I woke up this morning thinking about my day yesterday and feeling kind of spent. Yesterday was very challenging as I had to deal with free floating anxiety pretty much on and off all day. It’s funny, sometimes I feel like I’m doing so well with my anxiety recovery and then BAM I get sidetracked with the stupid anxiety and then I’m freaked out again.
Just What Is Free Floating Anxiety?
A lot of people who have generalized anxiety disorder experience free floating anxiety. This is when you feel anxious and uncomfortable and even panicky but you really don’t know why. It feels like it comes out of nowhere and it is very unsettling…
Yesterday my day started off normally. I went to a morning spin class at my gym at 9:30. I do this every Monday so its not anything new or scary. When I got there I felt “off” right away. It was nothing I could put my finger on but it was unnerving.
One of my neighbors was there and we just did a little chit chatting. I felt very awkward and self-conscious talking to her. When the class started I immediately felt trapped and thought Oh shit I’m going to have a panic attack! There were 2 ladies seated on bikes directly behind me and even though I knew better, I could not stop thinking they were watching my every move.
I felt my rising anxiety and discomfort was noticeable to others because I was really fidgety on my bike and kept fixing my hair and adjusting my shirt and fixing my headband and fixing my bike pants, etc. It was weird.
I had to force myself stop moving around and just sit there and ride the damn bike. Then my thoughts went to the bizarre and I felt completely doomed.
The spin class lasts one hour and one of the things I like to do is count the songs. The stereo is played really loud to get you pumped to ride the bikes for that hour. (Counting the songs always seems to make the time go faster for me). Anyhow, it usually takes about 10 – 12 songs to play and then the class is over.
When the first song was playing I thought to myself, there is no way in hell I can sit here for 9 more songs. No. Way…
I imagined how I could leave if I wanted to. I kept picturing myself getting off the bike and wiping it down with the cleaner while everyone was staring a hole through me. Screw it, I thought, I cant do that.
I am stuck here. DAMN IT!!
Now my mind is messing with my sense of balance and equilibrium and I feel like I am going to fall off the bike and just lay there a quivering mess on the floor. I just know any second my muscles are going to give up and I will flop onto the floor.
This is pathetic!!
Maybe I can just get off the bike and run out of the class without cleaning the bike. Maybe they’ll think I have somewhere important to be. But I’m pretty sure if I tried to wipe down the bike I would lose control of my body and fall onto the floor, fully exposed in my shame in front of the entire class.
Can you see how my racing thoughts were seriously messing with me?? Well finally I was able to grab hold of my out of control thinking and try to reign it in.
By the time all this drama had ensued we were only into the 2nd song. I decided to keep all my focus on grounding myself and staying 100% totally focused on riding the bike and the music, nothing else.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, the voice of reason told me all this was anxiety and to try my best not to give in to it or listen to it.
I did manage to finish the class and I was glad I stayed. But the fact that I felt so anxious threw me for a loop. I didn’t leave the class feeling triumphant over anxiety- you know that shout-from-the-mountaintops wonderful feeling you get when you face an anxiety trigger and WIN? Well I didn’t feel like much of a winner.
As I went on with my day I felt the slightest twinge of free floating anxiety somewhere in the back of my thoughts. I didn’t address it, I just pretty much ignored it and went on with my day as per usual, errands, laundry, etc. After I fixed dinner and started on my commute to work, it reared its ugly head again.
I occurred to me as I was driving to work that I was afraid. REALLY AFRAID. Oh my God are you kidding me? I have not had any problems on my new job- not with anxiety. What is going on?
I turned the radio off and again worked on grounding myself. I did my positive affirmations for anxiety and reminded myself that my feelings aren’t facts. I also reminded myself that I could do it afraid.
My commute is only about 14 miles so before I knew it I was at the hospital. There was nothing I could do but go in to work. I felt like I was walking to the electric chair…
As I swiped my badge on the time clock I knew I was trapped there. Now there was no escape. And I knew, I just KNEW that as soon as the first person spoke to me I was going to have a massive panic attack.
Somewhere somehow in the recesses of my brain I had the presence of mind to know that if I had a panic attack I should definitely not try to fight it – I should do the Panic Away “21/7 Technique”. This would make it stop. For sure.
Ok, that felt good. At least I had a plan…
I didn’t have an outright panic attack, but I couldn’t shake the anxiety or the stupid irrational thoughts. I felt awkward and self conscious and twitchy. Again and again I found myself feeling like I was going to fall over. It is such a stupid thought but it scares the living crap out of me. Can you imagine just falling over in your place of work in clear view of everyone??
At one point I was taking care of a patient and my boss came up to me. I was standing at the bedside table at the foot of my patient’s bed -using it to keep me balanced, actually. She put a paper on the table and I had to move over to give her room. She said there was a discrepancy in my last paycheck and I was overpaid.
She asked, Did I notice that I was overpaid? (Um, no Boss Ma’am but I am noticing that if you don’t move over and let me lean on this beside table I am going to topple into you like the leaning Tower of Pisa). Could I sign this email so they could deduct it from my paycheck going forward?
She could have been handing me an affidavit to sign over my entire life savings to her and I probably would have just signed it. All I wanted was for her to move over 2 steps so I could cling onto that goddamn beside table.
And that, friends, is a glimpse into what my day was like yesterday – chock full of free floating anxiety. I did think perhaps I was premenstrual, but I checked the calender this morning and I am not.
You know, some days things work great, and some days not so much. Yesterday nothing seemed to work very well at all for me. I was certainly not a great day.
However, today I am chucking a little as I write this- Dang, I have some bizarre thoughts, lol. I may have been plagued with free floating anxiety, but I am thankful that I didn’t leave the spin class and that I stuck it out at work and did the best I could.
I wish you peace,
ps.- If you find your day is full of what if’s and chronic worries and anxiety, this may be for you- Generalized Anxiety Treatment Hypnosis Script