M & M's and Rainbows

M & M's and Rainbows

I have been having a hard time trying to force myself to blog about either my personal life or technology. And here I am going to write another draft probably never to be published.

Yeah, the last year and a quarter I have been trying to write about certain experiences that I have gone through. Some of them have been based on technology but really a lot of them have been about a new skill that keeps me up at night. Anxiety.

I had my first panic attack last year. It's a great experience. I don't recommend anyone seeking the adrenaline rush.

Originally I thought it was just a fluke. That was until I kept having them which resulted in me going to the ER. (Come to find out that happens a lot with first time buyers). This also happened around the time that the company I worked for went under. Well, really, I didn't start panicking until I had already landed a different job.

I still remember what happened pretty clearly. Talking on the phone with my girlfriend, I started to feel sick without warning. I tell her that I need to go, and then I sit on the toilet shaking my little booty off while my body left little M&M's and firehosed rainbows. It wasn't a pretty picture, I nearly passed out. (Also common signs of a first time buyer)

Luckily, that only happened once. After that, everything was fine. All the following episodes I felt like my chest was collapsing in on itself. I still had the shakes and I believed that due to my panicking, I would die from a heart attack.

Over the course of the year, my anxiety evolved from focusing on what was happening at the given time - dizziness, hard breathing, focused on my extremely fast and hard heart beat - to focusing on things that are out of my control.

"What if I stop breathing while I am asleep?"

This caused a lot of sleepless nights just because I couldn't fall asleep longer than a minute before I would jerk awake to ensure that I was still breathing.

I read countless blogs about what to do during one of these to try to help myself recover quickly if I felt one coming on. Often times I saw that there were a lot of young adults asking the same questions I had. A lot of the answers said mindfulness meditation would do the trick. I also tried breathing techniques, but often felt like these made me even more light headed. None of these things worked for me.

I found that if I wrote down what I was feeling when an episode came on it helped a little bit more than sitting in yoga stance 43 while my brain is having an atomic meltdown. The action of writing down what I was feeling and trying to explain why I was feeling that way seemed to ground me.

Skip forward to tonight... Obviously I am not entirely over the panic attack hype. Compared to a year ago, I have been doing a lot better and getting a lot more sleep... Except now I have a newborn and so I guess that means instead of my anxiety being about myself, it is more about him. Maybe that is a good thing?

Either way, I've learned a lot about my mind. I think the thing that scared me the most was that just a week before my first panic attack I was fine. The week after I would spend at least half the year trying to recover. I understand what people mean when they say, "You can't just snap out of it" (Referencing something someone once said to a depressed person). I tried as hard as I could to will myself to just get over it and understand that what I am thinking was irrational. Your body is freaking out while your mind is on high alert saying, "There is something wrong with your body!" And for a while I had a hard time trusting my own body. I didn't know if I should actually be concerned about my heart or if it was just another panic attack.

If you have been dealing with panic attacks, the one thing I can say is that trust that it will get better. I can now say it will. Maybe not the sleepless nights... But look at how much free time I have now!