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