My chest is tightening, my lungs feel like they’re on fire, I can barely move my body for how much it aches and my thoughts are moving a mile a minute. Later on I’ll learn how to concentrate on my breathing to bring myself out of this but at this time I have no idea what’s going on or how the hell to deal with it.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at the same a couple of years ago. It’s a common diagnosis and one often comes with the other like one big awful present.
“Wow, what’s this big box under the tree?”
“Well son I went to the store and they had an offer on, not only do you get Depression but Anxiety came free with it to”
I was specifically diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder.
Specific thoughts are coming out now, what do I have to do tonight? What do I have to do tomorrow? Did I forget to do anything at work? What do I have to do tonight? What do I have to do tomorrow, repeatedly, over and over, round and round.
General Anxiety Disorder affects me in many different situations. Crowds and enclosed areas are particularly tough; the tube is like my ultimate nemesis. In a crowd I always feel like I’m trying to work out each individual person’s route through the crowd. When someone doesn’t conform entirely to the route I’ve worked out in my head that they are definitely going to walk in it freaks me out. In my head I’m having a full blown screaming match with them.
Eventually the thoughts are slowing down, becoming more focused on one thing. A weight hangs over my chest now. It is no longer a feeling of panic but a sense of utter inescapable dread. Something is definitely going to go terribly wrong. I try to focus on what is really worrying me but it’s nothing specific, nothing is worrying me but everything is worrying me.
Managing situations where I might get anxious is tough. I could walk into a supermarket and get anxious about how it’s all organised, what might have moved to an entirely different aisle this week? I could walk into the supermarket, find everything and leave with no problem. Anxiety can come and go at any time, it’s never predictable and as much as I’ll guard it in one situation it can pop up in another.
My whole body feels tired now. The constant awareness of how I’m feeling and having my muscles tightened has left me exhausted. I need to lie down, for a long time.
A few months after I was first diagnosed I was having therapy. My therapist taught me a technique involving breathing in and out deeply, concentrating on the breathing. This focused my mind and broke the initial cycle, allowing me to think freely again. In some situations this is great, at work I can stop, breathe then continue like nothing’s happened. Stopping, closing your eyes and breathing deeply in the middle of a crowd however, Is kind of tricky. Knowing that I can get out of the cycle which fuels anxiety is unbelievably comforting though. I can beat the anxiety, I own the anxiety, anxiety does not own me.
Tomas W Shore (@m0by_duck)