Today I read about someone’s experience with anxiety attacks. I sat there reading and re-reading her post as I felt exactly what she’d gone through. Then I thought about my own life and how I have felt such shame and embarrassment about the anxiety that I have experienced for years. Very few people know exactly what I have gone through and hardly anyone knows exactly how rough it had been in the past. I have always thought that I would be judged, condemned, criticized and considered utterly ridiculous if I shared my experience. Only I know that there were many days that I could not walk into the back of a grocery store because of fear, or turned around and drive back home because the attack would not allow me to go places even if familiar.
Despite encouraging myself, praying, deep breathing, the struggle was and still is very real. I have asked myself many times, what will happened… and nothing ever does but trying to tell my shaking hands and racing heart that is a huge feat. I believe that my worst days are behind me and I have certainly have had a huge recovery but it is a daily struggle. The struggle to push through what you know is temporary proves so hard at times. Easing your mind that you are not going to get the flu from a friend, you are not going to get into a car accident on 85, you can enjoy this movie theatre and nothing is likely to happen and if it does, its okay because you cant control everything and not should you try. You will miss out on life.
What I have learned today is that it is okay to share your fears. That shame is a toxic emotion that makes anxiety worse; because all the while, you are saying to yourself, “this is stupid just calm down” and you are embarrassed of yourself. These negative fears and phobias that plague the lives of people who struggle with anxiety can overtake and control if allowed. I know I have certainly allowed it to control me. Not because it is easier; I don’t want to sit on the side lines. Miss out on life. I allowed it to have control because I was too embarrassed to share. I never shared with my friends and loved ones; I simply avoided activities that an attack can pop up. How would I suddenly explain that I feel like running or that I feel like I am about to die?
Please don’t pity me. It has taken so much for me to admit to the world that I am in recovery for anxiety. Especially Stress Induced Anxiety. We should be able to handle stress right? I would give anything to rid myself of this and that is what I am doing. I am giving up shame, guilt, embarrassment, and secrecy.
As I continue to recover from this, I thank God for the experiences and coming out on the other side of it. I appreciate finding out that I have incredible strength and that I can push through the hard times. When I walk into unknown places or enter tight elevators and I feel the twinge tingling down my arm, and the quicken heartbeat I remember who I am, and the game changes. I remember that I am strong. That I have strength that I never knew I had.