One Year Since Anxiety Struck & What I Have Learned

I can’t believe it has been one year!

I must say, when I think of ‘365 days’ it seems quite overwhelming; but, the beauty is that I didn’t think like that while getting to this point, I honestly took it one day at a time.  And here I find myself, one year later, better.

The past year has definitely been a work in progress.  And while I am not 100% yet, I feel so much better than I did back when it first happened.  There were struggles, yes, but they were all tests of how far I have come and grown.  The beauty of it all was that I learned to control my anxiety so that if I felt an attack come on, I could just calm myself and nip it in the bud.

One of my hardest times dealing with anxiety during the past year, I must admit, was last week.

Being Your Own Worst Enemy
To be honest, I have been living anxiety-free for a couple of weeks, actually, and it wasn’t until last week, when I realized that my ‘one year’ was coming up, that I started to panic.  I kept thinking believing that the attack was going to anniversary itself.  It was as if the world was going to end and I, only I, knew it.  It just built this giant fear inside of me and I knew I was being overtaken by it.

While on my way home last Thursday, I almost lost it on the train again.  My mentality and way of thinking was “This is too good to be true, I have been able to fight the anxiety for almost a year and it is just going to come back and slap me in the face, I know it.”  So, naturally, thinking like this had me a bit paranoid for the whole week because I was just waiting for it to happen.  It was as if I wanted it to be a one-year anniversary.  But that was the thing: why was I waiting for it again?  Why was I putting myself in this prison that it will happen again?  Because if we think like that then, chances are, you will find yourself making it happen… again.

And that was the situation I was putting myself into.

Last Thursday on the train I started to feel my body start to close up, my breath was losing itself, and my mind was jumping to the worst case scenario.  I did everything I could to try to get it out of my mind: I went onto Instagram, and when the train lost cellular service, I went into an app to play a game.  I even put on my headphones and turned on some loud music.  While I was giving myself all of these distractions, it was doing just that: distracting me.

I ended up listening to myself, trying to breathe from my belly, and concentrated on asking myself why I was afraid; that helped. When I got off of the train, I was relieved that I didn’t have a big attack, but was now in a stage of recovery.  I just wanted to go home and be safe.  Sounds familiar, right?

The next day (Friday), I woke up, got dressed, and walked out the door (I was on my way to work).  When I reached outside I just froze.  Something came over me that scared me.  I stopped, analyzed myself and said “No way, I can’t do this” and went right back up to my apartment.  I lay down on the couch and started to cry. Why was this happening to me?  I disliked it so much.  I  began to pray. I just didn’t want to revert  back to where I was a year ago.

My inner self was asking to cry, so I let myself cry.  Something was causing me such turmoil.  I ended up running out of tears (cried for a few minutes) and then realized that this was silly.

Staying in your safe zone is good for when things start to happen.  But after a year of trying to be better than it, I was not going to let it be better than me.  So I got up, texted my boss that I was running late, and took it easy.  Yes, I had things at work that needed to get done that morning, but I needed to take care of myself first.  Can’t have output if you don’t have a productive person, right?

You’re Better Than It
I grabbed my keys, put my shoes back on, and walked out that door.  I took the stairs one flight down (avoiding the elevator), stopped, and then said “No, I’m not afraid of the elevator that has transported me within this building for almost two years, I’m better than this” and then proceeded to take the elevator to the lobby.  I walked outside and just stood there.  I whipped out my phone and quickly googled “help I’m having a panic attack” and came across this article that helped me overcome it.  I needed someone to walk me through it, because when you’re in this situation (and a strong one like the one I felt coming on), you need a reminder when you yourself can’t do it.  I read the article and it helped.  I accepted what was happening, put away all of the distractions and just let my breath go.  It was the first time I read a step-by-step guide and I’m glad I did.

I proceeded to then get on the train, still a little nerve-wrecked, and went on with my day.  I sat at my desk and tried to understand what the turmoil was.  And then it dawned on me.  I was afraid of the future and what it held for me.  Whether it be at work, or at home, I just didn’t like living in a stage of ‘limbo’: anticipating something, not knowing when it would happen, and living at the mercy of the ‘what if’s’.  I cried some more at the office and slowly started to bring myself back to what I learned this past year: be in the present, trust that things will fall in place, don’t drive yourself crazy to understand the future and plan it all out now, and to appreciate your life, that you should take things easy and not let things take over you.  In the end, you have control over your life.  No one is timing you with a stop watch.  No one is calling the shots.  Only you, and you alone, put restrictions on yourself.  So if you don’t want them, then don’t make them!

The following day (Saturday) I had a 4-mile race in Central Park that I was nervous about because I had a rough past couple of days.  I kept thinking “Maybe it will hit today!”  But, I got up in the morning, didn’t make any excuses, jumped on that train, and went to my race.  I had to live in the moment, if there was a fear, then fine, come at me.  I didn’t try to push it out.  I just had to ride the wave. And I did just that.  I accepted what was happening and rode along.

You Have Control – Practice It
I woke up the following days feeling a little better than the previous ones and just kept reminding myself that it’s all part of growing. Is it scary?  Sure it is.  Is it impossible?  Not at all.

Practicing your belly breathing is very important and helpful, too.  This is something that has helped me a lot.  And, the more you practice this, the more you get stronger and can be in control when you feel a panic attack coming on.  It’s just crazy to think how much I have grown and learned about myself this past year.  Not only that, but I have learned more of how I want my life to be like. And I count this struggle that I, and perhaps some of you reading this, have as a disguised blessing; because it’s at this point in our lives that we are being challenged because something greater is going to happen and we need to be ready for it.  It’s all part of being prepared for what the universe has in store for us.  What is it?  I don’t know.  But I’m not going to stress out about it.  I trust in it.

A year ago, I was not as strong and as confident as I am today.  And it’s okay!  If it weren’t for that panic attack, I may have still have been where I was- lost.  But today I love myself.  I love who I am and what I keep learning.  And it’s a beautiful aspect of life: to fall, learn to get back up, and balance.  And if you fall again, just learn what may have made you fall, and try it again.  The difference is that you now have experience and now have a stronger you :).

Summer 2013:
Summer 2014:

All your days won’t be easy, nor will they all be rough.  Be happy with what you’ve accomplished thus far, continue to progress, be easy on yourself, ride the wave, and breathe.  There is another tomorrow. But for the sake of life, enjoy the today.  Let tomorrow come as it pleases.

Namaste 🙂