Today was the first day this week I felt at ease in the office. Before this morning the pace of the coming month was revealing itself, and meetings stacked on top of meetings caught up with me. And in keeping with my goal of expressing vulnerability, I can admit that I had an anxiety attack on Tuesday afternoon. I know how to ride them out now and what I have to do to make sure I come out of it okay, but it happened.
Another challenge for me is mindfulness, so I try in those moments to remember that it’s not going to kill me and concentrate on what I can do to help it pass. I have been asked what my anxious moments feel like; the passage below is my attempt to “write my way out of it” while maybe explaining what frequent yoga, “me time” breaks and a modified diet and supplement regimen are helping me to avoid.
It is an unstoppable and unmistakeable quickening of the pulse and breath, coming on suddenly but staying far longer than you would ever expect or hope for;
It is an inability to breathe deeply, with the heaviness of something indeterminate or unknown bearing down on your chest;
It is the tingling of the fingers and the tightening of the shoulders, reaching for something you want to find in your bag or in a drawer; what you’re looking for, you can’t quite say;
It is the shifting of the eyes, slowly at first, then more and more quickly in search of something to jog the memory of what you might be looking for or needing;
It is the racing of the mind, ruminating and repeating standard tasks in hopes of remembering what you are positive is being overlooked, or what you will say to the person you’re sure you’re letting down or forgetting;
It is the desire to close all the doors and pull down the shades, to sit or lie down eyes squeezed shut until the racing stops and the world slows down;
It is the gradual understanding that these feelings are both transitory and constant, fleeting and everpresent. It is the acceptance of the fact that no matter how these moments are managed or mitigated, that they may never truly leave. It is the belief that these moments will not define you, and do not have to render you powerless between their occasional appearances. It is the faith in the fact that you are bigger than these moments, that they will pass, and that you will be standing when the pulse slows, the breath returns, and the panic subsides.