It starts with a hollow, sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s like nerves before a job interview, but magnified. My brow furrows and I start taking shorter breaths, through my nose. I am normally a mouth breather, but breathing through my mouth at this point makes the hollow feeling worse. Every now and then I run out of air, so I take a big breath in through my mouth and let it out long, slow and loud.
I start to feel a little light headed and sometimes shaky. My brain fogs over a little, thoughts swimming around, the same thoughts over and over, but delivered differently or from another angle each time. Sometimes I start having internal disagreements with myself. Part of me fretting and over analyzing, the other part putting myself down, telling me not to be so stupid, basically making me feel worse.
Time slows down. Seconds drag by slowly. I might look at the clock four times before a minute passes by. Most of the time I dont register that I’ve looked at the clock, almost like it’s a nervous tick. My desire to get away from my current surroundings increases, which makes me feel trapped, almost claustrophobic.
Often my skin gets itchy. Sometimes it doesn’t, but I scratch it anyway. The scratch provides a physical pain, much easier to process. I hunch over and sit rigidly, but fidgety. I become an oxymoron as I sit there twitching, rubbing my fingernails together, scratching, but also sitting as still as possible. I feel safer rigid, hunched low, arms as close to my body as possible. I might shake my legs, like they’re resting on a nerve, but I still try to stay as still as possible.
I’m distracted. I try to continue on with what I’m doing, but often find myself staring out the window with no recollection of the last 5 minutes. I try to focus on the task at hand, but it takes longer than it should because I have to keep stopping to think about what’s triggered my anxiety and also to squeeze my hands together. Squeezing them together seems to calm me temporarily. I’m not sure why.
This happened to me yesterday. I made a simple decision, with no consequences whatsoever, but for some reason my anxiety thought otherwise. I spent quite a long time stressing about what a terrible thing I’d done, when the reality was, I hadn’t done anything worth giving a second thought to. I tortured myself for a while, before I remembered my 5 calming techniques. I took my own advice, slowed down, and managed to avoid spiraling into a panic. That’s a win in my books and next time I intend to take my own advice sooner.
Smiles and Sunshine