Ok, so I like to think I know a bit about anxiety.
Now that I know what it is.
Figured that as I know what I’m dealing with and have tools and strategies in place to manage it I didn’t have too much to worry about anymore. Especially as I have been managing it pretty well for a couple of years now. I’ve documented the work I have done to achieve that. Indeed, the book you have in your hands is testament to that. That now was the time to really focus on helping other people.
Then I walked into some of the most massive anxiety attacks I’ve ever had last week. Attacks that stop you in your tracks. A crushing weight on your shoulders, I mean a really crushing, so heavy it feels like you are going to splat on the ground, allied with a feeling of dread in a stomach that is not only trying to tie itself in knots, but climb up your oesophagus and engulf your neck and head, a head that has a severe ache, not a head ache, a dread ache. One that is so bad that if you don’t sit down, you will fall down. Combined with the message coming from your mind that says you might be having a heart attack.
It’s horrible. Really horrible. I haven’t experienced anxiety that bad in a long time.
What was even more weird though was the fact that it seemed to be getting turned on and off according to what I was thinking. Turned on and off as if someone or something had a switch to play with.
Now, you might think this is even more bizarre, let me explain. I have wanted to go and revisit Richborough Roman Fort and had planned a visit the week before that never happened. I had decided to go when I came off shift at 10 the next day. When I decided I wouldn’t come home, wash and get changed before I went. Anxiety attack, for about 10 minutes, instant on. Bang. When I got my senses back together and decided I would take a change of clothes. Off. Just like that. A switch. Just exhaustion remaining. Still have the ability to think and make decisions.
Then at work, I walk into the sleep room, the big cozy one I haven’t slept in for ages and bang it happens again. Don’t know what that one was about, but it ended when I left the room. Is there something about that room?
I then had another one when I agreed to cover an early shift to cover sickness the next day. Was I supposed to go to Richborough castle that day. Don’t know.
Make of that what you will. I don’t believe in coincidence.
It’s still hanging around though, I can feel a slight hint of the attack almost constantly, certainly at times of inactivity. The exhaustion it left me with was present all Friday night. I did sleep in the big sleep room, many of my work colleagues are very attached to certain sleep rooms and I tend to just fit in around them. Nothing strange to report, apart from the drop in temperature. I had left the window open a little because it wasn’t cold, and I like hearing the ducks quacking on the lake as I drift off. So, I woke at about 3am in the morning and I was freezing…
I was still feeling groggy from the attacks in the morning, obviously better for the sleep, but still not 100%.
I was going to be doing some running around as I was the only driver working that day, (hence the need for me to cover) and I would have one of our charges to entertain for 2 – 3 hours that afternoon. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to do, however after several changes of mind, he decided he would like to go and see Wonka. I was really pleased. Really pleased. I had hoped to see it twice previously, but due to several dodgy decisions, (by other people, of course), it hadn’t happened.
I think the reason I hadn’t seen it on those previous occasions was because I need to see it on that day. I guess if I wasn’t going to Richborough then Wonka was the perfect pick me up. And it was too. I felt good from the minute the film began with Willy on the mast and never lost that feeling all the way through, not even when my charge called out from time to time with excitement. I was in floods of tears by the end. Partly because of the film, well, it was awesome when his mum appeared at the end. But also because of the previous thirty-six hours.
Power of three? Third time lucky to see Wonka, third opportunity to get to Richborough (It’s Monday as I write this and if I don’t get there on Wednesday it will be February and my membership card will have run out), on Wednesday. (Incidentally, when I got there on the Wednesday, it was shut!!!) Is there something important to experience at Richborough? We’ll see.
Is this coincidence? Is anxiety a way to give us a message? If so, from what, or whom? Was this pay back for an overly exciting beginning to the week, what with the tax bill becoming a rebate and a new car and all, I had been on a bit of a high? I don’t know.
Should we experience these crushing lows to allow us to experience these ecstatic highs, or is a controlled calm best?
I kinda think calm is best.
I don’t want too much of the downer I experienced on Friday, I am just glad I have the strategies and stubbornness to refuse to let it dominate me, whatever level it may attempt to rock my boat!
P.S. 1 On a last note. I had a little bit of a dilemma on Friday night, should I tell my work colleagues what I was dealing with or not. I didn’t want sympathy, but I would have liked them to understand why, if I was not my usual self. I decided I would say something if we had a proper shift reflection with everybody present. We didn’t have a proper reflection, so I didn’t.
I know a bit more about anxiety and the attacks that come with it a little more now.
P.S. 2 Is this similar to the migraines, that have eased now that I use them as the need to go on a shamanic journey. Some of the visualisations I have had have been important, some insignificant, but poignant.
Am I being directed? And if so, by what?
P.S. 3 The beauty of being human is that we have the power to question, and ask questions, ultimately freewill, the power to make choices. Am I being directed to a greater purpose? Am I just deluding myself and having delusions of grandeur?
All I know is that I do have the power of choice and as long as what is happening is coming from a good place and not fuelled by greed, then, because its exciting, I’m gonna go with it and trust that if that’s not the case, I will be able to step off whatever it is that I’m on.
Simon Pollard. Urban Countryman, February 2nd 2024.