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.