This is what it feels like.

25 May

The other night, someone asked me.. “So. This anxiety stuff. Do you just not handle stress well?”

I very much doubt he meant this in a bad way. (I think if he had been trying to be a shit head, he would’ve tried a little harder. At least.. I hope.) That’s kind of when I realized, if you don’t have anxiety problems, you probably have no idea what it feels like when your body rebels and you can’t control it.

I’m going to do my best to describe it. (Please remember – this is just what I feel. Anxiety is different for everyone, and I am by no means an expert. I’ve got a BS in BS, not a PhD.)

First, it starts with a thought. We’ll use the End of the World example here, because I’d rather not go into what’s been the most recent cause of my crazy. (Also – I say that with love. “My crazy” is the way I describe this to people so they know I’m not gonna break apart in front of them. It’s the same as when my Event Chair calls her Rheumatoid Arthritis her “cooties”.)

Ok, so back to the thought. The end of the world. December 21, 2012. The thought repeats. Over and over, until it’s like a chanting in my head. I can’t get it to go away. All I can hear is “the end of the world” and all I can see are buildings crumbling, people screaming, blood, gore, and death. The people I love are in pain, or gone forever. This plays in my head like a movie. Nothing will make it stop. Not watching tv or reading a book. Sleeping would probably cut the movie short, but there’s no way in hell you can sleep with the pictures in your brain or the thought of the end of the world. There’s no way out.

My heart starts to beat really fast. It feels like it’s going to beat itself out of my chest. I’m almost completely sure at this point that people can see that I’m melting down, and they’re laughing at me. Now not only is my brain taunting me, but everyone around me is, too. My hands start to shake, and my pupils dilate. The extra light is so much brighter than normal.

I start to breath harder – short, shallow breaths that soon turn into almost not breathing at all. I know I’m not getting enough air, but I can’t take a deep breath, because if I do, I might throw up. Sometimes I start to see stars. If I’m standing up, at this point I’ll have to sit or lie down, because my body will refuse to hold me up.

Sometimes my cheeks will flush and I’ll start to cry. The tears always seem hotter than a “normal” cry (which is something I don’t do in many situations anymore, because of the medication). They almost feel like they’re burning my face. This is the breaking point: I’m either going to work myself into enough of a frenzy that my body shuts off, or I’m going to have to take something. If I’ve been able to communicate during period of time, usually my friends know what will calm me down. They know I can’t talk, so they’ll text, reminding me to breathe, to relax, to let it go. But sometimes, they have their own lives and can’t deal with my crazy. This is the part I hate to admit: when this happens, usually the only relief is pharmaceutical. The short acting drugs (think Xanax) are sedative, hypnotic, muscle relaxers. They release whatever has worked your mind into a frenzy, and they let it escape from the grasp of your brain. (In a pinch, a prescription pain killer will do. Not. Recommended.)

They’re also powerful, addictive, and dangerous.

When the drug finally takes hold, I can feel the crazy slipping away. My finger tips start to tingle. I can breathe. I don’t feel like the earth is going to swallow me whole. I’m once again a normal human being. Or maybe just a human being, since I’m convinced nobody really knows what normal is.

Did that help? Or did I just scare the shit out of you?

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