I just couldn’t catch my breath.
I needed 1 good breath to regain my composure, and I couldn’t do it.
I tried really hard. My attempts looked like a 2 year old child being taught how to blow out birthday candles for the first time. In my mind I was saying, just breath… take a deep breath…” The more I tried the shallower and more rapid my breaths became. So many things were running through my mind. I tried to say a prayer, but I was interrupted.
She said, listen… you’re going to make your self pass out! Stop and take a breath! She was the intake nurse at the ER and she was trying to ask me some important questions. I tried to answer. I was really trying. But I was hurting, vomiting, and apparently having a serious panic attack.
I managed to get that prayer out. And it was a good thing I did, because after I got myself together, the first thing I wanted to do was punch that nurse in the face. I was in serious pain, felt like a complete idiot for not being able to breathe, and she was yelling at me- saying breathe, as if I was intentionally skipping the very thing I need to do to stay alive.
That was about 10 years ago, and just 1 of many other trips to the ER. I was officially diagnosed with anxiety something or another that was induced by a separate undiagnosed illness. At that point I was 4 years into a battle with kidney disease, while also battling something that had no name, no known cause, and no clear treatment plan. I was like: sure, add anxiety to the list. I can handle it.
Anxiety has been an issue for me since childhood. I’m told it’s a side effect of being raised in a household with 2 active drug abusers. All I know is whenever I am in a position I can’t control, feel major fear of any kind, and get overwhelmed by too much at one time, I feel really, really anxious and have a hard time catching my breath.
*I choose not to take any pills for it, and I think I would drive a therapist crazy about it. I’ve also mastered the whole breath like you’re blowing out candles, thing. However, I still experience moments of anxiousness and when I do, here’s what I do…
HOW TO FEEL LESS ANXIOUS
Stick to the facts. Anxiety is often a reaction to uncertainty. When we are uncertain, there is a tendency to make up stuff to fill in the blanks. That stuff is usually worrisome, fear-filled, and angst worthy, stuff. We force our minds to experience all of these negative things that may or may not happen. Instead of making stuff up, just stick to the facts. Deal with what’s right in front of you at the moment.
Distract yourself with what you can do. We are most anxious about the things we can do nothing about. I bet if you take a moment to breathe (if you can…I’m not yelling at you or anything) you will find that there are some things that you can do. Do those things. Regain as much control as you can, and find solace in the fact that you’ve done your part. Face what you can’t change. Fix what you can.
Let go of what you are having trouble holding on to, anyway. I have learned that if I can’t control it, it’s already out of my hands. Letting go is a good thing. All of that wasted energy can be restored. Ask for help. Say a prayer. Give your worry, fear, uncertainty, and anxiety to God. Take a breath (when you can) and move on.
*If you are taking pills for your anxiety or seeing a therapist, keep it up. Make sure you stick to what works for you. I have shared what has worked for me to let you know you are not alone, give you more things you can do when you feel anxious, and to encourage those who have not yet asked for help to ask without shame.