The other day I was at work. I work at a farm and my boss and I were hauling brush from underneath a patch of spruce trees to be burned at a later time. All that to say, I was focused and working quite hard.
All of a sudden, my boss mentioned my upcoming trip to New York (which I am currently traveling) and I answered that I was excited. Nothing special. Nothing out of the ordinary. She then mentioned my internship in Guatemala. Again, I said I was excited and we moved on to the spiders that were crawling up and down our backs at the moment.
But my body had apparently not forgotten that Guatemala was approaching closely. Without even noticing it, my heart rate excelled to a dangerous pace, my breathing became rapid and it wasn’t until my head felt dizzy that I realized I was having a panic attack. And then the actual fear came.
…I was too stressed about internship during vacation to enjoy New York?
…the city caused me to have a panic attack?
…I didn’t have any fun because anxiety would ruin everything?
…I got scared and wouldn’t do anything but hide?
Thankfully, I’ve had anxiety for a few years now. I know what to expect and how to deal with these questions. In fact, I don’t think my boss even noticed the few moments I steadied myself against the trees, hoping the terror of *nothing* to pass away.
And it did. I think things are working better inside my brain these days 😉 and by the end of my shift I had forgotten what I had been anxious about, despite the fact that this particular attack had been the worst one I’ve had in a LONG time, and I thought my life was over.
All that to say, as I was panicking, I remember thinking to myself, “Well, I’ve been through this before. I can do this again. It’s not the end of the world.” Now, these are good things to think when you have a panic attack. But I suddenly realized that this sort of anxiety had become my new normal. This was everyday stuff to me. I’ve spent years of my life thinking that I would forever be afraid of how these attacks work: paralyzing me with irrational fear and trying to escape the depression that follows, the inability to focus on anything else, and the constant wondering if anyone else ever is truly as anxious as me. But slowly, I have become accustomed to fear. It’s like fear doesn’t scare me anymore.
At some level, its always a little unsettling when you realize that fear is a part of who you are, and you have become friendly with the reaction to terror. Irrational terror.
Nevertheless, it is so comforting to be able to stand under the spruce trees, in panic and terror and be like, “Hey, its okay. If you can do this, you can do anything. It’s alright. Don’t worry. It’s just Anxiety again”
Is that odd?