Keep Calm and Are You Kidding Me?

Do you ever hear someone say, "ugh I had a legit panic attack!" and you kinda want to punch a pillow, or crush a candy necklace with one hand?

Yeah, same.

Because, you know what a panic attack really is, don't you? And you know about anxiety attacks too. And you knew without me having to tell you, that those actually are two different things. 

Or...hello, yes, hi. Do you not know these things? Do you think of yourself as someone who doesn't have anxiety? Please, stick around. I want you to hear this just as much as someone who does have legit panic attacks. Because a. the more you know and b. you know, just spilling my guts here in an effort to help literally just one soul, and you never know, that might actually be you? Convincing? 


A little background on my anxiety: I first was able to put a name to my anxiety in college. That's also when I had my first panic attack. (As an aside, panic attacks are not things I get very often. Bless it. In fact I'd say I get one maybe every 6-7 months. So, if yours happen more often, sister, I am so sorry. And I'm thinkin of you, really.) 

Much like my depression, my anxiety has an ebb and a flow to it. There are periods of my life when my anxiety disorder seems to seep into every part of my day-to-day. And there are periods of my life when my daily anxiety is minimal, and often really unnoticeable. Like anything, this can be triggered by a series of personal anticipated stressors - or, come on like a bat outta hell and smack me in the face when I least expect it. 

In the last few months - let's say three - my anxiety has been at an all-time high. And lucky me, I have pretty much put a pin on why that is.

Here's the kicker, it sucks, and it is downright embarrassing. 

Another perk for you non-anxiety prone folk, you basically just get to hear embarrassing stories about me today. 


So, there's plenty of room for my anxiety to be driven by being in a new scenario professionally, and working into that culture, figuring out those boundaries, and still learning new rules and customs every day. And by far this has been one of the largest stressors for me. 

But the other one? It is former life. I know, that sounds so, weird. 

Well, it comes down to this: I spent a year of my life dedicating my actions, my looks, my goals, my words, and just about every dang thing I had - to pleasing other people. 

Now, as happy as I am that most of those now are all my own, I am very aware that my brain does not always process that easily. 

So, I now find that my brain is asking me - way too often - to accommodate for what other people will think, what other people will want, what other people are saying, what other people are doing. 

The list goes on and on, and is obviously, totally situational.

If you don't really understand how anxiety disorders work, the easiest way to explain it is: it's stupid.


Seriously. Anxiety disorders fight logic, reason, rationale, even honest-to-goodness evidence.

I know that. 

When I am crying in my kitchen, scared to pick out dinner, I know that's illogical. When I am worried about getting dressed, I know that there is no reason behind that. When I want to ride a bike. When I want to see friends. When I want to go for a run. When I want to text someone just to say hi. When I want to go out to get food. When I want to make plans. 

Those things are not big deals. Almost ever.

But when the anxiety disorder comes into play, these things are huge. They are daunting, and scary, and they are things that I could fail at, instantly. They make me cry. They make me stay in bed. They make me sweaty (ew, I know.) They become the manifestation of my anxiety. 

I hear how ridiculous that is too. And when I come down from it, damn, do I feel even more ridiculous. 

And therein lies the embarrassment. 


Can you imagine trying to explain to someone why you ruined your whole night because you had to decide what to do about dinner?

That's crazy right?

You're telling me. 

So, what do you do?

Well, get a doctor, for one. Seriously. Talk to your doctor, figure out what works for you. 

And then, I have a couple things, things I have been working on in the last few months that I just want to share with you.

1. Take away as many stressors as you can. 

For me, that meant I had to stop teaching Pure Barre. Seriously. And I want to say it was a hard decision to make - but truthfully, a switch just flipped. I saw how stressed, and scared, and tired, and worried the job was making me, and I knew. As much as I love the clients and the community, it was making me unhealthy. So it had to go. It was too much to add to my schedule. It was too much studying to add to my week. It was too much pressure.

2. Be honest with yourself when you're not okay. 

Look, it's really easy to brush off a few bad days as just that. But when your anxiety disorder is...well, for lack of better word, flaring up, you need to be honest about that. You're not going to fix anything by not talking about it. It's not going to get better if you burrow in bed and hope for the best.

Believe you me, I wish that were true. But it's brain chemistry. Sister, it's that "easy," it is not you, it is your brain.


3. Use your empathy.

One of the blessings that has come from all of this mental health hoopla is the severe and bountiful amount of empathy that I am able to give to others. Nothing prepares you to understand the pain and trouble of others like a hidden illness. (I hate that term, FYI.)

Your ability to empathize with those around you, those you meet, and those who just get a few seconds of your time will become one of your greatest strengths. 

4. Say it out loud, when you can.

Now, I have been on this road of talking about mental health for a while - and talking about The Big D is much easier now than it was years ago. Anxiety though, that's still a struggle for me. It is still something I don't have the words for. It's still something that I don't always know how to share.

But when I can say something about it. When I can find some way to describe why I can't text my friends back, or skipped three days at the gym...that's when I start to feel a little better about the fact that I can't seem to control those things.

When I can take the time to say, I'm sorry, I tried, here's why I couldn't - this whole disorder feels a hint less stupid, and a hair more relatable. 


And that's it. That's what I'm dealing with right now. I'm just out here, every day, trying to beat back irrational fears.

Sometimes that feels like I have a single stick against a whole army of the dead. Sometimes it feels like I should just sit in the shower and keep waiting for it to pass. 

Look, we all have bad days. We all have those moments of anxiety. 

But what I am trying to tell you here, is sometimes, it is worse than that. And I can promise you you know someone who has felt like their brain is working against them. And I can promise you that they are doing what they can to be a functional person. And it's hard for them too, and disappointing for them too, and scary for them too. 

And if this sounds a lot like what you're going through, please know, there is a way through. Because damn, as hard as it can be - there has never not been a way through. Find what works for you, but make it count. 

I hear you, this shit is scary. 

But as all-encompassing as it can feel, it is not everything. It really isn't. Your life still exists outside of the struggle. And you might cry while you get back to it, but shit, if that's the worst thing you are doing - you are doing okay. 

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