Anxiety Strikes

This one goes out to anyone who has ever felt like the world is closing in on them. Because I’ve never really felt that way, until recently. I’ve always felt in control, felt like I knew where I was going even when I was lost, felt like a kick-ass bitch who’s not going to take shit from no one, until I didn’t. Until I felt like I was inferior, like I was stupid, like I was just some girl with a university degree who knew nothing. I felt flat, low, unmotivated, uneasy, unwell. Yesterday I woke up with this sickening feeling in my stomach, like butterflies on speed circling endlessly in my gut. I was dreading facing the day, I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was then I knew that something was wrong, something had shifted. I was having an anxiety attack.

It’s hard to identify at first, I kept telling myself it must be something I’d eaten, or maybe my hormones, or maybe I was still hungover from the weekend (wouldn’t be surprised). But reality is, I’ve taken on too much in the past few weeks, and all the little things I have held on to were starting to stack up to become one big pile of stress. It was an unusual feeling for me, to feel like things were out of hand, to feel like I was down and unable to get back up. I usually talk about things, I usually write them down, but for the past few weeks I have put my own sanity second. Second to the needs of others around me, not intentionally, but on some level, I have forgotten how to look after myself and let things really hit me on a personal level.

A good friend of mine always tells me to live life like Elsa from Frozen and just “let it go”. But sometimes its hard to just let it go. Sometimes the little things are the hardest to let go, and you end up holding onto a bunch of little things. Now anyone who’s ever gone into a supermarket thinking they don’t need a carry basket because they’re only getting one thing, but end up picking up at least 16 other sale items on the way through will know that holding onto a bunch of little things is hard. It’s a balancing act. You have them stacked up to your chin, hoping that no one comes past and bumps you, praying that someone will let you through the the register first because the struggle is real, because god help you if you drop it all over the floor in a spectacular fashion (clean up aisle 4). Thats what anxiety feels like to me, dropping my problems all over the floor unexpectedly when I can balance them no more. This is how I felt. The past few weeks have been my balancing act, and yesterday it all came tumbling down on top of me. It sucks.

But how do you fix it? Do you just bend down and pick up all the pieces and stack them back up in your arms? Or do you ask for help? Do you reach out for a clean up? I like to think of myself as being a problem solver, I think of myself as being self sufficient and independent. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s ego. Regardless of what it is, one thing I’ve learnt is you should never be too proud to ask for help. It shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, reaching out for help is a part of life, it’s why we are pack animals and not a lone wolf. I reached out yesterday, to my closest friends, to people I knew would understand. A good friend of mine gave me some good advice; I have to learn that I cannot control everything. She also told me to write down what was bothering me, and decide whether these were things I could, or couldn’t control. And so I did. I made a list (a three page list) of all the things that were on my mind, and next to these I decided whether they were things I could control, or whether they were things I could not.

The results? Metaphorically, I had way too many groceries stacked up in my arms. It was actually kind of frightening how many things I had on my mind. No wonder the butterflies felt like they were on speed, there were thousands in there. So I culled the list. I went through and analysed what was actually causing me stress and whether they were things that were in my control. Most of them weren’t (surprised?). I then went through and made a list of things I could do to change this, my actions list. I don’t want to be someone who’s state of mind deteriorates because I continue to take on more than I can handle. I need to find ways to cut the stress. I need to remember to be selfish sometimes and do things that make me happy, and also remember to reach out for help when I’m feeling in the pits. I feel like part of the weight has been lifted today, I’m definitely not out of it, but I’m working towards it, one grocery item at a time.

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