As the proud owner of an anxiety disorder (PTSD) I am often stuck in my own mind spiraling out of control until I reach the point of panic or wanting to run and hide any time there is the hint of a change in my life. For example, living on very little income because I do not get Social Security and have issues right now with holding down a regular job in my profession – Social Work/Community Organizer, even something minor like running low on dog food can set me into a spiral. Most of the time, I can catch myself and stop the spiral over the small things but when something big happens like a cut off notice for my electric or my internet (my lifeline to the world most days) then the spiral is more like a train barreling through my head and I just have to get out of the way and let it run past.
Here are two examples of what it’s like when my mind spirals.
The first is spiraling down the rabbit hole into depression. This is not a weeklong thinking process, this is a matter of minutes my mind takes me from a little anxiety right down the rabbit hole into a deep depression which is harder for me to get out of than a panic attack. When I am down the rabbit hole it can take days or weeks for me to even want to get up and take a shower. That rabbit hole is no joke so I try real hard not to climb in it.
No internet = anxiety
Sudden change in routine= anxiety
Not being prepared ahead of time=anxiety
Too much quiet=anxiety
Being cut off from the world=anxiety
Other people talking=anxiety
No access to my blog=anxiety
No internet=no tv=no phone=no contact with the outside world
No internet=Agoraphobic tendencies exacerbated by losing contact with my support
No internet=nothing to distract my monkey mind from anxious thoughts
No internet=reading a book
No internet=writing in my journal
No internet=cleaning my house
No internet=time to think
No internet=to many thoughts
No internet=deep depression
No internet=no one cares
This second spiral takes mere seconds to get totally out of control and develop into an all-out panic attack. Which if you have never had a panic attack it feels like you are dying. It really is like you are having a heart attack and an asthma attack all at once, I know, I have had a heart attack and an asthma attack. You have this feeling like you are going to die and nothing can convince you otherwise. It is very scary not being able to breathe which just makes the panic attack even worse. They are really scary but thanks to the medication I’m on, I don’t have them as often as I used to and when I do have one, I have a rescue drug that works to stop them in just a few minutes.
We have a cut off for the electric again, even though I just paid it 2 weeks ago.
I don’t have any more money to give them.
I guess I can pawn my computer.
I can’t pawn my computer then what would I do sit in a house all day alone.
IF they cut the electric off then all the food in the frig will go bad
Then we won’t have any food and we will starve
There are no food pantries here I can walk to
I can’t take the bus because that costs money
If I spend money to take the bus to go downtown to try and get help then I have less money
What if I can’t get help
What if no one cares that the electric is going to be cut off
What if I have an emergency and my phone is dead because the electric is off and I can’t charge it.
What if it is so hot I can’t breath and the ac and fan don’t work
What if I sell the AC and fan to pay the bill
Then I will be hot and not be able to breath.
I can’t handle this
I don’t know what to do
There is no help.
I can’t breath
Oh my god I can’t breath
And my phone is going to be dead so I can’t call for help
The electric company doesn’t care that my chest is hurting
No one cares about a crazy woman with no electric
They are going to come and take me away
They are going to lock me away because I am losing my mind
O my god I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
I can’t stop crying
I can’t think
I am going to die
I am having another heart attack and this time I am going to die
Oh my god no one will find me and my dogs will starve
My cats will eat me but my dogs will starve
Oh my god I need help
Someone help me help me
I can’t breath
I can’t breath
At this point, I am laying against the wall holding my chest in a full out panic attack that nothing but my rescue meds can bring me out of. Even writing this made me start feeling those twinges of panic building.
I don’t have an answer or a cure if I did, I would bottle it and make millions. Recognizing that you are spiraling helps but you have to catch it right at the beginning before it gains any speed. Talking and knowing that you are not alone makes a huge difference. I think the thing I am trying to accomplish with this post is shedding some light on anxiety and what it’s like to live with it.