PARALYSING! The word that comes to my mind whenever I think of Anxiety. Paralysing followed by suffocation and tears. Unexplained tears. Exhaustion. That’s how anxiety works. I am writing this as I come down from an anxiety attack, in a headspace where I can write but am exhausted. I never felt the need to hide the fact that I not only deal with Lupus but also depression and anxiety, something I have been trying to write about since I started my blog. I just couldn’t find the right words but as I come down from my anxiety attack, one of the worst ones yet, I know this is the best time to describe what anxiety can do to someone. It’s not you stressing about work or life. It’s so hard to explain to people that there is a difference between the two things. So, I am going to take my best shot at it.
You know it’s coming. You can feel it. Like a little pit in your stomach and you start doing the exercises that you know better than the back of your hand. Exercises you have learnt in therapy that help you deal with these situations. Most of the times they work but there are times when it’s just too much for you to handle, despite the exercises and the meds. Usually there are triggers, instances that start the attack. It could be something as small as a joke someone cracked without ill intensions. It could be a book, a movie or even a memory. Triggers are different for everyone but once you recognize them its easier to calm yourself down and not have a meltdown which are not just emotionally draining but also physically exhausting. You never know when one is going to hit you and you know within the first few seconds whether you will be able to handle it or not.
Usually, I know what has triggered my anxiety but the past week has been difficult and I am literally crossing out days I am able to get through. I don’t have triggers. Not the ones I am aware of atleast. Maybe it’s my subconscious mind reacting to something or the chemicals in my brain going wild. It is difficult to even breathe and as the day progresses it gets worse. The pit in your stomach just keeps growing until you feel everything inside you is twisted, knotted and just not right. You start with your exercises again, hoping, praying, begging them to work but this time you are in the vicious cycle that is just so hard to break. You arehaving anxiety that is not settling down and you start working yourself up about it. Why isn’t it working? I am doing everything right? I don’t even have a trigger! What did I do wrong? That’s when you have worked yourself so much than you have a meltdown. A literal meltdown where you are crying, sobbing actually while your hands clutch onto anything nearby, be it a pillow or your mom’s hand or your dad’s shirt. Anything that will keep you grounded, to remind you that you are not alone. Your body is shaking, trying to keep the sobs quiet but that just makes it worse. So much worse because the sobbing doesn’t stop for a long time. There have been times when I have cried for 4-5 hours and just fallen asleep because my body is just so exhausted. Mom and dad are worried even though they don’t show it. They try to keep calm and try to calm me down. Holding me and I latch onto them. Latch on them like my life depends on them which it probably does because the time between this stage and the stage where I have drained myself is a dangerous period. It may vary from few minutes to few hours but I always make sure I am not alone. Be it talking to someone or being with my mom or dad or both. That tiny voice in the head is the strongest during this point and it always says things you DON’T need to hear. So, in turn you end up making stupid decisions. Be it texting someone, being insecure to self-harming or worse. That’s why you should never be alone during this time. Every decision you make is going to be wrong. You are going to end up ruining friendships to hurting yourself in one way or the other. Grab a person. Person you trust, person who won’t judge you, a person you can rely on to make sure you are okay. It’s not an easy job by any means and you won’t make it any easier.
That’s the hardest part, though, isn’t it? To ask someone for help. You barely accept the fact you have anxiety how the hell are you going to ask for help? How are you going to tell someone you need them? Wouldn’t that make you seem weak? NO. That’s right, it won’t make you seem weak because asking for help is one of the bravest things you can ever do. I know how the society expects us to be able to stand on our own but that’s not the practical reality. No one can survive alone, so, please, ask for help. For yourself!For people who care about you and don’t want you suffering in this hell.Talk to them! Ask them to talk to you. It can be anything. You can talk about why you are having anxiety or something else altogether. Tell them to distract you and to keep talking. If you have someone who can be there with you physically, that’s even better. They don’t even have to talk. Cuddle, watch something mundane. White noise. You don’t have to talk either. They are just there making sure you are okay. Have a talk with this person when you are calm. Tell them what helps you and what to tell you and to keep repeating it so they are prepared for when it happens.Then it is time for the last stage.
EXHAUSTION! You have dealt with the attack, maybe you were able to avoid or maybe it was mild or maybe it was the worst meltdown you have ever had but you made through that hell, even if it was just for a few minutes. It will leave you drained. Physically, emotionally, mentally. Have some chocolate and take it easy for the rest of the day. Treat yourself right. Be gentle and that tiny voice that was so loud in your head earlier? Don’t focus on that. You have to realize that voice is like thanos. One snap and a part of you will stop functioning but we come back and we fight just like the avengers. Give yourself a pat on your back. You did well.
Anxiety is like a wave and you are the cool surfer dude. You have to ride it out. It doesn’t stop midway. Sometimes the waves are tsunami and all you can do is ask for help. I know how hard it is to ask for help. To reach out and say that I have this issue and I might need to see someone about it. Its nothing to be ashamed of. AT ALL. I have had depression and anxiety since 2011 and I reached out for help in 2018. Yeah, that’s how long it took. What made me ask for help? I hit rock bottom. I hit it so bad that I was scared of and for myself. Don’t wait for it to get worse. You may just need some therapy; you may not even need meds if you reach out on time and trust me that will make a huge deal of a difference. Therapy helps a whole lot more than people realise. Ofcourse the medicine is doing its job, keeping a balance of chemicals in your head but without therapy medicine can’t do shit. Its 2019, I think it’s high time we start talking about mental health issues and start getting rid of the stigma around it. Why are we so ashamed of it? Why does society act like it’s something to be ashamed of? If you break a bone you would seek help, right? You won’t just sit there, in pain, walking around. You will get a plaster and people will scribble get well soon notes. So why any different for mental health issues? Instead of broken leg you have depression or anxiety or bipolar etc. So why won’t you go to a doctor for that? Isn’t your brain just as important? If not, isn’t it the most important? If you are showing any signs of depression or anxiety, reach out. Go to a doctor. Get whatever help you need. Trust me, people you are worried about won’t be there when you are sitting in the corner of your room sobbing hysterically because you don’t think you deserve to live or to be loved.
You are a brilliant person who has been fighting far too long andfighting alone. Battles are never won alone. You may lead the army but you need your warriors. They can be as diverse as you want them to be from humans to things like books. If you can take care of a pet then get one. A puppy or a cat or anything that is legal. My cats have helped me so much. I was doing better before we got them but the improvement I felt after having them in my life is beyond amazing. Have faith if not in god (I don’t believe in that) then in yourself. You have survived till now, right? Alone! Against an army of vicious enemies but now you have allies. It will get easier. You will sort it out. I know its easier said than done. I am one of the lucky few who have a strong support system in my parents. It is hard to find true friends. It is not that you are doing something wrong or they are purposefully trying to hurt you but you have to face the fact that it is rather difficult to be friends with someone who is constantly trying to push you away. A few will get through that, though, so hold onto them because they are doing something even you are not able to do yourself. They are showing you they love and care about you.
I am going to end it here and remind you to be kind to everyone around you. They have a life you have no idea about, they are going through their own, personal version of hell which you may not understand but it was specifically designed for them. Most importantly, be kind of yourself. On the bad days, take care of yourself. Have water, eat good food. Indulge yourself with some waffles. Anything that brings a little smile on your face works. Being happy is unfortunately a constant battle which we have to fight and not give up. You are not alone.