Living With Anxiety

One of the most difficult things I’ve had to do lately is explaining to friends why I can’t do things or go to places like I used to in 2019 due to anxiety. So, this site has some dust on it and I figured I’d try to explain it in words.

It started in 2020 when I legitimately started to fear getting Covid-19, then it escalated as I’d watch or listen to the news and hear about all of the cases and deaths. Throughout the year, I became more and more paranoid or in my opinion, cautious, where I didn’t want to leave the house if I didn’t have to.

Then one night in early 2020, I was sitting in the recliner and noticed a numbing feeling in my arms. I walked up and down the driveway for a while and eventually, I told my wife that she needed to take me to the urgent care because the feeling wasn’t going away and I didn’t know what was going on.

We sat in the Urgent Care parking lot for at least a half-hour because I was afraid to go into a place that would increase my odds of catching covid. While sitting in the car, I eventually felt normal again and we ended up going back home.

After discussing things with my doctor, it was determined that I had likely experienced an anxiety attack. This was a first for me and it was a scary situation. Since then, I’ve had too many attacks to count. That’s where the .5 MG of Lorazepam comes in handy. It’s basically a sedative that slows my heart rate and allows me to get things back under control.

During the day, I’m constantly struggling to maintain balance and avoid triggering an attack. I feel like I’m on edge all of the time. Sometimes, the attacks happen out of nowhere without a trigger, those are the scariest. This is what it feels like.

My heart rate begins to increase, my breathing becomes more labored or shallow. I feel my body get hot as my blood pressure rises which causes me to start sweating. At this point, I’ve taken the Lorazepam, I’ve got my hoody on and I’m crawled into bed in my safe space listening to the sounds of rushing water as I sing a song to myself or recite the alphabet multiple times. Meanwhile, I go through hot flashes, I sweat, and I try to avoid the thoughts that make me question whether this is the end. Thankfully, I’m still around and none of the attacks have gone that far, but they sure feel like it will.

Avoiding the attacks is all about trying to maintain control of my body, in particular my breathing. The feeling of losing control creates a cascading effect and I hope I never experience a full-blown attack that I can’t recover from without medical attention. A lot of folks who believe they’re having heart attacks are actually experiencing anxiety or panic attacks.

Living this way sucks and I’m not sure how I got myself into this position. Here are some things I’m trying to do to get better.

I have a doctor’s appointment in February and I’m also scheduling an appointment with a behavioral therapist this month. I should have done this last year but I didn’t. I’m trying to eliminate alcohol from my life because I think it’s the crux of the problem. The thing about alcohol is that it acts as a sedative, relaxing me and taking my mind off of things. It’s everything else that comes with it that makes it a problem. Also, I think a few of the attacks I’ve had can be directly linked to alcohol consumption the previous night.

I need to improve my health overall which I think will have a cumulative effect on my well-being. It has gotten to the point where the other day, I attempted to drive to a nearby gas station but ended up having to turn around and go home because of how I was feeling in the car. Any time I feel my heart rate going up or my anxiety levels rising, I immediately want to go to my safe space and calm down.

As you can guess, this has been hell on my wife and a few close friends. My wife and friends want to go out and do things and I’m the one holding everyone back because of what I’m going through. It makes me feel really shitty as a person as I feel that it’s out of my control. But I’m hopeful that isn’t the case as I take steps to try to get back to 2019 me. 2020 Really screwed me up and I’m still paying the price.

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