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A Picture of an Anxiety Attack

Hi my name is Amanda, and yesterday, I had a pretty big anxiety attack. And now, I’m ready to start processing why.


Do you ever feel like you’re just getting swept up in your own life and you’re in control but also not in control at all? Like you’re floating on a weird cloud and you know your behavior may not be the healthiest in the world, but you’re enjoying the moment you’re in, so you don’t want to stop even though you know it may come back to bite you? Or you’re just trying to get through and survive, so you can’t stop moving, because you know the second you stop moving you’ll actually have to think about things and feel your feelings and that is the scariest thing of all? Or you made a promise to yourself that you broke, so instead of trying to repair the broken promise, you just lean into it and decide that you are just a disappointment and you failed?


If those questions and thoughts feel a little jumbled and discombobulated, well, that’s because that is exactly what anxiety looks like.


So the past week has been really interesting. It started last Wednesday, you know, when there was an attempted coup d'etat and terrorist attack on our nation's capital by white supremacists. Let’s be real, it all kinda went downhill from there.


2021 was supposed to be my year, you guys. I was so excited about turning a new leaf and working on getting rid of some of my bad habits. That started with my attempt at a “dry January.” A whole month without drinking. And honestly, I was pretty excited about it.


Notice I said attempt…


Cause let’s be real, when a group of white nationalists stormed the US capital and I sat on my couch watching news coverage of something that seemed straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale or The Hunger Games, I needed a drink. After I hit hour four of trying to work in front of my TV, a friend invited me out to the bar and I said “hell yea, I’m there.”

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but I kinda have an issue that when I start something, I can have trouble stopping. Light-hearted example, when I finally started watching all the Marvel movies, I loved them so much and now I’ve seen each one probably 4-5 times, my favorites maybe even a dozen times. Less light-hearted example, once productivity went out the window last Wednesday and I had the drink that broke my sober January, I leaned into that somewhat unhealthy behavior for the next several days.


Confession: working from home is difficult for me. Because when I have the opportunity to go out and do things instead, I am always going to choose the option to go out and do things. So the next few days after Wednesday, I had a few different friends in town and we did just that, we went out and did things. Cue me getting no work done for three straight days and having at least one drink each day.


Not the start to 2021 I had been hoping for.


All of that background is there to explain that I had a panic attack yesterday. And I kinda knew it was coming.


Because I spent basically a week skirting responsibilities, numbing the fear and pain of living in America, and enjoying good company and good beverages. And in the moment, I knew it may stress me out down the line, but I was enjoying the present moment, so I went along with it.


Enjoying good company and good beverages. Sounds like a great week, right? And in reality, it really was! I had a great time and made some wonderful memories, so why am I so stressed out about it now? Why in the world is my normal, human behavior causing me to panic?


In all honesty, I think it’s because I haven’t been to therapy in a while, and I’m all up in my own head. I also think it’s because I am an achiever, perfectionist, and people-pleaser. I judge myself harsher than anyone. And the past week, I look at my behavior and consider it reckless. You would probably look at my behavior and consider it a young adult in her 20s enjoying life and coping with a national crisis.


Gosh, I wish I could see it the same way you do.


The truth is, our own narrative about ourselves is sometimes harsher than anything anyone else would ever believe of us. We are so hard on ourselves. I’ve been beating myself up for the past week, and for what? For getting a little behind with work when I still have three whole weeks to make it up? For having a few drinks? For actually enjoying my life and having fun with good people?


Well, when you put it that way…


My anxiety tries to convince me that I’m not allowed to let loose or take breaks or have an unproductive day. My anxiety is trying to fill me regret when that isn’t what I organically feel. My anxiety won for a few hours yesterday, but now I’m taking back the reins.


Today’s post has been a lot more stream of consciousness than I’ll typically write, but I really just needed to get some stuff off my chest. This may be the most vulnerable I’ve really been with my dear readers. But as always, I strive for vulnerability and honesty so that if just one person reads it and says “hey me too,” they’ll feel a little less alone.


Anxiety attacks are usually a perpetuation of lies we tell ourselves. Mine yesterday was me telling myself I’m a failure, I’m irresponsible, and I’m incapable of making commitments and smart decisions. But I am none of those things.


I am a human. I make decisions and sometimes I make mistakes, but they don’t define me. Mistakes don’t mean I’m bad. The decisions I made and will continue making are what are creating an enjoyable, full, creative, joyful life. Not every moment can be a high, and maybe you’ll even have days where you crash after trying to keep it all together for so long.


I just keep reminding myself that no one, especially myself, has the right to judge me.


On your low days, I hope you remember the same thing. When you start being hard on yourself, I hope you find a way to give yourself grace. Lord knows, I’m really trying to do the same.


So if you’re also feeling anxiety, about the state of the world or about decisions in your own life or about literally anything else, I see you. I want to reach out and give you a hug and yell at that voice inside your head that tells you you are bad. I wanna punch that voice in the face and replace it with only good thoughts and positive messages.


Know that you are loved and you are valued, no matter what. By me, and everyone around you.


Sending love and good vibes.


-ACB-


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