Sometimes I truly cannot tell what is worse. The panic attack itself or the comedown from it. It’s the hangover of of the anxiety world really isn’t it?
Sometimes it will take me a few minutes, or a short rest to shake it off. The lingering feeling of terror, and worry remains on your skin like dirt that you can’t seem to scrub off.
Recently I had a pretty major panic attack. One of the ones that drags on for an entire day. I felt like I couldn’t escape and it was as if I couldn’t breathe. No one could help me, especially myself. It was infuriating for me to not be able to communicate the magnitude of the horrors splashing around in my head.
I felt so trapped in my own skin and my mind was screaming for help. I could almost think of nothing better than death at that point. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully explain the terrifying thoughts I was having.
I spent the following days coming down from that manic episode. Finding I had no appetite or energy. I felt so drained and ashamed of the behavior I exhibited. But should I be ashamed of having those thoughts? Am I crazy? This is a question I continue to ask myself.
The first few hours I felt like I had an out of body experience the night before. And I didn’t feel like myself. I was in physical pain, nauseated and sore. I wanted to tell everyone who checked in that I was okay. I wasn’t but I was getting there. I felt like a burden saying anything other than “I’m doing much better”. So that is exactly what I did.
I spent the next little while forcing myself to eat substantial meals, being active, and talking about what I had experienced. I believe it’s left a bit of a mark on my psyche still, but it’s something I’m just going to have to live with.
It was hard to have the drained feeling hanging around for so long. I felt like I was enduring a hangover I didn’t deserve. And that’s the thing, no one tells you there is recovery time from panic attacks. It’s debilitating and makes me feel ashamed to have anxiety and depression. Because I know I’m stronger than that.
This is of course not my first panic attack, or manic episode. But certainly the most recent.
So, I came up with a list. The intention being a list to refer to when I’m feeling anxious or drained. I divided it into categories including: who to contact, what to eat, songs to play, places to go, exercises to do, and things to do (eg. shower). This list will be something I can go to when I start to feel panicked, or during a “comedown” like the one I recently went through. Most importantly I felt the need to remind myself not to be so hard on ‘me’. This isn’t a life I chose, I don’t want to be this way but I am. There is no overnight fix.
What do you do during your panic attack comedowns? Let me know in the comments.
It’s common but not the best idea to listen to sad music when we are indeed already sad. A song I felt resonated with me in times of depression has been ‘Empty’ by Olivia O’Brien. You’ll get snippets of the lyrics throughout this volume of the writing project that helps me express this all.
“That’s just reality, yeah, don’t lie to me Yeah, I’m f*cked up, but I don’t wanna be“
The other day I said to a friend “I think it would be easier if I wasn’t around sometimes“. This lead to an immediate response of “that isn’t the answer” and the red flag that maybe I would hurt myself.
Thoughts like this though are the classics of someone suffering from passive suicidal ideation. It’s not really a desire to commit suicide, more so an expression that it’s just hard to be yourself sometimes.
I don’t want to be the “sad girl” all the time, I know it’s not enjoyable for anyone (mostly me, I have to be me after all). Sometimes I just don’t want to be me. For a number of reasons, but it feels like I’m suffocating and it hurts. My mind becomes a prison I can’t seem to escape.
“Sometimes I just wanna drown out All of the thoughts in my mind, too much Going on at the same time, I Wish it would stop and I’ve tried, but Life just sucks then we all die“
I know that’s why I love to sleep so much, I get to escape my own reality for a bit. I don’t have to be the me in this reality. That’s why people use drugs, and alcohol to embrace an escape. That’s the romanticization of suicide, you’ll be free from this reality.
Truthfully I have been suicidal, I planned it out. And that’s so strange for me to type and admit to a bunch of strangers reading this but it’s a thing that happened. And hey, maybe someone needed to read that. However I can’t, and won’t admit why I didn’t go through it though.
Maybe I was too scared.
“I wonder if I’m good enough Or maybe I’ve had just too much To drink, to smoke, to swallow I’m drowning up my sorrows There’s rules I’ll never follow Pretend there’s no tomorrow I wish there was no tomorrow“
In the end that is really I want sometimes. But, I am not suicidal. I want an escape from my reality, the reality where I’m this person suffering from anxiety and depression. Things that I know I shouldn’t let consume me, but sometimes they do.
I don’t want to be alive, or feel alive I want out temporarily. I still have things to do in the life, stories to tell, memories to create, people to love and words to write.
“But I’m empty inside, yeah, I’m empty inside And I don’t wanna live, but I’m too scared to die Yeah, I’m empty inside, I just don’t feel alive And I don’t wanna live, but I’m too scared to die“
It’s f*cking okay to feel this way, I realize that now. I cannot be the only person with these ideas and aches in my heart and head. And while it may not get “better” the way I hoped for it will be okay.
Many of my friends (and I should probably also be doing this) have spreadsheets of their financial budgets. With categories from food, fun to bills and the less fun life stuff. This tool is instrumental in not only the discipline of spending but in having some sort of control. Seeing the success of keeping a simple money budget got me thinking about the way I budget my time, and emotions.
More, and more I have come to learn that you need to budget your time just as you need to budget your finances. There are 24 hours in a day, and I’m certain I COULD spend it all on my phone, and watching Brooklyn 99 on Netflix but I know I shouldn’t.
What is time budgeting and why is it important for someone surviving anxiety? It closes the gap between the “high-level” life areas of responsibility and top tier goals, and the your world of tasks and external demands. It provides a balance, and a semi-routine.
This is the same with budgeting your emotions.
