Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taming the Tortured Mind

I’ve found that in my recent years I’ve become severely inclined to anxiety attacks.

I’m talking heart pounding, cold sweats, hands shaking, feeling like I’m going to go absolutely insane type attacks and I don’t know why.

I can pinpoint the exact night it all began; close to a year ago, laying in my bed, after consuming one too many margaritas, and watching the minutes on the clock tick closer and closer to my impending workday at 7am. Breathing erratically, sweating profusely, feeling as if I was literally at the crux of death. It was hands down the worst night of my life.

And ever since then the panic seems to follow me. It’s not a consistent everyday sort of thing but it’s enough to make me hate that it ever developed.

I’m fully aware that the loss of a job, income, stability, (and sometimes sanity) can do that to a person…produce unwarranted reactions in the human mind but I can’t help but wonder why now? Why me?

I realize that much of it stems from stress. Worry and anxiety over the unknown. The problems that greet me with each new day and the ones that inevitably lie before me. I know that worrying does nothing. Solves nothing. It’s a clichéd piece of advice I toss out unknowingly on any given day when the Boo or a friend fall victim to the same reckless, raucous invasion of the mind.

How will I pay my bills this month? When will I finally have money to go to the doctor? Will it be too late by then? Will I ever find another job? Have I completely let down my family? Will I ever make new friends? Is this really going to work? Were four years of college a complete waste of time? Do I even have anything to offer? When will things get better? If ever?

So much to think about. So much to grapple with. And yet knowing the consequences of over taxation, I can’t seem to shut it all off. I can’t seem to just take a deep breath and know that things will be alright.

I tell the Boo over and over that they will be ok. That WE will be ok. But what if they don’t? What if we’re not?

How do you balance between the insanity of worry and the serenity of hope? How do you compartmentalize the realist emotions with the optimistic? Is the dichotomy betwixt the two nonnegotiable?

(And yes, I just said “betwixt”. Eff off. I’m flexing my contemplative, introspective muscles.)

Help me if you can cause this little heart of mine is racing.


insomniaclolita said...

I try to meditate when I'm like that, it not always works but still. Or I distract myself by doing fun things. Sometimes we just have to let some things be , especially if we've been working hard to get what we want. Things wont likely turn wrong if we put efforts to what we do, that's what I try to believe.

S. said...

oh i have totally been there! four of my five years in college had be dealing with horrible anxiety attacks. first and foremost: you are not alone. everyone has those thoughts and worries. it is how you deal with them that determines how you physically react to those stressors. it is hard to keep under control and when things just keep piling up, attacks occur. while i was totally against it at first, i highly recommend talking to someone. someone who has no bias or past with you who can give you specific tips on how to control your anxiety. it sounds corney, but it really does work. i was loosing weeks of sleep and the person i talked to help me manage those thoughts that kept me awake at night. everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. hang in there. it will get better. and i'll pray for you. :)

The Demigoddess said...

I'm in the same situation now with my new job. I get performance anxiety attacks and the only cure is to work harder and check constantly with my senior manager on my performance. It helps eliminate the source of the anxiety. Finding out what triggers an anxiety attack and managing that usually helps me.

Shannon said...

This is why we met. This post right here. Email me if you're serious, because I live with severe anxiety. I've been put on meds for it before, so I know ALL about it.

Kylie said...

I had my very first panic attack at 21 in a huge club packed with tons of people. I have had several since then. I really have no good advice because I can't control my own attacks. But my best advice is that you are not alone. I take anxiety meds now and they help but mostly I just have to talk myself into being OK. They suck though, so I do feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

My heart hurts for you right now. I'm so sorry that you feel this way. I feel completely under qualified to give you advice on the anxiety issue, but if you want to talk please don't hesitate to email me.

I think we all struggle with the balance between optimism and realism. However, I think optimism is most important during times when it feels like our everyday realities leave little room for optimism. I don't think that being optimistic should be equated with denying your problems, but rather with adjusting to them while seeking opportunities for progress.

In your own situation, I think you need to have faith in your own abilities. You are a wonderful person with a lot to offer, and I think you should trust that you WILL find a job that's right for and will provide you with everything that you need. It might just take more time than you'lre comfortable with. Please, please don't give up hope.

Do you know the serenity prayer? "...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." It reminds me that we must always set to work on what we CAN change or improve in our lives.

