So I get anxiety attacks. They were a later in life development. In my youth, I was pretty reckless and invincible, kinda like those Spring Breakers we’re all watching on TV. Life threw some curve balls at me and one day I had to go for an MRI on my hip. I couldn’t do it.
I mean no way was I letting my body go in that tube and every time the tech tried I freaked out. We tried putting something over my eyes. He tried standing next to me while another tech eased me in. We tried only going half way. No way Jose, my mind wasn’t having it. My pulse raced, my heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest and I felt my body ready to freak out. Eventually we quit and I had to get a sedative prescribed and have someone go with me to a new appointment so they could drive me home after. For one who doesn’t like to ask for things from others I was a little embarrassed and more than a little annoyed with my mind betraying me like this.
I’m a fight person when it comes to the ‘fight or flight’ question which is why this reaction was so baffling for me. In fact, as a kid I used to love small spaces and the cozy cave like feeling being in them. Not any more. After the MRI incident it was like something triggered in me. Sometimes these attacks come out of nowhere. I’ve even passed out a couple times, once outside of a Nordstroms. I had never passed out until this started happening to me. I didn’t think people or women who passed out were weak but I just thought that wasn’t me. I was wrong.
My anxiety got so bad I could almost barely fly anymore. The idea of the those doors sealing me into a metal capsule would send my pulse racing. To this day to fly I have to take some homeopathic calming things to help and then I also do a whole lot of internal meditative/breathing exercises to chill my mind out. I can’t stress how much before this anxiety issue I traveled all over the world without a care for so long.
The human body is a wonder and I can’t explain why it reacts the way it does. I feel some of it is mortality. I’m old enough to look back on some of the things I survived and think whew that was really crazy. Then also knowing I have big responsibilities in the way of my kids the fear anxiety triggers sometimes dictates over good sense. All of it is unsettling.
I know this much I can’t live in a bubble. If nothing else, this quarantine has taught me it’s better to live, even with some risk, than hide in fear. Not saying you should ignore the quarantine because you shouldn’t but don’t be afraid when this is all over. Live your life. There’s no protecting from every demon our minds can create or that really exists out there.
Coping exercises and remedies exist and some have been really helpful for me. One of the best coping tools for me is imagination, getting lost in a story whether one I’m writing or one I’m reading. Unhitching my brain from the present helps calm my body.
So if you’re feeling unsettled dive into an imaginary world, the less heady the better. And don’t worry if you have no creative juices right now, read, read read. Fiction is the ultimate drug of release.