We might not think of ourselves as “strong people,” but we are. In fact, it’s our ability to hold so much together at once which can trigger these attacks.
I used to suffer from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks when I was younger. Maybe it was the pressure of attending college at the age of 16, or maybe it was due a hundred other things that I was responsible for doing. Either way, I managed to get a hold of my anxiety when I reached my late 20’s – or so I thought.
After about five years of seldom having an anxiety attack rear its ugly head, I went through an uncomfortable and exhaustive episode last week. Which led me to ask, “why the heck is this happening NOW?”
Well, it turns out that people who carry too much around with them, tend to be prone to anxiety attacks.
What that means is those people who sign up to do WAY too much stuff, and who don’t take care of their mental well-being, are going to have a rough time moving forward. Whether it’s a workload that keeps piling up (and you keep agreeing to add more), or helping others deal with their emotional stressors while completely ignoring your own, you are contributing to your anxiety levels.
People who do-do-do and go-go-go, without taking time for themselves to de-stress and relax, are eventually going to snap. For some, snapping can be a barrage of angry words, and for others like myself, snapping means having an exhaustive panic attack in the midst of a crowd when you are NOT prepared for it.
See, what happened in my situation was something I know others have experienced, and the empath in me feels terrible about that. Because it was awful. It was embarrassing. It was uncontrollable. And worst of all, it was in a crowded doctors office in a foreign country with everyone staring at the crazy lady who couldn’t stop shaking or crying, and couldn’t explain why she was going through it. My husband was there, but he doesn’t have much experience with this sort of thing (as he’s never seen me have an attack before) and his words, though well-intentioned, did not help the situation.
It’s not worry, and it’s not really fear. What triggered that panic attack at that moment was the realization that I am doing too much. And there’s not much you can do at that point when everything hits you. When everything you have been holding onto and carrying around finally breaks you.
However, there are a few things you can do to prevent stress-related anxiety attacks from taking control of your life and surprising you like they did to me.
A good friend of mine gave me some excellent advice that I have put into practice: make a schedule. Of course, be realistic with it. Don’t try and fill a days worth of work into 3 hours because you will only be exacerbating the problem. Rather, accept that you are human and you have limits.
Yes, you are a strong person who has been through a lot and will surely be able to get through a lot more in life. But life isn’t meant to “get through,” it’s meant to be lived. Take care of your mental health. Give yourself time to relax and TRY to put some things on hold. Life is way too short, and keeping busy is great but don’t forget to slow down once in a while.
By Raven Fon