That was pleasant Saturday morning when I sat with a cup of coffee after eating my favourite pancakes for breakfast. Little by little I started losing focus on a book I was reading. I felt trapped. I felt that I’m losing not only a breath but also a mind and ground beneath my feet. The walls surrounding me started to get closer, while the same thing was happening inside my mind.
Sounds like I experienced something horrible? Like I was part of some disturbing accident? Well, you know – in fact, nothing had happened. Just another panic attack.
Anxiety attack is not only a crushed stomach and trembling hands – it is above all a paralysis that overwhelms the body and mind. As if you were squeezed in a black hole from which you cannot get out.
Even when everything is fine, relapses will come back
It is typical of neurosis and panic attack that they often appear for no good reason. If you’ve ever experienced a breakdown like this, you know the trigger can be anything, even something you wouldn’t think of. It is just happening at some level of our consciousness. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on yourself. Accurately and honestly assess ourselves and the situations we are in. If it weren’t for my physical symptoms, I would never have thought that lockdown and the pandemic had any effect on my well-being.
Despite being one of the lucky people (who have not lost their jobs, whos business going well, and who have exiting opportunities appearing on the horizon) I can notice that the whole world has turned upside down and it had some destructive effect on my psyche. And if you are dealing with any of those dark friends like anxiety, depression or addiction you should realize that there’s no end to that story. Sometimes, even if everything seems to be just fine, they might come back and knock on your door. Now, it’s only up to you if you open and invite them in.
How naive I was that not being able to sleep for almost 3 weeks has nothing to do with my state of being. Of course, I tried to explain it somehow – overwork, stress as we were finishing accounting year, an upcoming deadline for that damn book that I have no idea how to end. My mistake was to take it as normal and pretend everything is ok. Maybe it was until that fateful morning when my unwanted neurosis guest not only entered the house but made himself at home for good.
So how should you deal with relapse?
I have to admit that drinking a whole bottle of gin to deal with it was not the healthiest solution. Well, I’m writing here so you don’t make my mistakes. There’s nothing worst than covering problems with another problem. Like dealing with anxiety on a huge hangover. Don’t do it, kids.
(And for those who loves that gin too much I have tasty piece here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/ )
Here are a few steps that you can follow to avoid the destructive effects of relapses:
- Watch yourself and accept; you need to observe your emotions – don’t ignore and push through, it only makes things worse.
- Name your enemies; you need to recognize the triggers to eliminate them before an attack occurs. Avoid situations and people that make you feel uneasy. I know this is the taught one, (especially coming to people) but we are talking about your mental health – this should be your priority, not trying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Co-workers dilemma about Kardashian’s life annoys you? Don’t go for a coffee break together. That super slim athlete friend with PhD makes you feel like old wrack? Mute his/her feed on social media. You don’t need to compare yourself to someone’s ideal world created for instagram, especially while you dealing with anxiety.
- Apply a mind detox; cut your screen time and go offline for a while. You know, there is a pretty awesome world outside there. Don’t watch the news, don’t read upsetting articles. Pick up some uplifting book or a podcast and go for a long walk. Move your body, jog, meditate. Connect with your inner energy – that peaceful place is somewhere inside you, sometimes you just need to dig really deep to discover it.
- Rely on medication if needed; in case you feel that the situation slips out of your hands and you lose control, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. We are not always able to deal with everything alone.
And the most important of all: be kind to yourself. Always.