Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

This past week has not been a fun one for me, to say the very least. The start of this one is better, but not by much. Anxiety has a way of doing that to me. I'm on edge all of the time, waiting for the next wave to come my way. 

Mostly, it's been physical. I feel like someone has taken a belt and tied it around my chest, tightening and loosening it at random moments. I feel the same sort of nerves l do before I'm about to do this major presentation, except for no discernible reason whatsoever. Everything will be tense: my shoulders, my chest, the muscles in my eyebrows. And then it will hurt when I breathe, and the more I try to breathe, the shorter my breath feels. Yet sometimes, the panic hits me all at once, and I have to go into a bathroom stall to wait it out. Then, it doubles me over and I hyperventilate. That's only happened once this week, but it was exhausting.
Usually, a panic attack happens when the thoughts in my head too much. They make me freeze up like a computer with too many browsers open. This panic attack seemed random, but I believe it was a delayed reaction to my anxiety over driving to school by myself for the first time (I was feeling one come on the road, but I did everything I could to suppress it, because obviously having a panic attack on the road is really, really dangerous. It was pretty much the only time I was able to do that, though).

I've been getting some of the thoughts too. They used to be really bad when I was younger, with different thoughts of how minor things would lead to some cataclysmic, horrible catastrophe. I'm not sure what's coming first in the situation (I guess it's like the chicken and the egg), but it still sucks. 

The actual anxiety part is one thing, but it has quite an awful byproduct: my insomnia, which leads to my sleepiness during the day. It's such a frustrating feeling to stare up at the ceiling with bleary eyes trying (no, praying) to fall asleep, especially knowing the result that the lack of sleep will have. It's even worse when, as I try to fall asleep, I think of something and can't stop thinking about it and then it's even worse. The next day, I'll drink some tea to keep me awake, and that will work for the next two periods until the caffeine wears off and I crash. Literally, I crash within a number of minutes. When that happens, my eyelids become bowling balls and it's a struggle to keep them open. They flutter and as they do, my vision starts to swim. Things start to move around the room and duplicate. Every other muscle becomes heavy too, so I can't get up. It is a battle of wills that I inevitably lose and my body forces me to sleep until something will wake me up. Then the cycle repeats. I literally have no control over my body in those moments. Insomnia has been my enemy long before my mental health problems started, but still. Driving to school has helped me gain hours of precious sleep time, but this still happens.

I'm not quite sure why these past two weeks have evoked these feelings of panic more than any other time has. I have a few guesses, but I'm not quite sure. It doesn't actually quite matter, because either way that it sucks. But that's what anxiety is.

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