So today is going to get real..so let’s get to it.
My truth is that I have been struggling with anxiety and depression for going on 20 years. Some days are better than others, but the others really do kick the ever loving shit out of me. Up until recently I have always put on the brave face and acted like nothing was wrong. If you saw me at a 9 am meeting with bags under my eyes and a coffee the size of my ass you would think I would have just had a fun night the night before. Truth would be I was probably up all night crying on the floor of my bathroom struggling to breathe. Trying to figure out why and getting more and more upset and frustrated because I couldn’t pinpoint it.
If you truly have never experienced a panic attack let me break it down. Depends on how severe they are..but for me it starts as a slow bubbling of nerves. Feeling agitated, frustrated or maybe even angry but not sure exactly why. The more I think about it the worse it gets. Then the tears start to flow. Hopefully at this point I’m at home or at least can get to a private or semi private place. (I could write a whole post on my pubic place freak-outs but another day another time.) Once the tears start to flow I worry about who will notice and how to hide. That’s when the real fun begins. At this point I feel like the whole world knows and everyone is watching me. Heart and chest starts to pound and race. Breathing shortens and the big gasps of air start to come. If it’s a really good one my vision may start to get blurry and then the spins come, along with losing feeling in my toes and fingers from lack of oxygen. During this whole ordeal my only thought at the moment is I quiet possibly will die from this. Of course that has not happened but every damn time that’s the end result in my head. These can last anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour. In your head though it feels like seconds are minutes. I have worked on coping skills to help shorten them and try and fend them off the best I can but not all of these little bastards can be tamed.
If you can relate than you know. I have a few people in my life that come from the “snap out of it” mentality and do not quite understand just how hard it is to do just that. I also want to scream “OH!!!!..I never thought to just snap out of it. Let me try that.” I know they probably mean well and wish me no harm but damn…That’s the wrong thing to say to someone.
When they first started coming on a lot of it was mostly situational. Like something actually happened to get me worried or sad or stressed. What is actually kind of scary is now they come on out of nowhere. I could be having a fantastic day and then boom..panic attack. I do have a few things I still struggle with so my guess is that is part of it. I’ll get into those in another post but my hope is once I work though those they will start to be less often.
I do have a prescription for Xanax that I do take for when they come on. I have gone up in dosage over the years but I try and tough it out without them sometimes to just feel somewhat in control and not dependent. I just don’t want it to be my go to. I want to learn to control and minimize instead of masking it with pills. Not above taking it though. Sometimes as my blog title states. Fuck it.. take the pill and keep it moving.
Here is a short list of things that tend to help me come out of them sooner. These are just my things but I would love to hear others thoughts and ways. Maybe we can learn other coping skills to help each other.
- Find a quiet space. If I am anywhere other than my home I try and look for a place where I can get out of the way. I need quiet because sometimes the outside stimulation makes it worse. I need to quiet and calm my brain so I need a place that will allow me to do that. I have had them in stores before and I will try and get back out to my car or a bathroom. (big shout out to bathroom designers that make a full room with full door. Not the open bathroom stalls with the cracks big enough where people can see in and out.) If I am at home..I tend to gravitate to my bathroom. Small spaces is my go to. I have even sat in my small shower stall. The smaller the better. I feel more in control of the small space around me and feel a bit safer.
- If home I have an icepack or cooling towel in my freezer at all times. I tend to overheat so having that cool item next to your chest or even forehead help me regulate my body temp. If I am out in public I may dip into the bathroom if I’m not already in there and just wet a paper towel and blot around my face or put it on my wrists.
- If in public and I’ve found my quiet place or even if I could not find one I will pop my earbuds in and use a soothing app like Calm or Headspace to listen to meditation or a follow along breathing technique to help calm down. Something about a British accent is super soothing. HA! If at home I have Alexa set up with soothing sounds and the apps above to talk to me while I calm myself down.
- Worst case take my Xanax if it’s getting worse or if it’s lasting longer than I am comfortable with. If I’m still struggling after a half hour after trying my self soothing ideas I will take one.
Bonus tip…Once you are actually calmed down.. please still take it easy if you can. If at work or out and about. Buy yourself something soothing as a treat. Starbucks is my go too. If you can take a minute to just gather your thoughts and sip on something you love it will help get you back to somewhat normal. Doing something you love or enjoy can help feel like you again and know that you made it and are going to be ok. If I’m at home I put on something comfy and fuzzy socks and do my dirty little secret I talked about here. This helps me calm down and focus on something else that I enjoy.
The tips I just listed are the things that help me but everyone has their own way of dealing with things. The main thing is to just really be aware of your surroundings and feelings and you do what YOU need to do to make it to the other side. Don’t let anyone ever tell you to snap put of it. The main goal is to get through it and understand that it will pass. It may not feel like it at the time and nothing will make sense but you are strong and will make it. I promise.
So that is part 1 of 2 of the things that messes with me. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the depression side of things that likes to take over when the panic attacks are not happening. It’s always nice to keep my mind busy. HAHAHA.