When anxiety gets a grip on you it becomes very difficult to reason with the impending doom that feels like you have no choice to think about and feel in response to it. Lately I have been experiencing perhaps one of the worst bouts of anxiety I have had in a very long time. So much so that I am not always containing my anxious thoughts and feelings – and find myself acting on them in retrospectively and admittedly, extreme ways.
Last week my partner didn’t answer the phone. She stopped texting me and through a certain method of steps I took to analyse the situation I became convinced she was dead. So convinced was I that I managed to convince the ambulance service to dispatch an ambulance to her address because it was too late and I lived too far away to get there in time, you know, just incase she was on the brink of death rather than dead. She finally responded, all of 2 hours later to tell me she had fallen asleep. Of course, that makes complete sense. I cancelled the ambulance. Unfortunately, they didn’t receive the message to the vehicle and wound up arriving at her house. The guilt of having used and called an ambulance, perhaps away from another emergency ate me up for days of guilt.
At the time though, there was no reasoning. I was convinced. For the following days I kept getting the thought that she was dead or dying, and needed me – but I was unable to contact her. After a few days of “I’m fine” texts, I have realised this is an irrational anxiety thought so have stopped responding to it. Which means it has gone where? I’m not certain. I think a lot of it I am suppressing, whilst trying to ride out the smallest of the waves of emotion that are coming up for me lately as, I presume, a side effect of the stress I am currently experiencing.
The anxiety has returned to focus on myself since then. I keep getting extremely anxious that people around me are talking about me, laughing at me and judging me to be a walking disgrace. I pretty much scarpered out of uni today as soon as I could in order to escape the lecture room full of people talking about and laughing at me. I thought it was just uni maybe. Maybe I had done something weird and not realised. However, it followed me all the way home to my room where I tried to relax and calm down from the ordeal of having to go out in public when I felt this way.
Cue the weekly fire drill. Normally I am able to ignore the alarm as it sirens throughout the building and my room. It goes off frequently, due to drills and I assume, the bad cooking of my neighbours. Normally I sit through it and it passes. Today though, the siren was piercing and I snapped. I entered into a panic attack of tears running through the building begging them to turn it off. The whole day I had been avoiding using medication to calm myself, but at that point I succumbed to the ease of popping a pill to calm myself down.
I know that lately my baseline is significantly raised due to stress. However, for as many DBT skills that I use I just can’t seem to get it under control. I have the insight. I know what is happening. Some mental health professionals equate this insight into the ability to control it. No, not at all, and to be honest, I am out of answers for dealing with this right now.
I spoke to my care coordinator about it on Friday, but her advice was to accept the emotion is happening and let it run it’s course. I thought I had been doing this already – but I suppose not because my response behaviours are still getting the better of me. I wonder if anyone has mastered their anxiety better than I have mine, what they would say to me about managing it?
How can I not let it get the better of me? How can I realise my response behaviour is not fitting to the situation? How do I reality check without reality checking with my anxious thoughts as a reality? How do I avoid a panic attack without having to take a benzo – because we all know relying on benzos isn’t the answer. Additionally, it is very easy when in a real state of anxiety/panic/upset to take too many because they take a while to kick in and wind up overmedicating.
I don’t know the answers. If you don’t know the answers, but still have suggestions that would be helpful too.