Did you know you could have anxiety and not even know it?
For several years I was having what I can only describe as minor heart attacks. My heart would be beating so hard and it would be a sharp, contraction-like, feeling. At that time, I knew anxiety was a thing, but I didn’t apply it to my own life. At that time, I didn’t really have much to be anxious, or worried, about. At least, not in my conscious mind. Sure, I have knowingly struggled with depression since I was quite young, but I never deemed myself as anxious.
After years of dealing with these episodes I had landed in the emergency room. I was expecting to hear that I was having heart problems, or at the very least angina. I wasn’t there very long. Long enough to get a bag of i.v. fluids and a prescription for anxiety.
“Anxiety? But, I am not anxious about anything.” I left questioning the doctor’s intelligence. I began researching anxiety disorder and, without ever realizing before, figured out how much I do relate to it.
That was about 7-8 years ago or so.
Though my anxiety has gotten a lot better, I still have my moments. The part that really gets me, is when I have no reason to feel anxious and my body has a panic attack at the most random of times.
I can be riding passenger in the car, happy as ever, and all of a sudden it hits me. I could be lying in bed, doing nothing, and feel it start to rise. There is not one specific trigger that causes these immense feelings.
My heart is racing. I get almost an adrenaline kick in my stomach (you know that feeling when you’re about to do something scary like going on a super tall roller coaster). My stomach feels like it’s trying to jump out of my throat. In a way, I feel like I am about to fly away.
It truly is hard to describe.
For the last 2 years I have been trying to work more on myself (my mental health). The first thing was finding what works to bring this anxiety down. For me, a lot of it is a mind game. I can talk myself down just by changing my thoughts. For instance when I start to think about something that brings up my anxiety, I am present in my mind and let myself know I don’t need to be afraid of the feelings and that they will pass. I will begin to think about something other than what it is that is causing me anxiety. It really can be as random as thinking about flowers.
I have a couple of songs that I sing when I start to feel the anxiety rise. They aren’t made up songs, but they are seemingly silly. I really am not sure how I got stuck on these two in particular. Either way, it usually helps bring down the intensity.
When those two things don’t work, then I use grounding techniques. Especially in the car, I will touch either the door or grab the “oh shit handle”. I have read that finding something for each of your senses helps in grounding you, bringing the intensity down.
I find, in an anxious moment, this might be too many things to focus on. If you can do one from each, then it isn’t as overwhelming, and is easier to remember.
I think a lot of people don’t understand anxiety. I firmly believe everyone experiences some form of anxiety (yes there are different types and levels). The more people understand the more help people will have access to. I encourage everyone to share their experiences and what has helped them. You never know who you may be helping.