Not long ago, Anxiety started working to take over my body and brain. At first I noticed I was pacing. Then, I sensed a shortness in my breath. Soon thereafter my lungs began to feel as if all the air coming in during those short breaths was mixed with lead. My chest did not tighten up or even feel an acute pain as it sometimes does. It just felt heavy.
I tried to think about mantras I could whisper while I tried to meditate. Those mantras I’ve been toying with lately, at the moment, feel/felt tailored for different situations. A suggested mantra from a friend, Rogier — “This too shall pass.” — is true and could eventually prove helpful to me. But I haven’t yet figured out how make it hit the right switch in my brain.
Then the felt-Anxiety spread. My throat became constricted. Not at a level that breathing was painful, but in a manner that matched the heaviness of my lungs. And then my brain began to feel the Anxiety. It feels/felt as if cement is/was sloshing around in my brain.
“Do a headstand, Michael!” Perhaps getting some more blood to my brain will help. So I did about a minute of a headstand and started to feel better. But the “cure” only lasted for about five minutes. (I can’t do headstands every five minutes today; I’m heading to work soon.) Then all the feelings I was having before came back to haunt me.
One brain trick that can work during the onset of Anxiety is to ask yourself “Why?” For some time this morning, that often helpful question did not seem like a good idea. A flood of reasons joined the cement in my brain. I just got overwhelmed.
I know I’m not supposed to, but right now I am feeling ashamed … embarrassed. “Why me?” I asked silently. Oh well, that’s at least given me a reason to use that mantra: “Show yourself the same kindness, patience, and understanding you would afford someone else experiencing a similar situation.” Intellectually, I know this is how I should feel. I can even say that thinking that mantra for a little while did reduce the shame somewhat.
But here I am, my respiratory system and part of my nervous system feeling weighed down and useless for anything proactive.
But then, finally, a small thing changed inside me. As I’m typing these words, my brain has begun to focus on the question of “Why?” What triggered this onset of Anxiety? Thankfully, and unconsciously, my mind has discarded some of the possibilities. It’s even focused in on a few culprits. So I guess that’s helpful. The flood of “why”-triggers turned into a trickling stream.
Today I’m starting work late because I’ll be in Mankato for an evening event. Rebecca has the day off, so she was out for some early morning tasks while all this was happening to me.
She’s just returned. She asks how I am doing; I reply, “Not good.” She says calmly, “I’ve got some stories to tell you.”
Oh please let the storytelling distract my brain and force Anxiety to head somewhere else for the day.