I have certainly mentioned in previous posts in this series that I tend to focus on other people’s problems to avoid my own but I’ve come to realize that no one, owes anyone any time. Sometimes, when you’re having a rough day it’s okay to say “I’m sorry I can’t help you right now.” and follow up when you can. Remember, it’s not at all selfish to tell a friend or loved one that you just don’t have it in you to help them. You cannot be of help if you’re not in the shape to even help yourself. Give your best self to others, not all of you.
The current focus is budgeting my time/emotions into the things that make me happy, and productive. Sure, I have my bad days where I find myself making for far too much time with emotions that just spiral into further depression. The spiral that leads to me pushing away people when I need them most, and pushing away my work/responsibilities. I need to remember to prioritize my feelings to learn to deal better with them, without the spiral.
My relationships and my work are effected when I’m not in the right mindset. When I am not properly budgeting my time or feelings I’m not myself, I’m playing a character to keep up.
There are of course many apps, and programs you can use to do this but they can be a tad overwhelming. Start with a to-do list with goals but nothing too big. Add in some daily routine things to round out the things you accomplish and get some confidence you’re “doing the thing!”. A simple spreadsheet is a good start too. Block the day off into hour increments, and tasks/goals.
Keep a balance, and take some time in the day to focus on something that makes you feel like YOU.
The headline shouldn’t scare you, but I’m betting it does. Let me start by explaining that I do not mean a to-the-t routine of the same manner every day. I merely mean small habits as part of a routine to help with anxiety. This is short one, but an important one for me.
Most of my days I wake up, have some sort of beverage be it tea, or coffee, and immediately stare at my phone for the next hour or so. I sort through my notifications, emails, and scroll through Instagram for a while. A few pauses to pet bae, or my cats but mostly focused on a screen. Maybe breakfast makes an appearance, a shower, and a bit of getting ready. By then, it’s time for more coffee, starting my work day (being a remote writer means I can work from bed tbh), and a long sigh translating to “we can get through this“. These tasks seem obvious I’m sure, but they are small pillars in keeping my day together. Finding new music, and putting on my make up are also a part of my day.
Variations of this morning make their way into my life as I travel, or find a new place to work. Again, these are foundations to my day, a way to control the overwhelming feeling that my life is crumbling each day.
These foundations extend into the evening and night too. Not only is a skincare routine important for your face but it helps me keep a hold on my night. Brush teeth, floss (jk no one remembers to floss), wash face and begin skincare routine.
“It’s all about balance” is a bullsh*t thing you hear often but it works. Let me know some of your routine foundations in the comment section.
It has taken me ten months of posts in this series to bring everything full circles within the topics of my site. Pop culture and lifestyle has always been my favourite topic to write about because of my adoration for film, TV, celebrity culture, music, and trash reality shows. For this month’s post, I wanted to dive a bit into how anxiety and depression are portrayed in media and pop culture. Given that film was where I got my foot in the door with writing I chose to focus on the silver screen. This is a shorter one, because hey February is a shorter month.
Looking back I believe the first three films I saw as a youth regarding depression were Girl, Interupted (1999), and The Virgin Suicides (1999), and Thirteen (2003). All three of the films had strong female leads and I think that really helped me get through depression I didn’t know I was experiencing. If we really want to go back, Disney hit some hard points but I didn’t truly come to understand those messages until well into my adulthood. The anxiety of being unable to figure out what was “wrong” with me weighed heavily but I felt I could always turn to my “friends” in my movies when I needed it.
These characters, the ones I felt so connected to, although fictional, aided me in an essential part of my life. The definitive moments of my youth that I didn’t realize at the time meant anything. “I’m just sad” I would think to myself “everyone gets sad and scared like this” and given that my parents were raised in a time when depression and anxiety weren’t a thing they also thought nothing of it. I could never have anticipated I’d have my own outlet just like the writers of some of my favourite films with this site.
I feel like, for me, it all started with AIM/MSN Messenger and yes that reveals a little about my age but let’s work with that a little later yeah? I remember rushing home from seeing my friends at school to get to my computer to talk to my friends from school on MSN Messenger. The nudges, the status updates and of course signing on and then back on to garner attention from your crush. This feels like the beginning of a need for an instant reply, and reaction to something I’ve said to someone. This has all given further definition and anxiety to the ellipses, that darned “…” if you will.
Flash forward a decade or so, I know here we are reflecting on my age again but you’re going to have to live with it so move on now, and we’re in the age of iMessages, and DMs to be slid into. I truthfully want to forget the times of Blackberry messenger, so we will and you’re welcome for that. None of this post is to say that face to face conversations do not still occur because they do but you can’t reflect visually upon them with horrid anxiety like you can an online chat or text thread. Any and everything you say to someone can be screenshot and shared with the most unauthorized eavesdropping ever. This is a thought that envelopes my brain when I talk to anyone. This paired with a fear of a “…” or ‘read’ checkmark with no reply from either. I will, as I assume most do, yell at my screen “I know you’ve read this so just respond”. The real-life version of this is saying something to someone’s face and having them nod and walk away without responding. Now, I certainly have my days of anti-social behaviour where I leave someone on ‘read’, but I’m usually falling back into a depression nap, or maybe I made the mistake of opening a message before I was ready to respond. This causes me to enter a state of instant regret. I feel the same way after I send any message that makes me feel vulnerable. This doesn’t make me less upset when someone does this to me.
I’m making an effort to stop overthinking when receiving, or not receiving messages. I’m trying to reinstate the idea that no one owes anyone any time into my mind. And perhaps stop throwing my phone across the room like a teenager after sending a message, but Applecare will probably cover that right?