Updated: May 14
People are quick to judge a situation based on what they heard about it. Experience teaches wisdom. I have always empathized with people who suffer from anxiety, depression and other serious mental illnesses because of the work I do. To hear someone describe their symptoms and not be sympathetic is cold, really cold. Some people are quick to dismiss the existence of such conditions because it would appear that people with mental illnesses are faking it for attention. Especially if their outward appearance mirrors that of a ‘perfectly normal human being’. Wrong.
Mental health is important. Taking care of your mental state is important. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a recurring mental health condition to experience the complexities of an anxiety attack, or even depressive symptoms. As humans, simple things such as stress can leave you crippled beyond recognition and a complete state of bewilderment.
I am writing this only 3 short hours after what would appear to be a full-blown anxiety attack. I’ve written about them from a third party perspective, listened and offered sympathy to clients who have had attacks but never for dear life did I think that I would get one like this. There could’ve been a number of triggers but I surely did not see it coming or knew what it was. I started having cold-like symptoms, I knew what that felt like so it was no big deal. Right after lunch I noticed that my body was feeling a little weak, maybe some lightheadedness with a slight headache. I had the flu earlier this year and those were the exact symptoms, I wasn’t worried. They changed; the drained feeling got worse, my body was doing so much, I had no idea what to do with myself. I immediately told my supervisor that I wasn’t well, she asked if I ate and recommend that I have my afternoon snack. I had the yogurt and tea and still, I felt as if something serious was about to happen to my body. I was confused by the feeling. There was an intense pressure as if someone had my head in a vice grip. I walked to her not knowing how to explain what was happening. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. She rushed me to the bathroom and told me to put cold water on my face and neck, and breathe. As the feeling subsided, I began to shake, my legs held me up but I was visibly shaking. Things were a little better until I got back to my desk. I couldn’t keep still and my mind was all over the place, I was still quite overwhelmed. I took a walk and ended up in the bathroom again, applying more cold water. I needed air, I needed to breathe. The office manager offered to contact emergency services but I declined. Two co-workers helped me to an empty window with an open window to help soothe the worst feeling ever to come over me. The final 15 minutes of my work day was spent controlling my breathing, drinking water and clearing my head. I turned the computer monitor off and that was it.
To those who suffer from chronic anxiety:
I know now that it’s not as easy as just breathe and drink some water.
I know it’s hard saying what is bothering you, especially when you can’t even think straight.
I know that in your head, you know what to do but your body refuses to cooperate.
Things take time and the last thing you want is to be stressed.
Saying, ‘take it easy’ is easy. Taking it easy, not so easy.
I just have to say that I am lucky. There were people around that understood what was happening and took control. I am blessed to have support. I have always been proud of my mental strength and I am still proud. I think it’s safe to say that I am stressed and a little overwhelmed and I need to slow down and take it easy. Worrying doesn’t help, it hurts. Again, I have to remember to pray more. Release the bad energy and release the worry.
What can you do as an outsider?
Listen. Be there. Love.