The last 2 days I have been extremely busy at work and dealing with anxiety was about the last thing on my mind. But pop up out of nowhere it did, and I wanted to share about it.
Yesterday there was a mandatory inservice on fire safety that everyone had to attend. I was having my lunch at the time and the inservice was just outside the break room.
These things are easy enough to skip, all you really have to do is get back to work and read the minutes of the meeting yesterday and then sign your name. And to skip it was my first inclination, because when I saw everyone sitting around in a big circle, that is a huge trigger for me for social anxiety symptoms…
I was in a pretty good spot mentally, not particularly anxious. I had been feeling a little jittery earlier that morning, but after being in the groove of work for a few hours, I’d definitely mellowed out.
Since I felt good, I decided to pull up a chair, attend the inservice and take notice of my feelings.
The instructor doing the inservice was at the head of the room and she had a power point presentation on a really small laptop. There were probably 15 or so chairs in a circle around the laptop, and in some places, the chairs were 2 deep.
I sat there and immediately my mind starts to wander into irrational anxiety territory. The cool thing was it was controlled, I was able to observe the feelings and thoughts.
Here is how it went:
Hmmm… there is someone to the right of me, someone to the left of me, someone behind me, and people directly across from me. I am completely boxed in. Crap… I really must blog about this tomorrow.
Ok, what to do? Well first of all, why am I holding my breath? My lower stomach muscles are all contracted (out of habit, this is how I hold my gut in lol). This will not serve me right now. No wonder I’m feeling weird and tingly, I need to do diaphragmatic breathing.
Deep, slow belly breaths, exhale fully, hold the exhale. Extend the exhale.
The girl to my right keeps asking questions. Damn it! (Who asks questions at these stupid things??)
Naturally when she talks all eyes are on her- which means some people MAY be watching me (gulp). Since she is not a native English speaking person, she is having trouble finding the right words. I want to blurt out what she is trying to say so the attention will go back to the instructor.
Stop touching your face and itching your hand. Stop moving and squirming. FREEZE!
Stop holding your breath. Damn it. My anxiety got to a high point during this heated debate about normal saline and sterile water and now I’m trying to figure out where I would run if I had to beat a hasty retreat.
Hmm. the locker room is a short sprint down the hall, there is a bathroom there…
Why are bathrooms always the safest place? That is so messed up…
What am I going to do once I get in the bathroom? What if no one can get me out? What if I can’t calm down? My shift is at least until 8pm and it’s noon now. How in the hell am I going to make it until the end of my shift? Do I still have that quarter pill of Xanax in my purse?
Oh my God, Lord please help me. Jill- reign it in girl, this is nonsense!
Please stop talking, lady…… Ok , thank god she got her stupid question answered. Now back to the power point presentation.
Ok now we have to watch a film on this tiny lap top. All the chairs squeeze in closer. Gulp.
But I haven’t completely lost it. I do remember to let the anxiety do it’s worst. I remember to relax and let the wave wash over me.
Ok wash over me anxiety…God this film is taking forever. These actors are really bad. Get to the point already. This is so dumb.
I can see the person next to me in my peripheral vision- she is breathing normally. The person to the right of me is breathing normally too. Who is behind me? Is she watching my head? The 4 people across from me don’t seem to be staring at me, but I don’t really know because i don’t want to look directly at them.
No one is watching me. I will be ok. Everyone here is going to go on and live their life and no one will ever remember this little time we were all sitting in a circle. Except me.
Relax Jill, stop moving around. Breathe…. Relax your neck, relax your face, relax your shoulders, relax your arms…Keep going….
Ok I’m relaxed. I feel like a sack of potatoes, I am so slumped in my chair…. I must look like an idiot. Hell, who cares, at least I don’t feel like I have to bolt out the door anymore.
Then I start to feel triumphant. I even do a Yawn and Stretch in case anyone wonders why I am so slumped in my chair. It’s because I’m bored. You hear that everyone? I’m not anxious? I’m bored! Really! Don’t I look bored?
Oh my God, my feet are sweating like crazy. Now they’re itchy. How can I itch my feet without anyone noticing…
Hey, why is everyone moving around, standing up? Oh, goodie, the presentation is over! Thank God!!
Yay- Score! This feels great!
I sashayed down the hall like I won the grand prize in the Kentucky Derby or something. I was just a little wobbly, but feeling wonderful nonetheless. This was a true moment of triumph in coping with anxiety .
I didn’t run, I didn’t retreat in fear. I felt all the crazy feelings and all had the weird thoughts, and I allowed myself to just let them come without fighting it. Even though I felt like I wanted to…
And I won..
Friends, dealing with anxiety is no walk in the park. But if you’re prone to it or have a history of panic attacks, it will rear it’s ugly head, sometimes when you least expect it.
Remember not to lose your cool when dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is not rational, but YOU ARE. Please remember that.
I wish you peace,
ps.- Recommended: Self Hypnosis for Panic Attacks