Yesterday evening my good old acquaintance anxiety paid me a surprise visit. We were already lying in bed, everything was quiet, I was about to nodd off, when suddenly a fuse in my head blew. From 0 to 200 in less than a second. My heart pounded wildly, I couldn’t breathe, the thought “That’s it! I’m dying!” made me get up and stumble away from my bed. I have no idea where I wanted to go, I didn’t get far anyway: I broke down sobbing and blabbering nonsense at the door. Meanwhile, my husband had woken up, made me get up and tried to calm me down. I pushed him away, stumbled to the window, noticed that snow had fallen, and stumbled on aimlessly through the dark room. Then, as if a plug had been pulled, it was over. I could breathe again, and my heart rate dropped. We went to bed again and slept. When it’s over, it’s over, and we both are used to these things.
My anxiety has many faces. Sometimes, she comes over for a quick visit, like yesterday. Sometimes, she stays for a few ours. Or she tells her sister agitation to pay me a visit, who likes to stay for a few days. I don’t know when it will happen. I know that some factors, like stress, make it more likely that I suffer from an anxiety attack. Meds make anxiety attacks happen less frequently, and they help me to calm down, but they don’t make it go away completely.
This short and violent anxiety attacks are the worst. I’m fine, and next thing I know I am drowning in a vortex of emotions. No med works this fast, I can only hope it wears off quickly. If an episode builds up slowly, I can stop it with breathing exercises, Reiki or try distraction. But I can’t fight against an attack from nowhere.
I am used to a feeling of dread from my early childhood. My first real anxiety attack happened in primary school during a lesson of physical education. We were sitting on the floor and listening to the teacher, when suddenly everything closed in on me… I saw one of the open windows, and I knew I had to get out. The teacher allowed me to step out for a while. The dreadful feeling soon passed, and I wondered what just happened…
Until my sixteenth birthday, I rarely had anxiety attacks. Then it hit me with a vengeance again, when I was sitting in a train on the way to my grandmother. I cant’t breathe, my heart stops beating, I am about to drop dead. Somehow I managed to get off the train, took a taxi to my grandmother, and called my parents to come and get me. Fear gradually took over all of my life, until I didn’t leave home anymore.
Speak therapy, in-patient stays at Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and living in a therapeutic children’s home for eight months pushed the anxiety back – for now. She reared her ugly head from time to time, but I could ignore her.
Until it came back in 2005. This time it took me of guard, while I was driving in my car. All I could do was pull over and wait till it was over. Luckily nobody got hurt. From this day, anxiety refused to leave my side. No therapy, in patient hospital stay or meds made it go away completely. And anxiety brought her brother, depression.
I have accepted that anxiety always will be a part of my life. I learned not to live in constant fear of fear. I will never get used to it, though.