Monday, May 24, 2010

anxiety vs gratitude smackdown

It was a week ago right now that I had that full-fledged anxiety attack. Sitting in my car, waiting for the street cleaner to come, feeling that pit in my stomach, not able to make it calm down, ease up, go away.

I'm petrified it will happen again.

And yet, that panicked grip is losing it's hold. Very slightly. I'm having moments, periods of time, hours in fact of feeling like myself—grounded, comfortable, enthusiastic, happy, engaged. Yesterday I took Iz to a class on the upper west side. My mother in law offered to drive us up and we spent well over an hour in non-moving traffic. Iz was ok about being late. I, on the other hand, was fighting back some serious stress. I had 2 hours to kill, started wandering, wondering if I'd make it through. First I got lost in a thrift shop and found a perfect comfy long sleeved, super soft grey t-shirt. Plus, a silver/brown metallic scarf.

The clenching was subsiding.

Next was a very cool knitting store. I got lost in the yarn, the colors, the textures, looking for something to make (yet another) scarf, this one a loose wrap to wear over the vibrantly colored vintages dresses I live in all summer. I found a brownish bronze linen, silk, cotton blend.

I was imaging again.

And then I discovered a street fair, basically the same one I'd been to the day before down on 6th Avenue. Amsterdam was overflowing with throngs of people eating corn on the cob, mozzareppas (grilled cheese on round slices of cornbread), buying socks and Murano glass pendants, the last seeming to be the ubiquitous fair item of the season. I slowly strolled uptown, gazing at the many things I'd never buy, munching on my mozzareppa, comforted, wrapped up in the sameness of this experience.

I was present.

Iz and I walked back down the entire length of the fair and headed home for dinner, baths, an iCarly goes to Japan movie, and lots of yarn winding.

I was myself.

That anxious voice, the second guessing myself, the terror that I'd lose my grip and crash back into internal horror was gone.

I have hope.

Right now the knot in my stomach is back. But I know it won't last forever. I'll keep searching for ways to ground myself, to get help when I need it. To talk to people instead of keeping it inside.

This week I've learned how grateful I am for the people in my life who support me. When I shared my pain, they picked me up. When I shared my fear, they held onto it with me. When I lost faith, they believed for me.

Anxiety is all your attention turned inside. Gratitude is appreciating all that's not you.

I'm rooting for gratitude to win this battle.

And endless thanks to all of you who've been here with me.


Tony Holmes said...

You really should try Rescue Remedy for the anxiety attacks. It is homeopathic, non-habit forming, you can't overdose, and it really does help calm one down at those times when anxiety seems to be winning. Tablets are better than drops (easier to carry and administer).

Elissa Stein said...

Tony, thank you. I'm heading to the health food store to pick some up this morning.

MOLLYC said...

Yes! Rescue Remedy does work! We used it on our horses. But Paxil is the best, and I have been on it for years. My life has been so much better since. I had massive anxiety for 50 years, and only wish I had known about Paxil. I never worry any more, and the world seems like such a safer and happier place. love to you molly

LPC said...

So glad you are feeling better. The acute sensibility can lead to acute distress. Now I want to see photos of the anti-anxiety scarves:).

MrsWhich said...

I have made progress since I started treating my anxiety periods as I treated labour pains - breathing through, knowing it's part of my natural birthing process, relaxing into it, being present. Each contraction results in an opening: in my heart, in my mind, in my spirit. It's hell, but only you can decide when you're strong enough to work through it to reap the learning, or when it's too much or unproductive, and you need some assistance with the symptoms. If a homeopathic can take the edge off, I say, count me in. Let me know if you try it, how it works for you.

quin browne said...

I'm proud of you.