Anxiety Chronicles: New Level Unlocked

I had an anxiety-fueled panic attack yesterday (I can usually tell the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack, but what I experienced yesterday was different and I still don’t know what to call it, so I settled on this).

It’s a complicated thing to take care of your mental health while also being concerned about offending others. On one hand, I’m cycling through an hour-long experience of breathing way too hard and doing this weird tapping thing I’ve never done before so my brain can fixate on something other than making tears and trying to breathe so I don’t hyperventilate and pass out and wanting my mom but not being able to call for her; and on the other hand, I’m fully conscious of everything that’s happening but unable to stop it and worried that everyone things I’m being a brat and having a temper tantrum at 34.

And then there’s the issue of trying to act like none of it happened because I’m now at a family member’s funeral and people I love are grieving but I’m still trying to recover from this major mental and physical experience and I’m exhausted and I have no room for other people’s feelings but this moment isn’t about me but because I’m not engaging “normally” people are taking my silence as rudeness and I’m trying really hard not to argue with people who are grieving so I sit in the car until the service is done because my brain hasn’t returned to default and now I can’t stop crying but also this moment isn’t about me because I’m at a freaking funeral and other people are grieving.

Anxiety is a bitch.

It started the night before. I’d “peopled” all day and was wiped out and a series of events led to an anxiety spiral that kept me up too late and woke me up too early in tears and just as I’m trying to regulate that experience by taking my morning slowly and practicing self-care in the form of brushing my teeth and getting some iced coffee, another (unexpected and uncomfortable) moment ignites the bomb that is an anxiety-fueled panic attack and I’m done for.

At what point am I allowed to say, “fuck everyone else and their feelings” and focus solely on my own painful, complicated experience that very few of the people I know understand? Unfortunately, I feel like the answer is “never” because my pain and the way I respond to it aren’t contained in a bubble.

And I oscillate between withdrawing completely from everyone I know in the real world and participating more in my relationships in an effort to be a well-functioning person.

I don’t think I ever truly feared for myself (in regard to living alone) in the past; it was more so a situation of money is funny. Now, though, living alone would mean I have absolutely no responsibility to engage with anyone outside of myself on a regular basis and (lately) I have experienced too frequently moments where I would absolutely turn off my phone and only respond to emails about business if I didn’t live with family, and particularly my mother who encourages (read: forces) me to engage with people and events outside of my corner of the house. I’d fear for myself if I were to live alone in this state.

Not engaging with others means fewer instances of situations that could trigger an anxiety spiral, a panic attack, or even just personal insecurities. It also means a limit to my opportunities for growth. I don’t want to be a recluse.

If anything, I want understanding; at the very least, I want people to honor my boundaries, and I want them to leave me alone when they see I’m not engaging as I usually would (especially, if they saw me the day before and I was in my normal, good-natured mood).

The experience yesterday was a new one. I have experienced attacks that were mentally more intense (intrusive thoughts and what not) but never as physically involved. It’s like a new level of my experience with anxiety has been unlocked just as I was overcoming the last one.

I don’t know what comes next, but I’m taking today slowly.

Anxiety-Prone Floridian Rides Out Hurricane with Hulu and Cheez-Its

I think I’ve always hated storms. Something about the rushing wind and pouring rain unnerves me. Last year, during a particularly loud thunderstorm, I seriously contemplated my need for an emotional support animal. It was rough.

On the other side of Hurricane Ian (kind of—the storm isn’t completely gone yet, it’s just not raining here at the moment), I can say it wasn’t all that bad where I live in the center of the state. We lost power completely for about 10.5 (mostly night) hours, and although the power is back on now, it still isn’t stable and is constantly flickering off and back on. I can’t help but wonder how the constant surges of power are going to affect the electricity in our home going forward.

This is the first hurricane in my parents’ new house. The backyard pools with water during regular rain, and we’re at a much lower elevation than our previous home, so we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of flooding. We didn’t experience any flooding, though, thank God.

