Fear has caused me to avoid certain situations, like long lines in the grocery store. I feared a panic attack and being stuck with no way out. Trapped. With therapy and self-awareness, I have started to realize a lot of the fear was attached to learned responses. My brain says “Holy shit, man! Panic! Something bad is going to happen. Get out now while you still can!” Truth is, I’m just waiting in a really long line that is moving slow. I have not had a panic attack in years, yet the feeling is still fresh. It is horrible and debilitating – and embarrassing. I learned that losing control like this feels like I’m dying; therefore I concluded that the potential risk of having a panic attack is good enough reason to avoid anything that could result in one. However, that fear is dissipating.
Previously I wondered what would replace anxiety when I was “cured.” Let me be clear, I do not believe that you can CURE anxiety. I do think you can relieve yourself from its grasp and live a productive life full of joy and sorrow and anger, all that ordinary life stuff without flipping out. Anxiety is low these days, but it will always be a part of me, even if it’s lying dormant. With fear at bay, I am discovering anger and frustration. Now, when I’m in line at the grocery store and no one is moving; the thoughts that rock through me are full of straight up hate: What the hell is taking so long? How stupid can you be? Just scan the friggin item and put it in the dang bag. Move people! Move! I have better places to be.
This recognition came as a surprise to me. The lid of fear is peeled back; what little prize do I find inside – anger. I wonder how fear and anger are connected? When I see my temper is rising, I try to suppress it, but it leaks out in shameful ways. I am short with people I care about. My husband, my kids, my family, friends. Self-care starts to suffer, I eat horrible, drink less water, don’t exercise, go to bed late and then don’t fall asleep, a dull headache plagues me for days.
Hello, internet. Seems there are a few things I can do to get ahead of the funk. Supplements, eating better, avoiding excess carbs and alcohol, be more active, taking breaks when life gets too stressful. All solid advice, easy to read, not so easy to put into motion. I think the most beneficial thing I have learned from therapy is that you don’t have to conquer all your vices today. It’s the small steps (sometimes microscopic) that have ultimately lead to success.
So, today I am drinking more water and setting a bedtime for myself. A time for bed with no excuses. I have recognized a direct connection between treating my body well and my mental health.
I’m even joining the gym – I hope I go.