A blogpost I wrote regarding my experience with anxiety.
I’m writing this as I listen to a mentally ill youth scream profanities as our fire alarm goes off. I listen carefully to make sure the youth is just angry and hasn’t set the building on fire. We try hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Our staff is fantastic and well trained…they keep those of us who haven’t had the same training, very safe.
I know I’m safe right now, but you wouldn’t know it from my heart rate.
If you’ve had anxiety for a long time, it’s helpful to have an arsenal of self-care modifications in place to utilize at any time. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 40’s, but the things that help me are deep breathing (I just remembered to do this as I wrote it – I was holding my breath), …
(the youth is now in the bathroom, still yelling, doing what sounds like emptying the soap dispenser)
…self talk (I am safe. I will be ok. I trust my coworkers to take care of the situation.), and remember that this is a temporary situation and will end at some point.
Earlier today my boss put the blinds down in my office and locked me in. My office is right by one of the side doors to our building. A different youth broke the door this morning while trying to enter while we were on lockdown, and we didn’t want him to notice the window while he was in that state of angry.
The youth in the hallway has become quiet. My coworkers are soothing and calm, murmuring, and moving slowly. We model behavior for our child. They don’t realize it, but we may be the only adults they’ve ever spent time with that are calm and kind, even in the face of a screaming meltdown. I appreciate our staff more than they’ll ever know.
Having an invisible disability makes you appreciate the fact that these gentle, caring places exist. I could have been in a situation like this. My kids could have been in a place like this. Why didn’t we end up here? We could pass. We could be quietly anxious, without acting out our fears and emotions on people and objects OR most of all, we had/have supportive, loving families and friends that did everything they could to make sure we knew we knew we were loved and supported. We could also “handle” school and society without scaring anyone, or breaking the law. I know I’ve had my moments where I could foresee that happening to my kids or me…but I feel blessed that we made it through every tough moment together.
Not everyone is that lucky. We are privileged, maybe.
What I do know is that as I sit here and think about anxiety, it is telling me to run…that I’m old and ugly, that I’m a coward and any other number of lies that I am managing. I have been managing since I was very, very young. I haven’t always had the arsenal of tools that I do now. It’s taken me decades to get to the point where I can talk myself through an anxiety attack. I have the superpower to be feeling panic while carrying on a conversation. If I’m at home, if I the kids are taken care of I can take a “nap” (fall apart quietly in my room), and my husband can hold my hand and say calm, quiet, soothing things until my heartbeat slows and my tears subside – until I stop hyperventilating if it’s a bad one.
My heart rate is just about down where it should be. The surge of adrenaline will make me exhausted later, but I feel proud that I’ve taken care of myself again.
Anxiety lies. I am safe.