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.
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?
Music is truly one of the most powerful things in existence. It has the power to move your body, soul and mind and it plays a very large role in my life. I, of course, have no musical talent whatsoever (unless you include my ability memorize rap lyrics) but that doesn’t mean my musical consumption isn’t a heavy hitter in my life. Music is one of the only components of my life that I am able to share in unique relationships with others. Meaning, my sharing of music with each person is different and special in its own way.
I’m certain you’re wondering how music relates to my anxiety, especially if you’ve gotten through the first paragraph of this post. I like to start the day with music that will help define my day. For example, I started today off with Reborn (a collaboration from Kid Cudi and Kanye West) to get myself in a mindset to write about my own struggles with mental health.
“Keep moving forward, keep moving forward“
The lyrics, the rhythm, the soul of the song can bring you to a place of safety and happiness. Music is the element that can help you time travel to a time when a particular sound made you feel alive, made you feel something because it is just so easy to slip into a numb way. This method of release and relaxation of my thoughts is a useful one to me. It was once suggested to me to note how a song made me feel in a spreadsheet or calendar so that I could go back to it when I needed to be reminded of that time or feeling. This is a healthy coping technique for me, not a solution but a technique to quiet the anxious wind tunnel of thoughts I can often have. Feeling like I can relate to a song is also a reminder that I am not alone in these thoughts and feelings even when they become so overwhelming I feel like I cannot breathe.
Music has a way of being powerful over your soul but you also maintain power in how you use that. It’s a matter of being controlled by the sound but having control over what you hear, but not what you feel. And isn’t that we all want with our anxiety struggles? Just a little bit of control.
Up until maybe a few days ago I was unaware I could take a sick day from work under the pretense that it was a mental health day. A coping mechanism for me within the constructs of my struggles with depression and anxiety is to just keep busy. Pull a Nemo and just keep swimming. The difficult thing about avoiding your demons is that they will eventually catch up to you no matter how fast, or far you run. It can be easy to keep busy all Summer, for me at least. There is always a party, work to do, or some sort of distraction. The colder it gets, the more I want to stay in an inhale comfort food (lobster mac and cheese my dude I am looking lovingly at you). Staying in means marathoning nature documentaries I’ve seen a million times, a cornucopia of cat cuddles and my least favourite part: being in my own head.
This entire post, of course, is hypocritical as I tend to focus on caring for my loved ones and their problems before my own, this is a feeble attempt to pretend my problems aren’t there. They are very much there. They have a comfortable spot in my mind and seep into my day like an IV into one’s veins. I very much understand that by doing this my problems are not only not going away but forcing me to project the feelings I have about them on other people. I’m angry at things I shouldn’t be angry about because I refuse to take a look at why I really am angry. In the same way that I am sad about things that are not the true issue.
To reiterate, these posts are not about me offering advice (I have a marketing degree, not a psychology one) I just want to let people know they aren’t alone in their thoughts. It can be very easy to think this is the only way it will be, it’s not.
Okay so, no one seemed to hate volume one? I am still ironically shaking with anxiety from the first post hitting screens.
Volume 2 deals with social media which plays a big part in the majority of my own personal social circle (and a lot of others I assume too).
Personally, I use Facebook + Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter (the 3 main social media apps) the most. Zuckerburg’s baby is my main source of event information and trip planning. I make the most of the ability to “commit” to attending an event without having to really attend it. If the event is a big one I can easily bail on it and never have to provide an explanation why I wasn’t in attendance. I’ll bail for many reasons mainly because I feel like I’m not really wanted there. While I am well aware a personal invite is really a thing of the past I still feel like I’m not really wanted at an event/party. This is, of course, not a ‘boo-hoo no one invites me out’ post. I am very blessed to be a part of a very large social circle so it can often be easy to feel lost in it. When smaller groups of people get together there is a real FOMO feeling for things that I truly would probably decline an invitation to. “Why did no one invite me to brunch after an event I didn’t go to?”. These are things that go through my head, and these are things that I felt if I were to express to my friends they would make an effort to invite me out more. This is not what I desire. I would then think it was a pity invite but I can’t explain why this would be my immediate thought when it is seemingly what I desire?
Now, the real FOMO lies within the world of Instagram. Yes as I write this there are 100 million posts from Coachella which I’m not really too upset I missed but there are a lot of comments with #FOMO on them. A picture is worth a thousand words but all we really want is for it to be worth a thousand likes. The caption and filters on a picture are used to make something look better than it was when it was captured. While I understand this notion in theory in use I end up thinking ‘wow it looks like they had a lot of fun” “why wasn’t I invited to this?” “They probably wouldn’t want me there anyway”.
Twitter is where I let go a bit with all my subtweeting, I have no shame in it.
But I do sometimes end up actually going out. I post on social media about the great time I’m having and share photos of genuine happiness. I find myself even if for just a minute feeling a sense of loneliness even when surrounded by people though. This moment is something that I reminded of whenever I agree to come out too.
Social media can be great for your anxiety at times though. I utilized the ongoing of others’ lives on various apps during my first state of grief when my father passed away. The reminder that life goes on was something I needed for myself. I now use social media to check in with others. I know that even little heart emoji messages that I get from friends keep me going. These messages are a reminder that they are there, despite our locations, or state of mind. AND OH WHAT A FANTASTIC WAY TO IGNORE PEOPLE. The death of flip phones meant the death of slamming a phone shut when you are mad. NOW I CAN LEAVE PEOPLE ON ‘READ’ ON MESSENGER. I can click ‘mark as unread’ and pretend I haven’t even seen the message. BUT I HAVE, OH I HAVE. And then like a phoenix from the ashes I rise and I drop a ‘sup’ as if I was just too dang busy for life.
At the end of the day, I’m sure I would have been welcomed at any of the events I alienate myself from. I’m sure no one (okay not ON ONE) would sigh upon my arrival in disapproval. But these are things I am worried about even with the huge social circle and support system that I have. It all stems from underlying issues with my own self-worth and yes I may sometimes project that negatively onto others. But I swear to you I am trying to change that. Online therapy is a tool I use since I’m already online on these apps, find more info on it through BetterHelp!
Is there a topic you want me to babble about? Leave me some love in the comment section! Or hate because you are allowed to have feelings.