An Open Dialogue with Anxiety

This is honestly really hard for me to write about.

I have struggled with these experiences that I don’t have a name for, so I call it anxiety, I call it panic attacks, but it feels like a black wave enveloping my body. These sparks of lightning zapping my brain, making my thoughts unclear and my vision blur. It feels like a dark energy enters my crown chakra and tries to take over my body. The blood rushes to my internal organs in a panicked flight. My hands distort and fingers spasm, unable to control my limbs. My body wants to accordion in on itself. It wants to hide in the comfort of a warm bed of light. Just get me out of here. But, the door is locked. You can see the safe light, but you can’t get in. I bang on the tempered glass. Trying to escape the feeling of overwhelm. Trying to run away from the dark voices. But, they are still here, spiraling my thoughts into fear, into death, into how to escape. My ears feel full. The outer world seems quiet even though I’m in a loud crowd. Their voices are dampened by this much stronger voice that plugs itself into my ears like headphones. Taking up the space with messages from past loved ones, both mine and everyone’s around me. I realize this energy is not evil, but it is all consuming. It tries to use my body as a vessel. Shouting untranslatable tongues. My body shuts down in fear. I can’t understand. Leave me alone. You are not welcome here. My fingers feel cold, my head feels like it is in a cloud, detached from rest of my body, and my core is sweating. I start to tap on my chest. You are love. You are light. You are safe. But it doesn’t back down. It’s here to stay. These waves of discomfort like ghosts entering your body and trying to make themselves at home. But their entry and exit are faint inducing. Big swooshes of black then light. I can’t swallow, my head no longer attached. My mind unable to control rest of my body. Everything feels tight, closing in. I’m losing control. My words are no longer mine, but instead mutters of panic. Help.

This is what my panic feels like. It will come out of nowhere. It usually likes to stay and play for a while. And then it will hibernate for long periods as well.

I did something I’ve never tried before this weekend. I was out to eat with people I had just met. The second I sat down at the table…. the black wave hit me. I rushed to the bathroom in a panic. Tried to tap it away. This baby wasn’t going anywhere. So I excused myself outside, honored the fear and cried. I walked back in, teary-eyed, and explained that since my brother passed, I have been experiencing these waves of panic and they are aggravated by crowded places. Honestly, I don’t really even remember their reaction, other than confirming I didn’t need to apologize. (I should note that normally I pretend I’m fine, which is a huge struggle.)

Next, (and because I ended up sitting outside while they ate) I decided I would just talk to this black all-consuming blob.

First, all I wanted to do was send it anger… “fuck off assholes, I just want my life back.”

But, the more power I give it, the more panic I catapult into. Which I try to respond to with “You are safe. You are safe. You are safe.”

So, then I tried another route… “Okay, if you aren’t going away, then WHY are you here? What message do you have for me today?”

Opening that door was extremely scary. And it didn’t make the panic go away. But, it was freeing. Maybe I can just talk to this thing, let it know that I’d really prefer it make an appointment. Oh, and NOT to visit me when I’m at dinner.

So, instead of running in panic, I’m taking a new path. To honor this feeling by sharing it with others. And opening the dialogue.

We’re going to have a long talk today. I’ll let you all know what comes up.

Thank you for listening. I hope this empowers you to confront your anxiety as well.

xo Sarah

(image by Geoffrey Vail Brown)

3 thoughts on “An Open Dialogue with Anxiety

  1. Kacy says:

    I suffer from anxiety and have had tons of panic attacks in my days. It is so hard to accept and surrender to since it can it something so deeply frightening. I applaud you for writing into this space that is hard, scary and challenging.

  2. Bea says:

    I was there too and know how scary it is. Accepting the fears and letting it wave through you without trying to struggle against it, made it go away faster for me. It took me a long time to learn this. But you are not alone!

  3. Reba says:

    What an amazing way to talk to your anxiety! I hadn’t ever thought of that, seriously KUDOS to you for going out to dinner with people you had only just met! I know how much of a struggle that can be! It’s a step, and every great journey begins with just one.

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