Despite the impending hurricane-induced anxiousness, this is not my first hurricane, and it won’t be my last. I am a native-born Floridian. I’ve had 30+ years of hurricanes, so this isn’t my first rodeo. How and ever! I am prone to feeling anxious and I have an incredibly difficult time sleeping without the noise of my oscillating fan (which doesn’t work with no power). Hulu held me down during the first several hours of the storm, but halfway through I Think We’re Alone Now is when the power outage severed my and Hulu’s codependent relationship.

I couldn’t find my “hurricane candle” (a beast of a thing I created by melting, sifting, and repouring a box of $10 Target candles from my old job back in 2018 [the jars had broken in transit and I convinced the HR lady I could save the wax—to which she agreed so long as I dug through the box of broken glass at home on my own time rather than at work]). Instead, I grabbed another large candle from around the house and two smaller candles and made a bonfire in my room. I stayed up until about 2:30 A.M. brainstorming ideas for NINE & TWO Press and turning my phone back on every hour or so to watch ten minutes of Spectrum News 13 storm coverage before turning it back off to conserve battery power. I didn’t know how long we’d be without power, and I wanted to save the backup power pods (I had two fully charged) for the last possible moment.

Truthfully, I started eating the box of Cheez-Its the day before Hurricane Ian hit—eating your hurricane snacks early is kind of a thing—so they didn’t necessarily get me through the storm. However, the storm technically isn’t over yet, and they will probably be my primary food group today (along with several cans of seltzer water) while I paint my nails and try to make it through the rest of my movie—provided the power grid obliges me for long enough.

It’s easy to be positive on the other side of a hurricane when your home and family are well and undamaged. Living in the center of the state has its advantages as storms usually weaken before directly impacting us—usually to a Cat 1 or Tropical Storm, sometimes a Cat 2. My thoughts are with those on the Southwest coast who were hit with Hurricane Ian as a Cat 4 (almost 5) storm last night and have experience catastrophic flooding and wind damage.

Hopefully, it’ll be another 4+ years before we have to deal with a hurricane barreling through the middle of the state again. And hopefully, this frog outside will finally cease its incessant croaking (it’s been going since before 6 A.M.).

Angie Smith: What Women Fear

I don’t often write about books I read as devotionals on this blog—I usually leave that for Insert Adventist—but this book spoke to me on so many levels that I had to share.

I’d never before read a book that I identified with so much. I have talked about the anxiety I experience over on the second site, and although I am learning how to articulate my emotions more effectively, I’ve spent a lot of years not knowing how to describe what I’m feeling.

There were several instances where she would describe her fear—especially the fear she had as a child—and I would have an “it’s me, it’s me!” moment. And it wasn’t so much that I was excited about the fear she was describing, but I finally felt like someone else knew what I was experiencing and could actually put it into words. There were quite a few tears during the first half of the book.

One thing I really appreciated in this book was Angie’s honesty. She was honest about the fact that having faith in God doesn’t make every fear go away. She said that it’s more of a balancing act—leaning into God and away from fear.

This book didn’t solve any of my problems, but it did encourage me to seek out ways to figure out how to better manage them and to ask for help with things that are beyond my ability to control. And it’s scary sometimes, accepting that I can’t do it all on my own, but I also know I’m not alone.

Since I am neither married nor a parent, there were parts that I could not relate to, but overall I found this book to be very helpful. It is a book that I may actually read again, and I certainly don’t do that often.

If you’re looking for a discussion of fear and anxiety from a faith-based perspective, this may be the read for you. She talks about fear experienced on different levels—as a child, as an adult, as a mother, as a woman. She talks about the fear that her mom would die if she left her side as well as the heartbreak of losing one of her own children.

This book could not have come at a better time for me. And honestly, I still have no clue how it ended up on my Overdrive wish list, but I’m glad it was there.

What book are you reading (or have read recently) that had you in your feelings and encouraged to seek change in your life? Let me know. And as always…

Happy Reading!