Many of you may not know this about me, but I deal with anxiety on a regular basis. I have been able to control my anxiety at a good level for the most part with healthy habits and so far have not had a need to medicate for it. In the grand scheme of anxiety sufferers, I would say that I’m a mid to low-level anxiety sufferer. Recently, I had a terrible anxiety attack over something totally made up in my head. It’s a little embarrassing to share here, as I feel quite silly after the fact. However, I feel I should so anyone who deals with something similar can feel less alone. Here’s my story:
This time of year is generally difficult for my husband as it was during this time of year that his mother passed away when he was only 10 years old. Last Saturday night, I had a rough night of sleep due to a very vivid dream that I had. In my dream, my husband was struggling with deep depression that I didn’t know about. In an act of desperation to relieve his suffering and any potential suffering for my son, he took my son’s life and ended his own while I was out of the home. What the heck is wrong with you, subconscious? Why would you do this to dream me? Anyways, I was very relieved to wake up and realize that it was just a dream.
In the morning I was a little short with my husband for no particular reason other than I was tired from a rough night of sleep with vivid terror dreams and woke up in a crabby mood. I left to go to church on my own that morning because I sing in the choir and my husband and son had just gotten up about 5 minutes before I had to leave. I sent my husband a text after arriving at church about an event that we had been discussing and I didn’t hear back for about a half hour. He is usually a pretty quick responder if he’s not at work. But, I’m sure it’s fine, right? He’s probably just playing with our son.
As I sat there in the church service without my phone vibrating, I became increasingly concerned. Maybe he’s mad at me for being short with him before I left. What if my dream was a warning? It’s totally happened before where I saw a glimpse of the future in one of my dreams and it actually occurred. My anxiety was already starting to build. My brain was racing around desperately trying to think of all the reasons I shouldn’t worry. Then, my brain remembered something significant. Today was the 20th anniversary of my husband’s mom’s passing. How could I forget that? He was probably feeling really low and I kicked him when he was down by being short with him over something stupid. I sent a follow-up text: “Please respond so I know you’re OK”. I waited longer. Nothing. I waited a few more minutes as my heart crept into my throat and my legs went numb. I retained my exposure outwardly but inside I was absolutely freaking out. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. Right after communion, I booked it out of the church. I started calling my husband repeatedly. He did not answer.
At this point, I’m sobbing hysterically and racing home at the highest speed I could go without getting pulled over. My mind was reeling. I was already picturing what I was going to walk into when I got home. I was trying to figure out what my life would become if I suffered such a terrible loss. I could feel some of the emotions I might have to feel. In that moment, it felt so real. I had convinced myself that something terrible like that had happened. I did cling to the last ray of logic in my brain that said, “This will all be for nothing, because they’re probably fine and have a reasonable explanation for the lack of response.” I kept calling and calling. Finally my husband answers “Hey baby, what’s up?”. I can barely form a sentence between sobs at this point but mostly it came out as “Thank God. Holy crap, you scared me.” My husband was entirely confused. He and my son were totally fine. They were just hanging out and having fun at home. I was able to get my words together enough to blurt out some detached explanation of the dream I’d had the night before and how it messed with me. It took me a while to calm down. Once I had, I felt like an absolute crazy person. How on earth had I let my brain go from zero to sixty in the duration of a 1 hour church service?
It is crazy how our brains can go down a rabbit hole convincing us of things that aren’t real. Some of us see this every day, like when we don’t get a response back on a text or e-mail. We think things like, “They must hate me or be upset about something I said.” Meanwhile, the other person is just busy living their life and hasn’t read it yet. I’m generally good at catching myself on this. It’s wasted energy worrying about how people are going to react to things. So, I’m guessing this whole incident manifested from some stuff I was worried about and hadn’t properly dealt with.
I always worry for my husband around this time of year. He seems fine, but he can be reserved sometimes so I worry that he’s not being open with me about his underlying feelings. I also had some self-induced guilt because I had told myself that I was going to do something special for him every day for the entire month of November to try and support him during a hard time. But, I didn’t follow through with that in the ways I wanted to. Usually the something special was a very small thing thought about on that day instead of planned for. I wanted to plan it better but things got busy and I just didn’t do it.
Even though I felt like I hadn’t shown up as good as I could have, my husband thanked me for my support during his tough month. He told me how much he appreciates me being sensitive to his needs and giving him the grace to do what works best for him. He also appreciates my dedication to make sure we do something to remember his Mom, even though I never got to meet her. He told me that this time of year is always hard but since we’ve been together it has been so much easier on him. He was teary-eyed with gratitude towards me and I just felt this great relief that I had accomplished my goal in supporting him, even if it didn’t look like how I’d imagined it. What a gift his gratitude gave me as it lifted that terrible guilt weight off my shoulders.
All that guilt and all that worry was for reasons that were non-existent. My husband felt supported and loved and is overall feeling pretty content and happy. Many people say that guilt is a useless emotion and I agree. But, that doesn’t mean you can always make it go away.
I’ve shared this story because I don’t think I’m the only one who has let their anxious thoughts get the better of them. We all deal with anxiety in some form or another. We all manage it in our own way. I manage mine with movement, internal coaching, and diet. I like getting that anxious energy out with yoga, strength exercises, and Werq. I coach myself throughout the day to avoid going down any weird rabbit holes. I ask myself “Will this matter a week from now?” The answer is usually a resounding “No”. It’s OK if there’s a little clutter in the living room with toddler toys everywhere, it’s not hurting anyone. My kid can still experience a great life if we don’t keep him up past his bedtime to see a lights show. I also try to eat healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some junk food. But, I try to make sure that my first choice is something that will fuel me instead of make me sluggish. This helps me maintain a clear head and be able to remain calm throughout the day.
In what ways do you work through your anxiety? Am I absolutely bonkers? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Much love and calming vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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