Hello friends. I've been so overwhelmed with school and work lately. It's been hard for me to write the kinds of blog posts that I've truly been wanting to write, but I had this last-minute incident occur to me this past Sunday that I wanted to address. So whether or not you're as anxiety-ridden as I tend to be, you're welcome to stay and read.
Now, might I start out by saying, anxiety isn't always too horrible to me lately. Sometimes it has actually benefited me this semester, whether that means checking my alarm multiple times before bed to ensure I wake up on time for class/work, or never turning any assignments in late this term. And I've actually been doing surprisingly well this semester. I haven't actually had a major panic attack since maybe the summer.
Let me reiterate that I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. So even if you haven't experienced a spontaneous panic attack, let me describe how frustrating it was on Sunday: Imagine everything going well. I'm at work, talking to coworkers here and there, maybe even joking around occasionally. Then all of a sudden, as I'm emptying items from truck to the sales floor, I feel an overwhelming flood of negative thoughts and emotions. And I really do mean all of a sudden. Within maybe a time frame of two minutes, I begin thinking horrible thoughts in my head, stressing out about my major, thinking I'm not good enough. Not good enough at graphic design, not good enough at blogging. Not even good enough at being a friend, a girlfriend, a student, or even an employee. Just an overwhelming realm of emotions and horrible thoughts. I just couldn't shake this feeling. So after two long minutes of being alone, pushing infant clothes to the sales floor, I start feeling my heart rush. I feel choked up, sweaty. Like I just want to run out of the store. I just wanted to go home, but I didn't want to be alone. But at the same time I didn't want to be around all the guests in our store. I just didn't know how to interact with anyone in that moment. So I began telling myself this is just anxiety, you've had probably hundreds of panic attacks in the past.
What was most frustrating about this was that it happened out of no where. I couldn't stop thinking such negative thoughts. I kept telling myself this'll be over in about fifteen minutes. Panic attacks don't last long. But surprisingly, in the next thirty or so minutes of me pushing this cart of clothes, nothing changed. I just wanted to leave more and more. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. I couldn't shake this feeling of not being good enough. I ended up telling one coworker about my panic attack as it was happening (thank you, Holly). I just calmly told her, "So um. I'm currently having a panic attack. And it's not going away."
Passing some coworkers in the back room to do some back stocking, I stayed quiet. I didn't want to seem rude, but I couldn't bring myself to talk to anyone at a certain point. I didn't want to have a panic attack at work. I felt crazy, I felt alone, and I felt so unlike myself. I just wanted to be helpful that morning, but I felt so crippled by my nerves. And I actually struggled to hold back tears the entire time I back-stocked. My mind was just so foggy and I felt like I was just in everyone's way. Of course, it was no one's actual fault. It's complicated explaining the feeling of my mind going against me, but that's kind of what it does.
Overall, my panic attack proceeded through the next few hours, then fizzled out near the end of my shift. By fizzled, I don't mean it went away entirely. I would feel calm. Exhausted (panic attacks drain me so much), but still calm. And then I would still feel a small build-up of nervousness here and there, but other than that, I could sort of talk to people again.
I think one of the most frustrating parts about experiencing a sense of panic spontaneously is that I'm aware that I have responsibilities. I knew I wasn't going to leave work early, as much as I desperately wanted to, because I needed to contribute as much as I could to emptying the softlines items from truck. I hate faking it, but on days like this past Sunday, I had to keep my struggle silent and try as hard as I could to seem normal. Just for the period of my shift, since I was around consumers and coworkers.
One of my most passionate topics on this blog is the topic of mental health. I don't want anyone to feel alone, which is why I started blogging in the first place. But I genuinely felt alone that day. It was hard because it occurred so early in my shift and lasted for much longer than the standard panic attack. I was just scared, genuinely. Of course, I could've told my manager, but I just wanted to let it fade away on its own. And even today (Monday, just one day after this happened), I woke up feeling physically anxious. But again, I know that I have life to live. I have responsibilities, I have goals. And I've worked too hard this semester to let my anxiety tear me up right now. So even if I have to struggle silently, I know that I am still capable of pushing through it and finding my happiness again. Even if it'll take a few days.
Thank you for reading, friends. Let me know if you've gone through something similar!