Since anxiety attacks are based on fears that can be unrealistic or magnified, wouldn’t you know when you’re going to have one? Can’t you just say, “My fears are overwhelming I better prepare for a anxiety attack”? Unfortunately, at times they come unexpectedly. One minute you might think you have everything under control and then suddenly you’re in an episode. You’re shaking, your hearts pounding, you’re sweating or you’re sick. You try to think why, but your not sure what it is that has you in knots. Shouldn’t there be warning signs?
The other day I was off from work. I did laundry, read a book, went to an appointment, and went to supper with my hubby. It was a nice day. I had no stress. My appointment with my psychiatrist went well. He said I was doing great. I did the laundry a little bit at a time and there was no pressure to get it done, yet I started feeling sick and dry heaving. It came on suddenly and I couldn’t figure out why. I was having a good day. Why did I have an anxiety attack?
I tried hard to figure out why I was having an attack. My husband asked me, “What is bothering you?”
I looked at him and replied, “I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. Everything is fine.”
He put his arm around me, “Are you sure you’re not telling me something?”
I shook my head no. It just hit me without warning. I had no explanation.
A month and a half ago, Lou and I took a trip out of town. We went to the zoo, went shopping and bummed around Cincinnati. It was fun and relaxing. We were away from home, there was no work to worry about, we had plenty of money, and we were relaxed, yet one day I started dry heaving and I got sick. It just came out of the blue. We were spending the day at the zoo. We had fun; I had no reason to have an anxiety attack, but yet I was having one.
I understood why I had an attack when I got us lost looking for a restaurant, but there was no reason at the zoo. I was having fun looking at all the animals and spending the day with my love. It just didn’t make sense. It hit me suddenly without warning. At least when we got lost, Lou was able to calm me down before I got sick, but when it comes unexpectedly there’s nothing you can do. You can’t do relaxation techniques. You can’t talk yourself down. All you can do is let it happen.
Maybe there was a deep down fear I couldn’t recognize that caused my anxiety attack. When the attack was over, I sat down and tried to think of what could cause my problems. When I thought about the day I had off, I realized I did have a fear that I didn’t recognize that was playing inside me. A friend’s husband died. I couldn’t help but deep down grieve for her and wonder what if I were in her shoes and it was my husband. My heart ached for her even though I seemed to be having a good day. Deep in the back of my mind she was there, and I hurt for her and feared the day I would lose my own husband.
I didn’t recognize my feelings until later that night when I journaled and listed the things that happened that day. Even with the day at the zoo there was a hidden fear. When I listed things that might cause my anxiety, it came back to my continuous fear of not having enough money. This is a magnified and unrealistic fear that often haunts me. Even though we had enough money, that underlying fear was there. We spent money on the zoo, food was expensive there, and we had a train ride.
So even though anxiety attacks hit suddenly and without warning, there may be an underlying fear you may have not recognized. Even though things might seem to be fine, deep within the back of your mind there may be something you’re not aware of. After your unexpected attack, list possible reason that might be unresolved that could cause your attack. Then work on that problem. The unexpected attack always has a cause even if you don’t recognize it right away. It’s up to you to find out what it is.
I don’t have my anxiety completely under control and I still have sudden attacks, but I’m learning how to fight them and recognize what may cause them. I stand up to my attacks and I refuse to let them run my life; because I’m willing to do this, I stand above the hole in the gleaming light.