The Elephant In My Life

 Elephants are beautiful majestic animals. They are also some of the heaviest animals on earth. This perspective of being on the ground and them coming for you, it’s a good illustration of what an anxiety attack feels like.

There is a difference between being anxious and worried about something and suffering from anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks can come on with seemingly no warning. Let me rephrase that. There usually are warnings but I’m usually too busy living my life and ignoring them. (Not recommended.) Except for my migraines. Those are hard to miss. But they are my last warning that some major anxiety attacks are on their way.

My anxiety attacks will go dormant for a few years if I’m taking care of myself. But then my life spins completely out of control, and let’s face it, life has a habit of sending you curve balls (especially if you have children with special needs and a husband in the military). I deal really well with the immediate aftermath of a situation. It is only later, when I feel everyone else is okay and it is safe and I think I’ve made it past that hurdle then these things we call anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and a few other names, rears its ugly head.

When I’ve gone through a period of remission and my anxiety attacks come back, in my case it likes to choose a totally new way to exhibit symptoms which make it harder to realize what is going on.

Although I wasn’t diagnosed until my husband’s first tour in Iraq, I believe my first time with anxiety attacks was when I was a live-in nanny and broke my leg. My boss was NOT very understanding. I spent almost 6 months in either a cast or a brace. I couldn’t eat much and would throw up. A few years later I was married and my husband was in Iraq with the military. This time it made me shake uncontrollably, feel detached from what was going on and made the room spin. That was LOTS of fun 😬. The next time I was living with my Mother-in-law while my husband was going through training, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. The doctors at first thought it was asthma and I even had a trip in the back of an ambulance as I couldn’t breathe. Nope. It’s just my old friend anxiety attack rearing it’s ugly head again. The latest is severe eye pain accompanied with migraines.

Frequently “lesser” attacks feel like the world is overwhelming and everything is going wrong, I can’t do anything right, and everything is going to go wrong. I’ve learned not to listen to these thoughts. I know that it is all in my brain and the chemicals in my brain are out of whack. This is usually due to me not being vigilant about taking my medication and it’s at those moments that I need to take my medicine, make my world smaller for a short time, get a good night’s sleep, remember to breathe and most of the time things look better in the morning.

Some things it has been important for me to learn with this disability-

  • It’s not my fault. I didn’t cause this.
  • What my brain is telling me is probably not true, so I need to wait to make big decisions.
  • Sometimes, it’s okay to make your world smaller as long as it isn’t permanently. Quit answering the phone and texts. Take time to focus on me. Some personalities I just can’t handle during this time, though I like those people.
  • I can and should ask for help when I need it.
  • I need to listen to what my body is telling me. Have I been spreading myself too thin? Are there too many obligations on my plate right now?

This is something I will probably always have to live with. It is something I will always have to watch for and work through. Maybe my experiences can help someone else out there.


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