's desperately trying to reassure me that everything's okay, that nothing bad is going to happen, etc., etc. It's times like that where I feel like the worst human on the earth because I'm causing pain by existing in that current moment and being the sole reason for that moment.) (P.S. Brandon, I know you're reading this, so I just want to say thank you for dealing with me when I go into panic mode, because I know that's difficult to deal with. It means the world. I love you.)

  • It makes me feel sick to my stomach. Literally.

I have thrown up more because of panic attacks and worries than I ever have while I've been actually sick, like with the flu and other stuff. It's rough. It makes me sweat a lot. It makes me overheat. My muscles spaz up and cramp up. Or some muscles just decide to give out and a whole limb will just be useless for a couple minutes. My face gets red. My mouth gets too dry to talk sometimes. I get dizzy and have to sit down. All for no other reason than just because I'm extra worried over something stupid or nothing at all.

  • But. Sometimes, just sometimes, it makes me feel grateful.
It makes me feel grateful because at least I have a body, even if it doesn't like me most of the the time. I haven't woken up dead yet, and that's something to be grateful for. It makes me feel grateful because it's shown me that, even though I feel like I'm a weak person for crying over something stupid like if that ant I killed in my kitchen earlier had a family, I'm still a very strong person. I haven't taken to self-medicating my problem with any less than ideal substances. I still have my job in the world's greatest Navy, and trust me, I've seen people get kicked out for lesser reasons than that. I'm almost proud, I guess, to be someone who has to deal with this problem, because it makes me grateful for things like times when I'm actually care-free. (Extremely rare, but it happens.) It makes me happy when I get through a stressful situation without having to run to the bathroom to dry heave and cry. I definitely look at life differently a little differently, and that's okay. It's like when you get a new prescription for your glasses or contacts and you finally see things a little more clearly. You could see before, but now everything's in high definition. It's quite the sight to see.