Anxiety and panic attacks are nothing to be ashamed of.
I have them. I have friends who have them. Lots of people experience anxiety and feelings of panic.
It does not mean there is something wrong with you or you are broken. It’s simply who you are. And that, my friend, should be celebrated.
My earliest memory of a panic attack was in the backseat of my parent’s car. I remember thinking about dying and death and my whole body froze. I felt all sweaty and my stomach was churning like crazy. It was hard to breathe. But I couldn’t say anything to my parents because they would just say ‘Oh don’t be silly’ like they always said to me when I tried to talk about my feelings.
They would get worse during different times of my life but again, I could never talk about them. Oh my god….during my separation when all the shit hit the fan, I would wake up nightly panicked. I’d ‘mantra’ myself back to sleep with ‘you’re okay, you’re okay’. I started getting major reflux and I lost 13 lbs! But still, I didn’t talk about it. Maybe people would think I was weird and like my parents said, I had no right to feel worried about anything. Other people had it worse. Maybe I’m just being soft?
When I hear other people talk about their symptoms though I always thought, ‘well that’s not like mine so maybe I don’t have anxiety’. My friend had such panic attacks that she couldn’t walk or drive over a bridge! Mine never looked like that so I just thought I didn’t have them.
Now, though, with all this wonderful dialogue out there about anxiety and panic attacks, I can say…..Yes. I get anxiety attacks. Waking up in the middle of the night panicked about my kids, heart racing, not being able to breath…that’s how my panic attack presents itself. I also literally can get paralyzed in different situations. Driving in the snow will trigger one for sure. I will literally not be able to make a decision or move on anything. All I want to do is curl up on the couch and sleep. That’s how mine shows up.
People think because of what I do for a living that I’m extroverted and don’t suffer from social anxiety. False. Yes, I am extroverted but I can also be quite introverted. Ask any of my friends who try to get me to come out at night. Nope. I’m staying put. At a party with people I don’t know, you’ll find me awkwardly standing at the back waiting for people to come to talk to me. Sometimes I literally have to give myself a HUGE pep talk before I go anywhere. So yes, I can get in front of a room and teach a fitness class and be all goofy but that’s because that is my safe place. It always has been. That’s where I feel my most authentic and that’s where I can hide. Also, I’m a big believer in ‘fake it till you make it’. Meaning, I will put on a big ol’ confident persona and do things others would never, but believe me when I say, I am faking it half the time:)
Here’s the thing though…..it’s okay. I have anxiety and I’m okay with. To me, I look at my anxiety like a wound that needs some attention. Someone once said (Tara Brach or Tara Mohr, I think) ‘there’s wisdom in your anxiety’. So that’s how I look at it. When I have anxiety I think, what part of me requires a little extra TLC? What wound is calling for attention.
I suffered trauma in my young life. My parents divorced when I was 4. My mother kept me and my biological dad took my older sisters (who were 8 & 9) up North to live. And then I never saw them again until my teens. I wasn’t allowed to talk about them or tell people I had sisters. Was never allowed to ask about my biological dad or talk about anything to do with the divorce. Let’s just say I never had an easy childhood. Trauma.
Not telling you this for sympathy, but generally, where there’s trauma, there are wounds. And where there are wounds, there is generally anxiety.
So, now I feel almost blessed to have anxiety and panic attacks because it directs me to the places I need to look at. And that keeps me evolving as a human being. It keeps me learning.
My message with this post is……
Celebrate your anxiety. It’s time to look at your anxiety as just part of your charm:) You are not broken. Anxiety is part of you and you are AWESOME! Every single part of you.