Panic attacks run in my family.
Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.
I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.
Yeah. They suck.
But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—
What did I do today?
Was I productive or did I neglect something important?
Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?
Did I get enough sleep?
Did I focus on the good things in my life?
Did I achieve (or set) any goals?
How is my relationship with myself right now?
Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?
I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.
These things are all just anxiety fuel. Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.
So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.
Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.
So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:
- Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
- Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
- Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.
I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.
What is your Dragon trying to tell you?