Everyone has a little bit of anxiety, and sometimes anxiety can actually be good. Anxiety can help motivate you and can protect you from negative outcomes. It can also help you see clearly what it is you want in life. However, anxiety becomes a disorder when it consumes you. If something consumes you, it affects you in such a way that you cannot think of or do anything else. As we all know, if a fire consumes something, it destroys that thing completely.
My anxiety, like fire, has the ability to destroy me, completely.
An Anxiety Attack Cannot Be Hidden
Because of my anxiety disorder, I don’t react well to change or spontaneity, and I don’t function well in times of uncertainty. I tend to obsess over things that maybe don’t seem so rational to others.
It cannot be hidden. You may as well tattoo “I’m having an anxiety attack” on my forehead. Someone in a state of panic can’t suppress what they are feeling. It comes on suddenly and can be debilitating. According to the ADAA, the symptoms of a panic attack mimic those of conditions like heart disease or thyroid problems. So yes, you literally feel like you’re dying.
A Train Wreck
I remember going to work one evening when I was already experiencing some anxiety that day. I do not know for what reason. As I worked by myself for an event that was supposed to be small, there were a lot of people in a very small room. Suddenly I felt the walls are closing in on me.
By the way, you can add that feeling to my list of symptoms that will end in train-wreck.
I Had To Give Myself a Self-Talk
I felt uncertainty about my job for that evening and wasn’t confident that it would end in success. Later I was not sure that I even got through an hour of my shift before I bolted out the doors. No, this isn’t a figure of speech, I literally flew out those doors.
As I turned, my sprint became a brisk walk and continued to the other side of the building. I hid my face and clutched my heart. When I was finally out of sight I hit the ground and began to cry. I may have been crying partly due to the fact that I felt like I was going to die, but mainly it was because my anxiety made me feel absolutely ridiculous. The feelings had been overwhelming, and now I was embarrassed. I gave myself a little pep-talk: “Okay, Gab. Get the hell off the grass and get yourself back in there. You got this.”
Someone Noticed I Was In Trouble
I wiped the mascara stains off of my face and put on such a fake smile, I didn’t even recognize myself. When I walked past a group of older women, one stopped me and asked if I was okay. Shit. I quickly responded, “Ya i’m just not feeling too well.” She grabbed my hand and said to me, “I know what a panic attack looks like. You don’t have to lie to me.”
I was frozen.
She Had No Idea How Much of an Impact She Made
Having no idea what to do or say in that moment, I just stood there and let her hold my hand. I thanked her and got back to my job, and I kicked-ass for the rest of the night.
Someone reminded me that it was okay not to be okay, and looked me in the eyes, accepting my mental illness. She didn’t know why I was feeling this way, and she didn’t care. All she knew was that I was in a state of panic, and although she couldn’t wave her magic wand and take all of the anxiety away from me, she knew that she could give me her support.
This lady probably to this day has no idea how much she impacted me that night, but to me, it is a moment I won’t forget. It was a moment of acceptance, and it showed progress towards a society that no longer stigmatizes mental illness.
Sometimes I don’t understand my brain, and I am okay admitting that sometimes I need some help. Now I am able to recognize when I need an extra hand to pull me back up.
I hope that you can be strong enough to lend your hand to someone who needs it.
Reproduced with permission, originally posted on welcometomyteenagebrain