I remember it. I was taking a test and all of a sudden the room just felt too quiet and my thoughts sounded too loud and I felt like my brain was shouting at me, sort of.
I remember it. I was talking on the phone and all of a sudden the conversation sounded more sinister. We weren’t talking about anything particularly scary, but I felt scared. The words sounded so sharp.
I remember it. Sitting in church and my eyes playing tricks on me and the fear that maybe I was hallucinating or that I was about to hallucinate.
I remember the weird taste in my mouth, the dryness, the sensitive gag reflex.
I remember thinking I’d lose control. I don’t know why, but I was so afraid of “snapping” and going mad.
I remember feeling…off. I couldn’t quite describe it and that scared me. I knew it was something bad. I knew I was headed for a mental breakdown.
It took me a long time to learn…Anxiety. Can. Do. Crazy. Things.
“Pro” tip: anytime a sensation or a symptom or a thought pops up that is “difficult to describe”…Chances are, it’s anxiety.
At least in my experience…
I don’t know how many times I said the words, “I just feel…weird,” Or, “I just feel…off.”
Something must be wrong. That’s what our brain is trying to get us to believe. It does a REALLY good job. We believe there is an emergency and that we have to get away or go to the hospital because we are on the verge of losing our mind or having a heart attack or fainting or dying or complete embarrassment or…fill in the blank. It can feel like we are on the edge of a cliff and any moment, we are going to fall to our doom. The building is on fire and we have to get out. E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y! Alert, alert, alert.
I fell for it again and again and again.
It’s probably the hardest thing about anxiety disorder recovery…Because the way to teach your brain that you’re safe is to NOT react to every weird sensation, every odd thought, every strange feeling you come across. To STOP panicking. To breathe and sit through it when all you want to do is flee from the room. It was so hard. I remember.
Eventually, I started to get better at it. It wasn’t easy, but I was starting to believe the alarms were false. I started to understand how messed up my nervous system was, how overstimulated I had been for years, how I never had addressed triggers and core fears that had festered over time.
It helped. Telling myself that anytime I felt “weird”, it was just anxiety. I could “relax” knowing I wasn’t actually going insane, knowing I was just hyped up on stress hormones.
Ugh. I know our brains do this to help us survive, but it sucks when you’re going through it. It sucks to have to teach yourself what is and what is not an emergency. It sucks to feel panicky out of the blue. It sucks to deal with the shakiness, the nausea and upset stomach, the racing thoughts and rapid heartbeat, the overthinking, the sleepless nights, etc. etc. etc. It. SUCKS.
It did get better though. I did learn. Feeling weird? It’s 99% probably my anxiety. If I could tell myself that, I was winning the battle.