I'm going to stop typing because now I'm just rambling, but you know where to find me if you want to chat. xoxo

Courtney said...

Aw honey, I'm so sorry things are sucking it up big time for you right now :( The only real advice I feel like I can give is this song: Three Little Birds by Bob Marley. Go lay on your bed (or even better, the beach since your one lucky duck to live so close!) and play this song on REPEAT. It's a mantra that cures all anxiety :)

Kyla Roma said...

I suffered from really severe anxiety from the time I was 13 or so up until three years ago. Any situation when I didn't know exactly what to expect would put me into a tail spin, and then some of the time it was purely random. I would be reading a book and suddenly I couldn't breath anymore.

I feel your pain, please feel free to email me (

In the moment the most important thing to remember is you can't die. You will start breathing again. No one has ever died from a panic attack. As for managing the anxiety, honestly I've become a real planner.

My biggest tip is make a list of all your concerns & come up with solutions for all of them. If you're worrying about having let down your family, make them all dinner & you'll feel like you're helping. If you're worrying about money, start budgeting & making a financial plan. Find out how much you would have to work at a grocery store or coffee shop to balance your budget if you got laid off. If you're worrying about your college, list pros and cons for your time there or meet with a career councilor.

There aren't answers for all of the questions you have, but you can change how they make you feel. And honestly? Work out. Anything physical you can do, running, yoga, cardio at home, anything physical will burn your nervous energy and channel it physically. Soemtimes listening to a podcast and going for a 40 min. walk is the best thing you can do for yourself.

For a long time I would make notes on how I was during the day, what made me feel anxious, what triggered me - and then I would work out how to change my approach to those situations on paper. It's not about avoiding, it's about being pro-active & giving yourself something concrete to feel positive about. After a year or two of doing that I figured myself out & was able to stop the anxiety. I still have attacks here and there, but they're 4 or 5 months apart and getting further apart still. For me, that's fantastic.

Matt said...

Anxiety is one of the reasons I drink.


Im the same way... I stress alot when I shouldnt.

LiLu said...

Oh, love. I totally suffer from these too. It's been worse lately- a couple months ago I had an out and out attack and had to have my Dr. call in some emergency Klonopin so I could get through work. I actually wrote a post trying to describe what it was like... but it was so bleak and depressing I never posted it. I hear you, though. I will say that I don't take the Klonopin often (and it's very mild and non-addictive anyway), but just knowing that little bottle is there makes me feel so much better, like I have an "out" if I do start to freak out. Wishing you the best, darling... and thanks for the 20SB nom! I SO appreciate it!

kellymarie said...

I always wonder if college was worth it...was any of it worth it. I myself have contemplated going to talk to someone because sometimes I feel my chest tighten so much I cannot breathe. It's nice to know, in a way, that I'm not alone...but what a sad population we all must be to be struggling so much with the day-to-day. :\

I always try to read the poem Desiderata whenever I get really bad...sometimes it helps...momentarily. haha

Lil' Woman said...

I feel that way sometimes...I tell Big Man everything will be alright but sometimes it's even hard to be sure my self.

Because I'm a lame and I like to make to do list, I do that and when I croos something off it makes me feel much better and a bit more accomplished.

but I also agree with the other girls answers. Esp. the Bob Marley one! :)

cJs said...

i am exactly the same and i hve even tried anti-anxiety meds (herbal of course)and even tho they calm my heart thye don't get rid of the cause.

u r not alone in this and altho i don't hve the answers, i find it helps to do something i enjoy eg dancing. i dance around my house and soon i sounds crazy in the middle of the night but u release happy hormones and u will be exhausted.

and a good laugh doesn't hurt either. believe it or not u will survive this.

PorkStar said...

I like the title of your blog. IO used to have them too but anti dp and something else helped me control that shit....


jeanette said...

I haven't ever personally experienced that, so I'm sure any advice I give won't be too useful... but I had a friend who had them and he would play Dr. Mario to calm himself down... worth a shot?

Danielle said...

I think finding something that you can do daily that will not allow you to think about anything else would be helpful. Whether its exercise (something tough that you have to focus on) or something else that challenges your mind. I had one anxiety attack when I was in high school and it was Horrible. I also had stress related migraine throughout college. As my life gets more and more stressful, I'm terrified an attack or migraine is on the horizon. I hope you are able to find some peace!

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