Hey y’all, it’s been a while! Life has been busy with the end of the semester, moving, my birthday, and lots of other things, but I’m back! I’m back, and ya girl is struggling a little bit.
3 years ago around this time, I had my first ever panic attack. I was walking out of the gym after a great workout. I don’t remember if it was text, call, or email from my boss at the time, but it pushed me over the edge. I went from post-workout high to feeling like I had a life jacket on with a hippopotamus on my chest and uncontrollable tears. How I drove myself home that day, I’ll never understand, but it took about 30 minutes to catch my breath and come down from it. It was absolutely terrifying, but I knew what sparked it. A few weeks later, I left that job and moved back to Texas.
Fast forward to two weeks ago while whisking egg whites with Otto at my feet and something mindless on TV, I was overcome with dread. “You’re going to be alone forever. None of your relationships are valid. Everyone you consider a friend is going to leave you, and you’re not going to have anyone. You might as well cut everyone off now before they cut you off.” I felt my heart rate spike, I was back to that life jacket feeling, and the tears felt endless. I had the peace of mind to text a friend about 15 minutes in, who reminded me that I have anxiety medicine. Two pills, some grounding techniques, and 30 minutes later, I felt like I was finally coming down. I remained on edge all night, and felt like I had the mother of all hangovers for the following two days.
There was “no reason” for this to happen. When I tell y’all life has been good, it’s been SO good. I got accepted into a PhD program. I’m presenting at my first conference professionally next week. I’m very close to having some answers about my back injury, and training has been going well. My family is healthy. Contrary to what my brain was telling itself, I have an awesome group of friends both near and far who aren’t going anywhere. All of these positive thoughts were running through my head while I was simultaneously sure I was going to be alone forever. That’s the kicker about being anxious but emotionally aware: I know it’s not true, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking it.
Ten days later (yesterday), I still hadn’t shaken the feeling of dread, and I had a moment with myself of, “Girl, call your damn therapist.” I did, and the following conversation happened after pleasantries with the administrative assistant.
Me: Hey! I know it’s been a while; can I get back in to see
Her: Sure, what’s going on?
Me: …oh, you want to talk right now?
Her: No, but give me an idea of what’s happening.
Me: Oh, well I’ve been feeling like I’m going to be alone forever and no one in my life is actually in my life for real and I really want to cut everyone off and live my life like that Whitesnake song because it’s easier to cut people off before they leave.
Her: ::brief pause:: Yep, so when are you free?
We talked about some interim self-care measures I can take between now and our appointment, and shortly thereafter hung up. We talked grounding and breathing exercises and triggers. Ya know what we didn’t talk about? Bubble baths. Three-wick candles. Online shopping. Wanna know why?
::clears throat, grabs megaphone, and hops on a rooftop::
Because self-care is bigger than bubble baths and face masks. It’s bigger than glass of wine or a joint or some CBD. It’s bigger than tidying up or taking a nap or buying the shoes. These all can be facets of self-care, but sometimes, you need more help than you can give yourself. I know therapy isn’t an option for everyone, but at some point, you’re very likely going to have to ask for help from someone who isn’t just a friend/partner/family member. So damn it, girl (or guy or person), call them. Call your therapist. Call your energy healer. Call your pastor. Call your mentor. You cannot always expect your friends and loved ones to be able to help you, but professionals who can help come in many forms. Ask for help because even if you want to, doing everything on your own isn’t sustainable.