An assessment of the past two weeks — one good, one bad.


I’ve noticed I write a lot about the physical aspects of panic attacks — the out of the blue perceptions of a clenched throat, frayed nerves, pained and seemingly inelastic lungs, and brick-brain, for example. For me, at times, a panic attack is also accompanied by a period of intense sweating, to the point that I have to change my drenched clothes after the episode has passed. (Not fun when you are trying to get out the door to go to work.)

A friend of mine commented that at least I am aware as I am experiencing these sensations as part of an attack rather than a separate ailment, which pushes some to comb medical websites, only intensifying matters.

Emotionally, panic attacks also often bring on intense feelings of fear. Some people actually think they are dying. After a panic attack, many people — including me — feel anxious for a considerable period of time.

Panic attacks are an intense version of Anxiety, which is not to diminish Anxiety itself.

Anxiety can take on many forms, some of which I am in no way qualified to write about. Let me just say that for me Anxiety still elicits negative physical aspects (e.g. shortness of breath, increased heart rate, fatigue, etc.). It also makes me fear the future and feel as if I’ve failed my past. Sometimes my Anxiety brings on real or perceived jilted or slurred speech. I feel as if I am making no sense. The attached nervousness makes me feel as if I am shaking, so I feel as if I look ridiculous.

My Anxiety also brings on depressive thoughts. Emotionally, I feel small. I feel stupid. I feel beyond insignificant. I feel as if my full essence is completely negative. I feel as if I am a drain on everyone around me.

I’m writing this post today, first, because I’ve been meaning to check in for several days. In fact, I wanted to write last week when Anxiety was not present for most of the time. I was able to display strength, confidence, purpose, and clarity. While these are characteristics I’ve often been able to show, it is very hard to activate them when you’re in the grips of Anxiety.

Thankfully, Anxiety did not mess with me until the very end of last week. I don’t know if it was good luck, a lack of triggers, or that I really convinced myself I needed to “be strong.”

Of course, I know that dealing with Anxiety also requires tons of strength, but you must direct that strength inward to make it through the ordeal as your mind and body fight your tooth and nail. For most of last week, I didn’t need to do that. Not feeling anxious allowed me to project my strength outward.

I liked last week.

This week I am not liking too much. I’ve been experiencing Anxiety daily, and, of course, I don’t want to stay in this place. I hate feeling as if I am a drain on other people. I hate feeling small and like a fool. And, I hate the fear and worry that make me wonder if every decision I try to make is the wrong one.

I have no positive ending to this post. I just needed to write it to see if it resonates with others. And, as I’ve noted before, writing is therapeutic to me.

Onward? After the Anxiety passes I’ll be able to put a period instead of a question mark after that powerful one-word sentence.


One Comment

  1. Tracey 23 April 2018 at 7:01 am

    I want to let you know that:

    1). I am with you— on your side, hoping for your happiness and sense of wholeness all the time.

    2). I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law that you and Rebecca have been grieving. I always struggle to find appropriate things to say when someone loses a person they love because there is never much comfort from the loss and sadness. Nonetheless, I hope you are able to be with the pain and sadness in the best possible way, and that support from your people offers both of you some relief and ease through the process.

    3). You are doing a ton (maybe all) of the best things you can do for yourself to deal with the anxiety attacks you keep getting. Not only do you work to manage it in the moments of high intensity, but you also name it, stay with it, reach out to other people for support and to offer support to anyone else who experiences similar things. This is not to mention all the experimentation with old and new techniques, your commitment to yoga in all its forms, and all the other healthy ways you live.

    4.) yes, your post resonates! This could be why I can’t ever seem to keep my comments on your blog brief. I can’t help but commiserate, or just to say “yes! I know this and experience it too—and now I have to name every single detail of it!”.

    The physical affects of anxiety you describe feeling sound a lot worse than what I’ve experienced. But I do understand the sense of embarrassment and shame you feel when it comes on. The last medication increase I had (about 2 months ago) caused a pretty moderate (moderate on the Tracey scale of intensity) surge of anxiety that lasted about 2 weeks. I was able to manage it likely because it was strictly a physical anxiety. For once it was not accompanied with fear or anger, which made it far easier to manage than usual. Nonetheless, I was aware of all the internal reasoning I had to do to keep my thoughts rational and focused on what I needed to be doing. I noticed that my patience with people was at least 50%, or less, of its normal reserve levels, and my buttons became oh so easy to push. I also think that my buttons increased in number. I could tell that much of my energy was getting used to manage my thinking and my physical behavior. It took a lot of self control to not pace, wring my hands, fidget, make faces, or let my eyes shift all over the place (at least this was what I felt like I was preventing). It was a struggle to be still. This restlessness and my shortened patience are what I didn’t want anyone else to see. When I would get angry, my behavior is passive-aggressive—the result of a life-time of hiding anger. I am embarrassed by my shortened fuse, heightened sensitivity to peoples’ behaviors, my lack of self control, and the fact that it comes out as passive aggressive—it feels so dishonest and immature. When I think other people recognize my behavior, I feel ashamed. I find I need others to step in and help out when I should be able to handle things myself. (These are the messages I tell myself). And that I am unreliable when it comes to handling difficult situations.

    When my anxiety is fear based, I react by freezing. I can’t think. I go on autopilot. Autopilot always tells me to give people or tell people whatever they want at any cost. Then they will go away peacefully. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, my reaction is always the same. Afterwards (even while it’s happening, while I feel powerless to respond “correctly”), I feel so incompetent, weak, incapable, my self respect goes down the toilet.

    5). I find it so helpful and reassuring when my therapist reminds me that when I have a depressive dip, it is a self-feeding problem, and it spirals exponentially when we are not able to recognize that we are having negative thoughts/feelings about having negative thoughts and feelings. He reminds me that in a depressive episode, all my healthy practices go out the window because they are actually harder to maintain when energy is low. All the negative ways I feel about myself for abandoning my healthy practices are also part of the messed up brain chemistry that is making me depressed in the first place. I’m not really all those terrible things I think and say about myself (usually lazy, weak, failure come to mind). It’s the depression talking, and my job is to try remember to recognize their falseness and that they aren’t an accurate reflection of reality. It seems so elementary when I read it back to myself, yet it is so hard to put to practice! The way you word things in your blog suggests your awareness of your feelings as feelings and a mere symptom of anxiety. In support of your efforts to manage those feelings, I want you to know that when I think of Michael Dahl, these are some of the words that come to mind: brilliant, mentor, strong, dedicated, wise, effective, capable, kind, compassionate, friend. I hope you can use them to recall when those other, untrue words and feelings so insidiously sneak up on you in the future.

    keep taking care!


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