Coping With Life While Struggling With Anxiety

547261_10201276813635636_507554525_nHave you ever started out your day normally, woke up, made breakfast, kissed your husband and child, felt all the happiness in the world and then BAM!… are over taken by a wave of indescribable fear? Your heart starts pounding, heat rushes quickly across your face, your extremities start tingling. You get dizzy, can’t form a single rational thought and no one around you understands. I have. Many of you might not know this about me, but I suffer from chronic anxiety.

It has been something that I have struggled with since childhood. As a child, I had a specific disorder called Trichotillomania, where I would pull hair from by body. I would yank out my eyelashes, eyebrows, the hair from my head & tweeze hair from my legs. These actions were soothing to me.

Throughout my life, my anxiety has changed and taken on many different forms. Some days are manageable, other days it is debilitating. I have been through, therapy & medication. Therapy did not help. Medication worked, but I found that I could not function without it. When we decided we were going to try for a baby, I weaned myself off & never looked back. I refused to live my life dependent on pills. This was a very painful time for me. The pain that your body can feel because of your mind is frightening. I learned to meditate during this period. I learned how to slow down my breathing and my mind. This helped me through my pregnancy, but after the birth of my daughter I found that it was becoming unmanageable again.

I never know when an episode or an attack might occur. Some come on sudden & hard. They may enter in a flash and hit the unbearable and then fizzle out within an hour’s time. Some present themselves more subtlely, leaving me feeling emotionally drained, lightheaded and scared. This can last for days or for weeks. This is a difficult reality for me. It makes it even more difficult when trying to take care of a toddler. I am not always able to be the kind of wife and mother that I would like to be, but I try my best.

Today was my daughter’s weekly gymnastics. It is always a challenge getting through a 45 minute class with my rambunctious child. Today was worse. During her class, Mai was her usual self. She was running around the mats instead of waiting in line to go through the obstacle course. She was being a toddler. As I was chasing her, an all too familiar feeling came over me. I suddenly became uncomfortably hot. The tightness in my chest triggered a series of burps brought on by stress-induced acid reflux. A million dizzying thoughts started jumping around in my head, making me feel as if I was out of my body looking in. My movements became more sluggish and it was a struggle to propel my body forward to retrieve my running daughter. In a panic, I told her “We need to go home.” She cried and said “Nooooo, mama.” I told her that she needed to stay still, that “Mama doesn’t feel good”. She settled down just long enough to get me through the end of her class. I felt a pang of guilt. My daughter doesn’t understand. She is just enjoying being a happy kid.

When we returned home, I set my daughter down for a nap in her crib. I meditated and prayed in her bedroom as I watched her sleep. Her soft breaths and sweet face brought some peace back to my tense spirit.

The truth is my family is the best therapy that I can ask for.




17 comments on “Coping With Life While Struggling With Anxiety

  1. Aww, thank you for sharing what you have been through and truly love that your family has helped you in managing your anxiety. Any you are so right they are all that matters.

  2. What a story, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you to cope with your anxiety while having a toddler running around! One thing crossed my mind reading your story: you wrote that many people around you don’t know about this. Couldn’t it be safer for you and your family to inform your surrounding, in case something happened? Just my two cents.

    1. No, I meant my readers. I haven’t ever shared that side of myself before. Those close to me know. I have a wonderful support system. When it is so bad that I fear that I may not be able to care for my daughter, my husband or mother in law jump right in to help. It is hard though for people that don’t have this to understand, even as much as they would like too. It is luckily very rare that I have these severe panic episodes. Some quick meditative breathing can usually get me through the day with some discomfort. Understand, that not everyday is like this. I have gone long periods of time sometimes without them, but when they do occur, it can sometimes be crippling. But, I just push through. I can’t let it ruin my life.

      1. Two thumbs up for your spirit, and glad to hear you have a supportive network. I really hope you will be able to get rid off those ‘inner monsters’, or at least push them away deep down so they can’t control your life. I don’t know if that’s a realistic hope, but I do hope for you. Hugs!!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I started to struggle with anxiety postpartum and so know what you are going through (wrote about it in my first post ever). best of luck!!!

  4. Some days I really miss you at work. You were such a breath of fresh air.
    I wonder how you handled last winter. For me the lack of sunshine made for way too many grim days, feeling lost and hopeless. I can’t imagine what it would have been like with chronic anxiety thrown in.
    I have suffered from some pretty bad anxiety. The last times were on and off during grad school, which ended two years ago. During late 1985, it was really bad. It got to the point where I’d be waiting at the bus, terrified that the birds were going to come at me from out of the sky. It was a hard semester. I took some incompletes.That took the pressure off, and the anxiety went away. But it had never occurred to me that I could fundamentally terrified.

  5. Some days I miss you at work. You were such a breath of fresh air.
    Anxiety can be paralyzing. I have suffered from it when I have been under too much pressure, or feel that I have lost control of my life, and that I don’t know how to get the control back. The first time around was in ’85. Before then it had never occurred to me that I could be so fundamentally terrified. I hope your family really does continue to help.

    1. Thank you, Dan. You are missed as well. I enjoyed my time working with all of you. I am sorry to hear that you have also suffered from this. It can definitely be paralyzing and terrifying. For the most part I have learned how to handle severe attacks, but the overall uneasy feeling still remains. My family is my greatest gift and also source of comfort. I hope you are well. Thanks for sharing your experiences and kind comments.

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