Hello anxiety!

**(Trigger Warning: Anxiety attack / Panic attacks)**

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In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized how living with anxiety is somehow in-describable in words. So this is an attempt to do that!

I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in 2014 with many other surprises. Funnily by then I was already living with it since three years, completely unaware of it's co-existence within my mind. But 2014 was when it got worse. That sudden tightening of the chest, inability to breath normally, hands and feet turning cold, a tight band closing onto the crown area, increased heart-beat to an extent that you can feel that thumping with every fiber of your being - this aptly describes my anxiety attacks which increased not only in the degree but also in frequency. It gradually metamorphosed into panic attacks and reached a phase where I would end up having both leaving me totally baffled.  

Scared. Lonely. Helpless. Every time I got an attack, my feelings would oscillate between these three words. Was this how death arrived? I wondered in those nanoseconds before the ice-cold feeling took over my senses completely.  If there was one thing I had learnt from my depression phase it was 'This is not how my story ends!'. But my anxiety attacks always made me wonder if this is how my story was going to end. The feeling of despair though hovering above me, never managed to reach my senses as the fear of the unknown kept on multiplying all the while. 

I didn't know what was my trigger or perhaps I knew but didn't want to acknowledge it. This is what happens when you grow up being taught how to hide your feelings. You begin lying to yourself. You keep telling yourself you are okay even when it is not. You keep ignoring the hurt, anger or pain your heart feels and try keeping up a fake smile because you have been told not to cry, not to be honest, not to fight, to argue, express your thoughts or back answer. One and a half decade is a time enough to train your subconscious into behaving like this. And finally you reach a phase where you have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within you. The good behavior always displayed at right places, before the right people and the bad behavior with all the harmful thoughts comes out the moment you are alone. It is as if, you are unable to bear the mere presence of the real you, with it's ugliness, cuts, wounds, scars, tears and the hurt displayed in all its ugliness.


2018. The year when I felt I had finally figured it all out. I recognized my signs from early on and had successfully managed to avert full blown attacks. Though not fully, I knew some of my triggers and began to stay away from it all. Till November when the ghosts from my past arose again.

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I clearly remember I wanted to attend an author's talk. He being one of my most favourite author, I could push myself to leave the house and go out... something I had not done in months. Or so, I thought! After all, how difficult can it be to travel till the nearest station, take a metro to the place where the meet is happening, walk down to the venue, listen to that author for 2 hours and come back home? Trust me - VERY! It turned out to be extremely difficult as my panic started showing signs the moment I reached the station but I decided to not give in so easily. After all I had waited for three years to meet this author, it better be worth it.

Gathering all my courage I somehow managed to reach the venue almost half an hour early. And that is where the gravity of the whole situation dawned upon me. I did not know a single soul there. Was this even a good idea in the first place? Oh my gosh I am hungry now... a zillion thoughts scrambled through my brain and I knew my panic attack was building up.

I fished out my phone to call a friend but could not dial as my hands refused to stay still. Once the call got connected I couldn't speak and was simply fumbling for 5 minutes or so when my friend said,' It's okay... shhh... don't worry... !'

Somehow that words helped and I let own a wail. Soft enough to not disturb the passersby, loud enough for my friend to get the hint. Yes, I was standing in the middle of the street and howling away because I didn't know what, why and where. It all felt strange. This is what anxiety does to you. It shatters your confidence, makes you question your decision making ability and leaves you perplexed.

After my friend was done trying to calm me down, I found my voice back and screamed ,' Idiot, why did you have to leave me alone. You should have come along. I am hungry and I don't know what to do. This place is deserted and am feeling weird here now. Am taking the next train back home.'

'We will think about the train later. As of now, there is a wonderful eatery just next door. Hop over and have some hot food first of all.'

'I can't see anything!'

'It is right there. Blue doors, glass windows. Can you see something like that?'

After looking around for a bit, 'Ya..... but it says tap room. I don't drink. Doesn't look like a place I would be comfortable at. Loud music, too many people and just too much for me to bear.'

'Oh it has a superb menu. They even have some of your favourite dishes. Just go in...'

My friend stayed on phone till I went in, ordered and ate. All the while I was shivering (in peak summer) and my heart was thudding like crazy. 

Just to add: I did manage to attend the event, holding my nervous palms tightly. 

This post was lying in my drafts since two months and believe me when I say it almost gave me another attack just to write it all out. But I know I needed to, just the way I know I need to face these attacks and not let them get the better of me.  It is not easy writing about it and it is not easy dealing with it. You don't know when and how it will strike you. All you can do is be prepared to face it every single time and manage to drive it away. 

Meeting people, travelling in public transport, phone calls, shopping - some of the most seemingly fun things in life are actually some of the very things that cause anxiety and panic. Anxiety is real. Panic is real. It can't be seen or heard but can only be felt and that too most of the times only by the person who is going through it. Believe in them, in their nightmares.

Comments

  1. I can so relate. . Going through the same.

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    1. Hugs <3

      Sending good vibes your way as you face it all bravely!

      Take care.

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  2. It took every ounce of your courage, I believe, to write about this so honestly and openly, Privy. How my heart aches for you! My daughter has suffered with panic attacks in the past, though now, through treatment and medication, they have abated. Praying you can help with these, too, dear one!

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    1. Absolutely Martha and still as I read it, I feel that familiar tug in my chest. Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers... and thank you for always listening to my blabber. It really means a lot to me my friend.

      Sending good wishes your way

      Take care

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  3. Big hugs, Privy. I must be honest, I don't know these. So I probably can't feel the full effect of what you go through. But that being said, you're amazing. And you can do this. Oh, and you have a great friend too. Stay blessed, both of you!

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    1. Hugs right back Deepa. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, they truly mean a lot to me!

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