Mel Brooks is one of my favorite movie directors and if he could see my life it would be portrayed on screen as a comedy. However, anxiety is not a comedy and has been more like a curse, like a demon I have to battle everyday. Whether it is the panic attacks or my mind spinning out of control I have had to find ways to cope with the unending anxiety. Firstly, if you have the ability to see a doctor and get help, please do so. I have found relief in some of the medication I take but that is not the whole picture. Being diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD sucks. It is a daily struggle, some days are better than others, but with self management techniques you to can survive this. I used to think I was a freak when talking about my personal experiences with anxiety and felt like I was very alone in this…unless you have it, anxiety can be hard to relate to.
I was watching a T.V. show with my husband a couple of weeks ago when a lady came on who I automatically judged to be a military barbie doll but was quickly corrected when I heard her story. She had been in the military for eight long years and she was on this show to combat her own anxiety and PTSD. This caught my interest since I could relate. I watched her as she suffered through the reality show just to tap out before she could complete the competition but what really hit home was her actions during the time she was suffering and the fact that she was strong enough to recognize the issue and get help. The camera filmed her hyper-vigilance to sounds, her constant jumpiness, brain spinning out of control, not be able to give positive self talk, and her insomnia. Her demons were showing. In that moment I felt like a jerk for stereotyping her but even more I felt bad because she was just like me. Her thoughts and triggers are different than mine but the way her body and brain responded was textbook symptoms and that just blew my mind. I realized that my anxiety was not made up or “just in my head”. It is real.
I finally went and got some help when my flashbacks about my ex-husbands truck driving down the road approaching me from the opposite direction would send my heart racing, my hands shaking, my skin would flush, and I would get super jumpy and the fear would always be just under the surface waiting to explode like a volcano. That was all I could think about when those images would flash through my already hyperactive brain randomly without warning. It was horrible. I would tell myself he is over a 1000 miles away and I was safe, there was nothing he could do to hurt me. Still, I couldn’t handle it anymore, the depression was at an all time high, with the anxiety, PTSD, and just trying to handle all the new stressor’s in my life I was at my wits end. I reached out and found some counseling in addition to some medicine, it helped, but did not fix my problem.
I don’t think anything can really fix anxiety but I do believe certain things can subdue it and make it more manageable. I learned how to meditate, probably not the correct way, but found if I focused on the sounds around me and not what was in my head it would help me relax. Listening to the birds chirp with my eyes closed and hearing the wind blow through the tall pine trees was actually very calming. I found that this was the beginning of how I started to learn to control my own mind. It is mine brain, I should control it, not it controlling me.
Music was another choice for me. It doesn’t matter what type you listen too as long as you love it and feel it. I personally am a huge rock fan and love all the older artist like Ozzy, Iron Maiden, ACDC, you get the picture. I found that certain songs reached my soul and when I felt anxious I would put in my ear buds and just rock out. It is a great way to decompress. One of my favorites is from Ozzy and it is called ‘Fire in the Sky’. If you get a chance, here is a link to youtube to listen to the words, it really hits home with me and my journey wading through the waters. Fire in the Sky
I have also learned to breathe, be ever conscious of my muscle tension and try to relax. Long strolls on the coast, looking for agates and ocean treasures really took my mind to a happy place that was restful. I started to feel like a normal person when I began to do these activities.
I will probably always have anxiety but with good coping skills and light medication I can manage my symptoms. Once in awhile when the paranoia kicks in and the craziness of my brain try’s to take over and I have to reflect upon what I’ve learned thus far and make that conscious attempt to help myself. It can be done but is a never ending challenge. Just when I think I have a handle on life, the universe throws me a curve ball and I have to adjust again. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it is in small doses and don’t forget in this crazy world of hustle and bustle to stop, smell the roses, or in this case in Oregon, smell everything because springtime is here and with that comes new life, new hopes and dreams and everything in between.