Baby steps

I do suffer from anxiety and panic attacks.

I am not at all ashamed to admit or discuss either.

Mine started in college. I was about 18. I was in class and I suddenly felt like I was going to be sick. Like puke sick. I got up and ran to the bathroom and once I got there I was fine.

I thought “well that was weird!” and went back to class.

And repeat.

Which made paying attention in class become very difficult!

Back in “those days” anxiety/panic was not so mainstream. People silently suffered and noone knew. There was no internets. No books on the topic (well maybe a few, but not like now). Noone was normalizing it so I felt so alone and like a total loon!

Over the years I’ve had more symptoms enter into my anxiety world. From nausea in certain situations to trouble swallowing (or the thought that I was) or the most common for me is the pain that feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest.

I’ll get that chest pain and ask myself what I’m anxious about. Sometimes it literally side sweeps me with no warning and no easily identifiable cause.

Yes, I have been prescribed meds to help.

But… in my opinion that’s only part of it.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past twenty ish years of my own journey. It’s SO hard to explain to those who don’t suffer what it feels like. It’s SO hard for those who don’t struggle with anxiety to understand as much as they want to.

A therapist shared a great analogy with me that has stayed with me.

He likened battling anxiety to holding a beachball under water. The ball represents whatever is causing your body to react. We all know it’s not easy to hold it there, and the longer you hold it under water, the more exhausted you are.

Until you can’t hold it any longer and it comes FLYING up out of the water uncontrollably making a huge mess. And causing such a splash of water that you get a neti pot in every part of your face.

I have to learn to let my ball gently come up to the surface of my life. Let it float around in the same pool as I’m in. Some days elements and circumstances bring it closer by me and other days further away.

My work and my journey now is to look inside. Find out what my beach balls are that I’m stuffing under the water I live in.

I’m a work in progress.

If you’re near me as I walk this… and one by one let my beach balls surface… I’ll try my best not to splash you 💗

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