Boulder in the Path
Hello beautiful internet friends,
Sorry it’s been a while! Life has been incredibly hectic recently, so I thought it was about time I finally get back into the blogging world. I’m now enjoying the final week of mid year holidays before I go back to uni on Monday…
So much has happened since I last wrote! I finished all of my uni assessment and classes for semester 1 of my 2nd year (which was a lot of work and stress), performed in CATS the musical with Harvest Rain Theatre Company (which involved basically living at the theatre 24/7 for a week - and I’ll probably eventually write a post about the experience), and then I went on a Christian camp for uni students which was so much fun.
So basically I want to fill you in on something that has been a new addition to my life this year that is not so pleasant: anxiety and panic attacks.
I have a family history of anxiety disorder, with my grandfather, mother and sister all struggling with it from time to time. It’s still so new to me though, as I was never really exposed to the experiences and worries of my relatives. Along with that initially came the worry that I didn’t know a lot about anxiety or panic attacks and didn’t really understand it until having a panic attack myself. I feared that I was just oversensitive or overreacting to things and that if I told people how I felt, they’d just think that I’m seeking attention. These thoughts made my anxiety worse and bubbled up to a second panic attack.
If you don’t know what a panic attack is like, in my experience, I couldn’t stop fixating on something I was upset about (which involved a lot of negative thoughts and assumptions), and I started crying uncontrollably and hyperventilating. These symptoms alone really scared me and that probably made it worse as well. A lecturer I had once briefly spoke about panic attacks and they said that when people have one or think they are going to, they panic more and it’s like a never-ending cycle. I completely agree with that. Once you’re in that headspace, it’s hard to get out of it.
The few days after my second panic attack were quite difficult. I felt like I was almost constantly on edge, worrying that I was going to have another panic attack, which of course made me feel worse. That feeling of anxiety rises every now and then but I try to distract myself, take some time out, or just focus on breathing. Even at the camp I was at last week, there were so many people and I became a bit overwhelmed and just needed some time by myself. On that train of thought - I think that it's ok to feel sad every now and then. No feelings can be invalidated because it's natural to feel feelings. That's why they exist.
Backtrack: After my first panic attack, I told one of my friends and promised her (and myself) that I would seek help if I had a second one. So I stuck to that promise and told my Mum, sister and my close friend group that night. Everyone has been so helpful and supportive. My Mum taught me some coping strategies and my sister surprised me with a box of goodies and joy of things to lift my mood and they have both given me so much advice. I am so blessed that I have people close to me that understand what I’m going through and can help me cope. I have since seen a GP and have been referred to a psychologist just to learn some coping strategies if I feel a panic attack coming on.
Anyway, back to the point - anxiety is not something that kills you and you are not alone. There are also worse things that can happen to you. There is treatment available and although it’s scary to take the leap of getting help, it’s worth it, even just for the sanity of knowing that you know how to cope. My Mum also told me that although it’s a struggle to go through, you may be able to help someone else. You may be seen as a ‘perfect, happy person’ to others and them seeing that you aren’t perfect and you are a broken human, can be reassuring to others to know that they don’t have to be perfect either.
If you have anxiety yourself, please talk to someone about it. It doesn't do any good bubbling up inside you. If you're worried that you're parents, friends or partner wouldn't understand - firstly, you never know until you talk to them about it, and secondly, you can talk to a GP, psychologist, counsellor, pastor or anyone you trust. Just try to stay positive and if you’re a Christian like me, remember to turn to God. He’s always there for you, no matter what. I've always found Joshua 1:9 helps me through any scary situations - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the your God will be with you wherever you go."
I kind of look at my anxiety as a boulder in the path. It's challenging to get past but I will learn so much and be stronger because of it.
Big bear hugs to you all!