Friday, August 17, 2007

Facing My Fears

Usually, a lot of people will view my anxiety disorder as if something provoked or triggered it. Sometimes it’s triggered by an incident, but in most cases, they're subconscious thoughts or concerns that I can’t even figure out myself. The thoughts are so hidden, yet so visible on the outside. Doctors will explain that it’s a chemical imbalance. That’s true, but in most cases, I believe they’re subconscious worries that try to hide. It’s like an elephant trying to hide behind a tree.

The most visible signs I give off while having a panic attack are rubbing my neck, scratching near my ear or picking my cuticles. It’s a nervous habit. I guess it’s to deter people from knowing I’m freaking out at the time. I must admit, I haven’t ventured off to the supermarket in a long time. Instead, I’ve been going to the farm market. It’s small, the people know me and it has everything I need…well most things. Today, I plan on going to the big supermarket. The last couple of days, I’ve been plagued with high anxiety. I haven’t been doing so well. In fact, yesterday I was in bed all day. I’m not even exaggerating. When I get a really bad panic attack, the next day or two plagues me with fatigue and body aches, much like the flu. Since I slept all day yesterday and a full night’s rest last night, I’m feeling 100% today. Why not challenge myself!

There are many friends and acquaintances in my life who view me as this strong woman who can do anything. They see a woman with strength and the ability to take on the world. It’s so far from the truth. I don’t even know if I want to live up to those expectations. Maybe that’s why I have anxiety? Maybe people put too many expectations upon me? Maybe blaming them will help my anxiety?

The one thing I could never figure out was why doctors prescribed antidepressants to people who have panic attacks. Why give people an upper when they need something to calm them down? Now, some doctors do prescribe Ativan (Lorazapam) or Xanax to relieve their symptoms, but it’s basically a band-aid to mask the anxiety. I finally figured out on my own, that when the anxiety attacks kick in, there is a day or two for recovery, which can lead into depression. The thought of an anxiety attack that lasts for 2 minutes to 3 hours (depending on the person), can leave you immobilized for a day or two. Those days of recovery, I usually find myself thinking, “I’ll never live a normal life again and I’ll never be able to do everyday things that normal people do.” I give myself negative dialog that nearly consumes me. This often leaves me feeling depressed and down about my life. So, I can see where the antidepressants come in handy---but as I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m against those types of medications.

What I feel is most important, is finding friends and family who can understand my anxiety. If someone close to you doesn’t understand anxiety, then educate him or her. When somebody asks me, “Why are you having anxiety,” I can’t help but experience more symptoms, because I’m not in the mood to explain "why". I don't even know why. Most people in my life are aware that it can happen anywhere or anytime. It’s not noticeable to the average person witnessing me going through this, but to my close friends and family, they know by the way I am rubbing my neck or fidgeting. I usually ask them quietly if we can leave or I ride it out trying to do my breathing exercises in a discrete manner. I usually opt for riding out the storm, because I know it’ll pass. I’ve been through one too many of these attacks to know that there’s no need to call 911. I realize that it’s going to feel awkward and uncomfortable for maybe 5-10 minutes, but I’ll be okay. I’m not going to die from this.

Say if this took place in a supermarket, then I would avoid going to that supermarket for a few weeks. Anywhere I experience the anxiety attack, I would avoid for a period of time. There are times where I’m at the gym, and my heart will palpitate while I’m on the elliptical. I go inside the locker room, put some cold water on my face, drink water and then sit on the bench for about 15 minutes. The scary part is driving home. Will I get the palpitations while driving? And of course, I would avoid the gym for a while. So, today, I’m tackling that one too.

I’m trying my hardest to live a normal life again. It has worsened over the past 6 months or so. I can’t figure out why or point my finger on what, but I don’t want it to take over my life. I’ll update you tomorrow about how it went and let you know what I experienced while facing my fears. I have to fight it.

Then I remembered a beautiful passage from the bible that has always comforted me:

Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. ~1 John 4:18


Art said...

Good luck with the shopping. It's amazing what we take for granted. I'm praying for you, Deb!

Amy said...

I love that scripture at the end. It wasn't till recently I discovered that having someone to talk to helps me with my fears. I truly love this post.

~Deb said...

Art: I tackled down going to the I'm getting ready to head over to the grocery store. Thank you SO much for your prayers! I appreciate it!

Amy: It's having that person who understands you, or at least tries to understand what you're going through is what matters. Thanks, Amy!

