I know for certain that I am absolutely not alone when it comes to anxiety. Many of my friends are from within the mental health community and anxiety seems to cross the borders over many diagnoses. This topic is in my mind because I have been dealing with a lot of stressful events over the past few months and it doesn’t take much to get me over the tipping point these days.
Recently (the past 6 months or so), I have had this fear of being shot through the windows in my home. I know it is exceptionally unlikely. I live in a very rural, calm, safe, quiet place and there is very little serious crime here. Not one person has been shot anywhere near me in decades. So I know my fear is irrational yet I still fear it. I have a covering on my office window that lets light in but blocks anyone from seeing in. My husband closes the blinds in my living room before I can enter each evening. I actually sat there with the blinds up while visiting my sister-in-law and while I am proud of myself for trying to overcome with my fear, I know I will be having anxiety attacks for days now. That is just how my head works. My hope is that one day, I will be okay with it and function more rationally regarding this subject. Until then? Anxiety prevails.
While I know how unlikely it would be for me to get shot through my house windows, I am also very triggered by anything that sounds like a gun shot. On days like Canada Day or any other occasion where fireworks are likely to be used, I am able to brace myself and be prepared for the inevitable noise. This is great but what happens when the noise is unplanned or I am unaware it will happen?
This happened the other day (July 9th actually). I was sitting on my couch with the blinds drawn when suddenly I heard gunshots. Bang. A second or so later, bang again. The rational side of me wanted to look outside and see what was going on but my amygdala was not at all in the mood to be rational.
If you have not read about what your amygdala does, I wrote a blog awhile ago that explains it and its link to anxiety. The Amygdala
So, guess what my amygdala and I did rather than calmly looking outside to assure myself that the “gunshots” were really just kids playing with fireworks or perhaps some family celebrating a birthday or something?
We hid in a closet that is in the centre of the house and pulled a dresser over to cover the doorway. I figured that by the time a bullet got through my walls, a closet and a dresser, it wouldn’t hurt me too badly.
My amygdala and I stayed there for 4 hours. My heart was flying, my head was spinning, my palms were sweaty but the rest of my body was cold with fear.
Even after getting out of the closet and my husband assuring me that there was absolutely no danger at all, I felt anxious for another 3 days. Panic attacks for no reason, my heart speeding up to mock 3 on a regular basis, I forgot to breathe on a regular basis then would gasp for air and need to remind myself to just breathe calmly.
I spend a lot of time in these high anxiety days thinking I am going to die. The shortness of breath even if self-caused lets my brain think I am on my way to deaths door, I get all the heart attack symptoms of nausea, chest pain, I feel incredibly weak, my heart pounds loudly then seems to disappear completely. It is really horrible but I know that I am not alone. There are so many people just like me who suffer in the same way.
I’ve often wondered why I feel so tired. In the run of a day I can go from doing whatever I want to do and then suddenly feel so exhausted that I am once again wondering if I am about to pass out from exhaustion. I’ve only recently realized that fighting off endless panic and anxiety is exhausting work. Why wouldn’t I be tired? I’ve been battling with my mind all day long. I really need to start giving myself a bit more of a break. I am really doing the best that I can and if anyone around me dealt with the same situation? I’d be very compassionate towards them. I need to try offering myself the same. I am sure you know how hard that can be to do?
So what do we do? I have found a few different techniques that have worked for me and listed some here. They don’t ALWAYS work though and I have recently been exposed to a new therapy called the “Emotional Freedom Technique” that works by tapping different pressure points. The same points used in acupuncture. I will write Fridays blog on it after I speak to someone about it in more detail tomorrow
For now, some suggestions include…
Just know that you are not alone and your struggle is not a small mole hill to deal with. It is a mountain but I do hope together we can find a way to safely get to the top so we can all enjoy the view.
See you again on Friday. 🙂