As mentioned in previous blogs, I live with chronic anxiety. My psychiatrist does not believe I have an anxiety disorder but rather says I experience high levels of anxiety on a long-term basis. For the past 16 hours I have been having an anxiety attack, my first in many months.
I have been vocal with what its like to live with mental illness but a thought occurred to me earlier: Why not write a blog while I experience this anxiety attack inside of waiting until it's over and recollecting what it felt like? I am not writing this blog as a form of therapy but rather using it as a tool to give you an inside look at what it feels like to have an anxiety attack during its most intense moments.
I woke up this morning after a late night out with a friend of mine as we recollected how successful yet stressful our weeks were. As soon as I woke up I began to feel nervous. I was meeting up with somebody from an online dating site which made me feel on edge. The person and I have had nice long chats over the past few weeks and can hold a conversation. Though it's normal to feel nervous when meeting up with somebody you think you'll like, the degree of nervousness I was feeling was not normal.
En route I began to sweat like crazy, then I got into traffic and started thinking "Oh my gosh I'm going to be late and if I'm late I'll never get to meet him and he'll think I stood him up and then he'll probably go onto the dating site and tell everybody I stand people up and I'll never go out with anybody again." It turned out I was 10 minutes early.
We chatted for a couple of hours, but I continued to sweat throughout. My heart was racing and my stomach was aching to the point I thought I was going to vomit. The meeting ended but my anxiety continued: "What happens if he didn't like me? Was my sweating too noticeable? Did I talk too much? Did I seem interested in him? What happens if I acted like I wasn't interested in him even though I am? I hope he likes me!"
I went to the mall and I couldn't find a parking spot. My sweating continued and my heart felt like it was about to come out of my chest. I wanted to cry, I just felt so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of cars and the amount of emotion that had overcome me. Sure enough I found a parking spot but quickly ran into a new challenge. I had to use the bathroom albeit not badly.
However, the anxiety took over again. When you have anxiety, I didn't know this mall very well and I really began to sweat as I struggled to find the bathroom. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes began to feel like hours. I successfully found the bathroom after looking at the mall directory and asking the information desk.
On my way home I stopped by my employer to pick up some dinner. The store was extremely busy and I got overwhelmed as I battled the crowd. Crowds overwhelm me. As I tried to make my way through I began to sweat again, my legs felt like jelly, I got really nauseous and I had the sudden urge to use the bathroom again. Luckily I made it out of the store in one piece and without any accidents.
But for the rest of the evening I have continued to feel anxious and I don't know why. Sure, I'm curious how the other person feels about how our meeting turned out yet I'm also OK if he doesn't want to meet up again. But I have been pacing around my apartment. I feel emotional and I want to cry yet I don't know why. Finances could be better but they're not entirely bad either. I'm loving my job more then ever. My life in general is great, sure there's always room for improvement but I can't complain. Then why am I feeling so nervous and anxious?
This is a question I can't answer nor can any healthcare professional. It is because this is how I feel when my mental illness tries to take control; but I won't let it. While the feelings are intense all I can tell myself is that it will get better, I know it will. It has before and it will again.
Follow Arthur Gallant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ArthurGallant27