Today I beat my anxiety. I felt that coil in the bottom of my stomach, that very beginning of a churn, the first click on the roller coaster, and I shoved it down deep inside of me again.
Yesterday, the clicks whirred several times before I was able to stop it. Tuesday, I stared down the first hill of that coaster track and as it does, the coaster tipped, slowly, every slowly, over the edge of the hill, and came racing down. You can't control it once it gets too far over that ledge. It speeds up and keeps going, hill after hill, turn after twisty turn. Sometimes it even flips me upside down.
The worst part is that sometimes it's so unpredictable, I don't even know what I'm responding to. Tuesday I was looking at Mapquest at work and seeing how far down Highway 1 goes in California. I followed it down further and further, 'til it hit the tip of the Baja peninsula in Mexico, surrounded by water. My mind started retracting back and my head started spinning, thinking about looking at the Earth from that far away.
I knew looking at pictures or videos of space or views from a great height was a trigger, but I didn't think just looking at a flat, non-3D map would do it.
I can't even think about getting on a plane some days. That triggers it. If I get a dizzy spell, it sometimes triggers it. Intense dramas trigger it.
A lot of things trigger it and it's amazing how quickly the downward spiral progresses. It's overwhelming sometimes to feel that churning and try to swing myself out of it.
Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath, get up, and move around. Tuesday wasn't quite that easy. I, of course, had to click off what I was looking at. I took some breaths. I desperately tried to keep my mind out of that black hole of anxiety.
It's been nearly two years since my anxiety began. Six months after it happened, my husband and stepdaughter were baptized and made full communion in the Catholic church. It was warm in the church and the incense was cloying, per usual. I started feeling stuffy and slightly overheated and the anxiety attack got into full swing. I was trying hard to breathe, but all my mind could think about was what would happen if a gunman came into the church and started shooting. My stepdaughter and Mom are across the aisle, my Dad and Rick are several pews in front of me, and two siblings and their families were sitting clear up at the front. I couldn't get to all of them. How could I get to them before the gunman did?
This is what anxiety does. It tricks your mind into thinking about the worst case scenarios of everything and questioning how you will make it through. Sometimes, when it's extra bad, you are paralyzed with fear, you can't breathe, your stomach churns, and in those moments, you truly believe that you are going to die. You just know it. Your teeth clench and your fingers lock, just waiting for oblivion.
At its worst, I sat in our tub full of the hottest water I could stand, with the hottest water pelting down on me. I would beg my husband to go to bed at the same time as me because I didn't want to try to fall asleep without him there. The boogeyman in my head would lie to me and fill it with the scariest thoughts.
My anxiety desperately tries to control me. It wages a war in my body and my mind every. single. day.
But today, I beat it. I'll take today.