It finally happened.
I knew it was coming, I could see it from a mile off.
Hell, I could feel it coming from a mile off.
My first panic attack in two months.
Do you know the kind of relief that was from someone who was having them nightly just a few months ago? I didn't talk about it because I didn't want to talk about the situation in general. After crashing my car my anxiety went through the roof.
At first it was just when I was driving by myself that I would get anxious. Then I was getting anxious about anything and everything. Waking up in the middle of the night in tears and not remembering why. Getting that panicking feeling in the middle of the day in my office because I was stressed about anything I could find to be stressed about.
And then it stopped.
Not by itself obviously- I took so many steps in order to get to the place where I wasn't having anxiety attacks day in day out. I would still get that crushing weight of anxiety settling on my chest, but I learnt how to deal with it, how to keep it at bay.
But last night, last night the flood gates were opened and there was no way of stopping it.
I went to sleep feeling no more anxious and stressed than usual. I was tired and sore and in general ready for a good nights sleep.
The first warning sign was that it took me a while to get to sleep. My mind would not shut off, which is something I haven't been struggling with all that much lately. I have found that if I really tire myself out during the day, I can go to sleep so easily, just telling my brain to be quiet and let the sleep over come it.
Last night was different, I wanted desperately to go to sleep. To bury myself in my blankets and give no thought to all the stressors of the day- money, work, writing, studying. I was more than willing to shut the thoughts off and let sleep overcome me.
They made it quite apparent that they were planning to make it hard for me to go peacefully off into a dream state. That was my first warning.
I don't know what time it was, I know that it was dark outside and that I felt like I had only been asleep for five minutes. Except I hadn't and I knew that because Brodie was sound asleep next to me and the movie he had been watching had already played through the credits.
What woke me up was the gasping for breath. I felt like no matter how hard I was trying I was getting no air into my air ways. I could feel the tears running down my face, why were they there? Why couldn't I breath? Why was I crying?
It felt like someone had taken one of the weights from my back room, my makeshift gym area and plonked a heavy one straight on my chest. Except I could sit up and there was nothing there. The weight was a pure tonne of anxiety and it was crushing me.
As I usually do when I am panicking, I composed myself enough to leave the bedroom. I know that he cares but there is nothing that makes me feel worse than Brodie seeing me in this state. So, I leave and I go to the furtherest room away from him, the lounge room. I don't tun any lights on because even I don't want to see myself in this state.
I throw myself on the lounge and attempt to regain some breath, to try the controlled breathing I had been teaching myself to do for months in wait of this exact moment. I clear my mind- I focus instead on the things around me- what am I sitting on? What does it feel like? Can I hear anything? The weight begins to subside.
I close my eyes and study the back of my eyelids for a while, my breaths are still shaking. What could possibly have set this off? I went to bed in a good mood. I could feel that anxious tension at the back of my chest but I was convinced I had days, maybe even weeks before it exploded. I was wrong.
I feel weak, like someone has just pulled me from a near death experience with drowning. I feel like I have nothing left in me. Can I even make it back to my bed? Can I even stand? Will I have to crawl back to bed or does that take more energy?
I do get back to bed, but the amount of energy it takes makes it seem like I had just run a marathon instead of walked the ten metres from the lounge room to the bedroom.
I still don't remember what I was dreaming about to cause my first anxiety attack in two months- I probably don't want to remember. The not remembering is probably my minds way of protecting me.
This morning felt like it dragged on for two days. My morning walk was ten minutes slower than it usually is and I found myself counting down the kilometres to home. I considered cutting it short but knew it would do nothing but make me feel more anxious. My morning walk always helps and this morning it did, but not enough.
My morning workout was terrible. My lifts were terrible, I had no energy to jump around. I found myself squatting down and having to really push myself to get back up. It took me half an hour longer than usual to get through my sets. Longer rest periods mean I was giving myself more of a break but I was also giving myself more time to think- which I didn't want, but still did anyway.
I think I forgot how to deal with the day after an anxiety attack. It almost feels worse than the actual attack. I wanted nothing more than to lay in bed and sleep off my feelings of anxiousness. I wanted to watch trashy TV and not think about my chest muscles aching from trying desperately to steady my breath.
I don't want to think about the things that lead up to this. But I have too. Because I don't want to have to go through this again and again.
There has not been a lot of mental health chat on this blog lately, largely due to the fact that I have been feeling GREAT and when things are going good- there just isn't that much to talk about. It could have been that kind of cockiness, the "ooh my mental health is going so good!" that made a higher force send me an anxiety attack in the dead of the night- but that is completely fine. It has signalled to me that I need to sort some shit out, I need to sort my head out. Its proof that you can convince yourself that you're fine, even when you know you aren't. And that is a whole lot easier to deal with it as it comes than in one big clusterfuck.