Leesa said...

wow, sweetie, I hope you do well. I don't have agoraphobia, but I sometimes do not do well in crowds. I remember going to some convention - mostly going as a reward at work. I really did not have the type of job that needed exposure or contacts.

First night was a mixer. I put on a LBD, and I went downstairs. Hundreds of people I did not know. I ended up walking around for five minutes, my pulse rate increased, I found it hard to breathe and I walked quickly to the nearest exit.

I eventually made it back to my room - I was a tad disoriented. I got undressed, and got into a warm bath where I read a book for a couple of hours. I called room service for my meal and I ate it alone. I did not venture forth that night.

The next day was better, but there were far fewer people there and it was daylight.

The terror I felt must be a smidgen of what you feel. I feel for you, babes.

thewishfulwriter said...


rooting for you over here. :)

that's a wonderful passage. i've printed it for my own use. we all have fears that manifest themselves in different ways.

thanks for sharing yours so openly.

Good luck today!

Dan said...

Doctors will explain that it’s a chemical imbalance. That’s true, but in most cases, I believe they’re subconscious worries that try to hide

So true! I recently read that the connection between chemicals and mood isn't just one way. It's both ways. So, for instance, while chemicals can cause us to feel down, and certain medication can help to bring us back by changing the brain chemistry, if we think more positively, that actually makes us feel better and this changes the brain chemistry!

Strange but true. And there are scientific studies to back this.

Hugs Deb! Have a great weekend!

Samantha said...

I used to suffer anxiety attacks as well, but now I mostly just feel sick. I just get crippled with nausea and have to stay in and lie down until I feel better, which can minutes, hours, days. I can't wait to hear about your supermarket experience, they used to be my worst as well.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I also have suffered panic attacks. Now I am learning my triggers. I was given Xanaz and that other one for a while, but I gave them back--I didn't like how they made me feel. But I do know about fear and how it makes me not do the things I long to do. My behavior just manifests it in different ways. Thanks for this.

Sandy said...

I say that verse "For God had not given us a spirit of fear but of love and of peace and of a sound mind," over and over again when my anxiety attack is really bad.

I remember having one when working and I was having lunch with a bunch of my co-workers...I was sitting there thinking, "I'm going to go crazy right here in front of everyone, OMG I'M GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!"

I excused myself and took some deep breaths and eventually calmed down. IT'S SO AWFUL!

~Deb said...

It’s really fascinating how many people have anxiety and experience them in different ways. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. It makes me feel a bit more normal, knowing that I’m not alone. And it’s not a ’misery loves company’ type of thing, it’s just nice knowing there’s people like “me” out there who understand.

I did get to go to the gym and finally made it to the grocery store! I’m feeling a lot better. Thank you so much for all your support!!!

My internet provider had a huge outage for 2 days. I couldn't log on- so I apologize for the delayed response.

Todd HellsKitchen said...

Have a great weekend... said...

i, too, suffer from these. sometimes they creep up insidiously ... like a sort of inertia (inability to bring oneself to do ... whatever it is). sometimes i get the horrible sensation of my soul literally wanting to jump out of my body.

i had a panic attack thursday night ... a giant one that lasted all night. it was fever-induced, i think. still .. regardless of the trigger ... the question is how to ride it out. this latest attack i had really tripped me out - i actually heard myself wishing for death to escape the horror i felt. i fell asleep with the rosary in my hand. and yes .. i prayed most of the night for relief from that terror.

the anxiolytics seem to mask the problem ... and they are an easy danger, in a way.

thanx for sharing this.

glad you're feeling better. it does take the wind from your sails, doesn't it?

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I am sorry you have such a burden to carry. My Dad has horrible panic attacks and I have taken him to the emergency room more than once because his blood pressure shot up so high I was scared to death. Using the Scriptures as a mantra to breathe through the attack is a great idea!
The field of neruopsychology has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade - so much more is known about how the chemistry of the brain works and I am hopeful that you and others who suffer from this will have really effective, helpful treatment available -SOON!

SJ said...

AbracaDebra you are OK now :)

The usually silent reader said...

Its a mystery sometimes what triggers my panic attacks. I dont believe in medication as a form of treatment for them. Although they temporarily solve the panic attack situation, its just a quick fix to the problem at hand. I have noticed over the years that lighting, and temperature play a big part in my panic attacks. I hate when its too hot in a room or building that always starts them for me. Certain lighting such as schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. seem to play a big part also. You will get through them.