Friday, August 26, 2005

The Anatomy of An Anxiety Attack

If you've ever had one, does it have a color? Mine are greyish red.

Okay, I just had an anxiety attack. I know what they are now, I know how they feel when they're coming on, and I know they will resolve themselves. And that I will live.

I am beginning to find it rather fascinating that the mind has to override the body with such sternness, and that it can. The body thinks something is terribly, terribly wrong. The mind firmly informs it that nothing is wrong, and stop it right now.

I was working on two sermons for Sunday. I am preaching one in the morning at the usual worship service and the other in the evening, on the occasion of an ordination.
I worked on them a long time. I got help from friends.
I am sure they're acceptable. I wrote them with love and sincere intent to minister to those who have gathered. Psalm 19, and so on.

The anxiety was just one of those unreasonable whompers that happens. It's not rational. It just happens. After the effort of finishing the work, my mind, freed from the constraints of composition, went into a mad spin-out of self-doubt. It's happened before and it goes something like this, "Both of these sermons stinketh mightily. Not only do they stink, they stink and rot for about two pages too long. When you leave that church people will joke for years about that woman who came that day and bored them out of their minds not just once, but twice, and for about ten minutes longer than was strictly necessary."

And then you see reddish gray that takes up your entire field of vision, and then the body floods with heat, and the pins and needles prick up and down the torso, and the breathing occurs through a tiny straw.

So you immediately get up and leave the desk and walk out to get some fresh air and sit on the grass, mostly for the green antidote to red it provides.

I'm fine, it happens, it helps to write about it. I spend a lot of my life looking for evidence that other generally productive, hard-working, ostensibly sane people are as crazy as I am. If you're looking for that evidence, too, well, here's some with PeaceBang's regards.

Having had this whomper today, I feel like I scored big: maybe I won't have any anxiety on the plane tomorrow or Monday.

If you'd like to comment, I hope you will not feel its necessary to offer pastoral support, but it would be very interesting to hear about your experiences with anxiety if you'd care to share.


Blogger Chalicechick said...

Knock em dead today, PB


Blogger Roger Kuhrt, PhD said...

PB wrote: "I spend a lot of my life looking for evidence that other generally productive, hard-working, ostensibly sane people are as crazy as I am."

Yeah, well that could be ME! I resemble that comment. Probably as crazy, maybe more so. I was thinking of you and the absence of another post.

F.Y.I. 30% of the US population experience Panic Attacks! You are not alone.

As for producing things that "suck"; well I doubt that--you appear to live rather "high on the hog" of creativity and generative activity. By the way are ya gonna share your presentation on Worship? Sure hope so.

Well, if I go crazier than I am--I hope I just begin to be as creative as YOU PeaceBang.

Cheerfully, Roger Kuhrt

Blogger Anna said...

You hit the nail right on the head with your description, right down to the pins and needles. I have them about once a month or so and have to talk myself down. More often recently during our move. More likely late at night for me, as I vibrate at a pretty high frequency after 10. I'm a night person, but an alone doing thinking tasks at night person, not an accomplishing important things or taking big risks at night person.

So when I have to say, walk down an unfamiliar route to get to the Marta train late at night, as I did after the Braves game Saturday night, panic attack city. We were going to get rolled, our new friends (who just came from Korea a few weeks ago, one of whom is pregnant) would hate us for taking them on this crazy adventure, the bus would not come to the train station near our house and we would be stuck 3 miles from the house with no cash for a cab because we spent it all on food at the game, etc. Real buzz-kill after a great game, and unfortunately my husband bore the brunt of it, because he was the one who didn't want to take the shuttle to the train station due to nostalgia for the way he used to walk back after games in his youth.

But it all turned out okay, and I didn't freak out anywhere other than in my head and in my hissed comments to my sweetie. I usually recite the mantra "Keep it together" over and over a la Eddie Murphy's character in Bowfinger.

I spend a lot of my time wondering if anyone is as crazy as me also, so at least now we both know one other UU blogger who is. Statistically that must mean there are thousands more if we expanded the search to the wider world of those who neither blog or are UU. Such knowledge makes me feel better, that's for sure.

Blogger Who's Askin'? said...

I am a completely "normal", successful, fully functional person and I go through bouts of anxiety. When I'm in an axious phase it usually lasts a few months...where attacks spike up more frequently. Then I go dormant for a long time.

I read an invaluable book that really helped me so much-- it is called "Don't Panic" and is available on amazon. It really changed how I move through an attack. One needs to change their private commands ("I MUST keep it together!!") which only intensifies anxiety.

Anyway....Happy HOlidays!

Anyway, anxiety sucks!

Blogger Anne said...

Hi there..Lizard Eater pointed me in your direction today. I had a panic attack last first one and it certainly wasnt any fun. I didnt really know what was going on with me..but I felt like my heart was going to explode.

Not fun stuff..I hope mine was a one time thing..but if they do continue it is nice to know that you guys have found a way to work through them..


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