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Living With Anxiety

I get in my car and drive to the store. As I open the car door, my heart starts to pound heavily. I look at the people walking in and out and I start to slowly skip breaths.  I dart my eyes around the parking lot as I head in and see several people sitting in their cars, no doubt waiting for a spouse or friend to do their shopping but staring at me as I walk in. The double doors slide open bringing a smell of deli food and bread.

Is that person staring at me?
Did those girls just laugh?
I swear everyone is judging me.
Did that person just look at me twice?
Oh God. I gotta get out of here.

I divert my attention to my phone. If I can’t see anyone, then I can’t see them staring. I grab my items and quickly leave. I get to the car out of breath and nearly in tears. Panic is setting in. I can’t breathe. My finger tips are tingling. There is a huge weight on my chest that is stopping me from breathing.  I’m going to have a heart attack and die right here. Everyone will see it. Will the paramedics know to call my family? People are staring.  My vision starts to blur. I’m dying.

After 20 minutes, the Clonidine taken earlier, kicks in. I start to relax and forget those around me. I start the car and drive home. I feel angry at myself for losing control emotionally and for not holding it together. Even if I  did make it home alive with my groceries.

Anxiety and panic is real. It’s debilitating. It can be triggered by anything. We can’t ask the world around us to change therefore, it’s up to the person with the disorder to learn how to cope.  I’m still learning and I’ve made huge strides. I wrote this blog in hopes that people know that others do understand what you are going through. I want you to know you’re not alone…even if it seems like the loneliest place in the world.

 

 

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The Case of The What Ifs

what if

What if I can’t let go of the what ifs?

I am the poster child of what ifs. I live my life by it. Try to stay with me for a moment while I invite you into my thought process of panic created by what if.

Son: “Mom, I’m going out. Can I take the car?”

Me: “Sure! Be home before midnight.”

Son: “Ok. Thanks! Love you!”

Seems pretty normal, right? Then my mind starts to swirl as soon as I hear the front door close.

What if he gets a flat tire? What if he loses control? What if he wrecks? What if someone hits him? What if I will never know because he’s driving alone?

Then after the what ifs, pictures enter my mind. The car is tipped over. The seat belt is stuck. The engine is running. Gas is spewing. He’s not able to get out!!

Then…he texts me, “Made it! Love you.”

My anxiety runs high. He still has to drive home!

Think about the anxiety’s you have and how much they control the way you live life. Ever feel better with even numbers? How about when pictures on the wall are crooked? Or when books on a bookshelf are out of order alphabetically? Those are a few that drive me nuts. If you were asked to stop paying attention to those, would you? COULD you?

My “what if” keeps me and those around me, prisoner. I feel like my kids and family can’t breathe because I am smothering them with….But! But! WHAT IF?! It’s a way for me to convince myself that I’m in control. If I can predict what MAY happen, I’m better off. In other words, if something happens that’s too much for me to handle, I can tell myself that I was prepared because I what if’d it. My therapist brought up a good question, “what is the difference between being able to deal with things that may or may not happen and managing it?”  To me, dealing with it means I shrug my shoulders as if no big deal and move on. Just thinking about that makes me feel accomplished and peaceful. Managing is a form of attempting to fix it when it happens without being prepared (emotionally much more difficult.). I use the word “it” loosely and what I mean by “it” is the situations, happenings (tragic or joyful) and so on, that happen in everyday life.  Like, what if this blog ends and I haven’t said everything I want to say?  Oh those nasty what ifs.

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