3.17.2014

Crossing Over


I debated about whether I should post about this and ultimately decided that I wanted to share it with all of you. Maybe it can help someone. More likely, it's good for me to write it out.

I had a panic attack on Thursday. At work.

I've never gone through such a thing before, so when it was happening I didn't know what exactly was happening, other than I couldn't breathe, which made me feel even more frantic. Basically, my body was having a reaction to stress.

What caused the stress? Very simply: my own mind. When I don't have an immediate solution to something, I dwell on the problem. Then dwelling turns to catastrophizing.

The Real Issue

Independence has always been a big theme for me. I've been classified as the "strong" one many times in my life. I've taken pride in that. However, labels can cause more damage than good. While I was busy being the strong one, I was cheating myself out of the very necessary practice of being vulnerable.  Or rather, I failed to see that vulnerability = strength.

I haven't voiced enough--on here or in real life--how much I miss London, how I think about it everyday, and how I unhealthily compare it to San Diego. Every. Day. I've been needing to voice it, but I haven't. For fear of sounding like a broken record, or for fear of seeming too weak, I suppose. I wanted to move on to getting happier and feeling better, but failed to voice how I was really feeling.

So let me write this out once. How I really feel:

I am a woman who absolutely loved living abroad and is completely unsure if I made the right decision in coming home. I feel pressures from family to stay in my hometown. I also know I haven't given my hometown a proper chance since being back and am unsure how to do so. I want to learn how to appreciate life no matter where I am, but I can't shake the feeling that I was made to live in other places. I am stubborn and want to be perceived as having strength; while sometimes I am strong, I also have moments of incredible weakness. I am human. I don't like to admit that. I've been feeling sad, edging on depression for the last few months. I've been feeling stuck and suffocated. This all finally caught up with me, and so my body reacted to all the turmoil!

Whew!

The Real Solution

The good thing about panic attacks (there's a good thing?) is that it forces you to talk. I don't have a choice to hide my thoughts any longer. So I'm talking. And even looking into seeing a therapist if that will help me sort through my layers UPON layers of thoughts. I'm saying a prayer to the higher power.

I'll end on a high note: the other day, my friend pointed out that I always show him pictures of bridges, and that I "must really love them." You know what? I do. I love the idea of crossing over bodies of water (or anything with a death drop) and making it to the other side. Total faith must be put in the bridge--and the process of crossing the bridge--to get to the safe haven. No matter the dangers that are threatened (earthquakes, strong winds, typhoons), I will choose to cross anyway. I'm crossing now, knowing I have to put the legwork in being more open and more vulnerable. I choose to not let anxiety control my thoughts; I'm crossing over instead.

Funny enough, these pictures were taken the very day I had the panic attack (I had it earlier in the day). Funny how bad days always have the opportunity to turn around into something beautiful.




How do you deal with anxiety? Your tips and tricks would actually be very appreciated!

21 comments:

  1. Hang in there girl. Even though scary and not fun, these stressful experiences give way to opening our minds to a new way of life. Think of it more as a metamorphosis! I'm right there with you, reminding myself the same everyday.

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  2. Seeing a therapist is a great idea. I rave about mine quite a bit. Although I'm not looking forward to seeing mine today and her asking about getting my stuff back from Sandi...

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  3. Why do you have to stay in your home town? Do what you want to do or at least plan to. Go live in London and try that out. Theres always a way. We moved from there (ironically) to Nova Scotia. Its a leap of faith and its all part of that adventure called life.

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    1. Yes, you're right. I think I just want to make sure I'm not making a rash decision without giving SD a chance, as my family is here. But I'm visiting London for my graduation in July, so that should give me a good idea if I should go back! Being full of anxiety is a deeper problem i want to tackle as well, and goes beyond moving cities.

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    2. I have realized how hard that sounded having just re-read it when it was meant to be motivating. I hear you on the therapy, its helped me out a lot

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    3. No worries, Nat! (Nat? Do you go by that?)

      It's good you asked the question!

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  4. Hugs girl. Talking and even writing about my anxiety and panic attacks has helped me. Talking mostly. Not just to random people (obviously not random people) but to close friends I believe were willing to listen, give feedback or just be there for me without letting anyone else in unless it was needed. It helped, and still helps. It's like our own panic attack group that we meet once a week. Great feeling.
    Of course, if that doesn't help there's always therapists that can and do help. It's not a bad thing to see someone professionally. There's really nothing wrong with that.

    Sending you positive vibes!

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  5. Best of luck dealing with all the stress. It's tough adjusting back home. You know you think you can go back home and then you question that decision. But you can always go again. Take chance while you are young, otherwise when else would you do it? Seek support and help if necessary. Find ways to normalize yourself. Take trips when you are home on weekends or whenever you can. Explore San Diego as a visitor, try to avoid being "in a rut". Look at figuring out what you are really passionate about and start taking classes or otherwise pursuing people and connections doing that.

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  6. Interesting, compelling post. Good that you are confronting the issue constructively. I've known many people who studied abroad and had difficulty adjusting upon their return. Have you compared notes with anyone who did something similar? Also, another thought, could it be that you're missing being a grad student, rather than living in London? Finally, if you moved to London and had a full-time job, would that give you enough of the same satisfaction to warrant the move?

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    1. Yes, I have thought extensively about how I was a student in London (and I did work the last 4 months of being there). However, my job in London was with a study abroad program, so I wasn't in the office all the time. It's difficult to find a job like it here! It's one of the things I struggle with (although I really love my bosses at my current job!). I like to be on the move.

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  7. Big hug! I feel terrible for you, Ashley. I can relate too. I used to have really bad panic attacks when I was a teenager. For this, I always had a paper bag with me to breathe into when I felt one coming on. It did help a little. Eventually, I outgrew it (the panic attacks, not the anxiety!), but I'm sure I couldn't have done it without my mom to talk to. But I think you're well on your way to controlling your anxiety. You've already identified what's causing your turmoil (in such a succinct post!), now it's just a matter of what your next step is. Sending positive vibes your way!

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  8. Sometimes these thoughts and feelings take a while to sort out - and I'm not talking about the "oh you're still in your 20s so it's okay to be indecisive" kind of sorting. It's obvious that you and London made a very strong, very real connection, and while it may be a huge leap to actually move there, it's perfectly fine to realize that San Diego may not be the right place for you anymore and that your next step in life may lead you somewhere else, even if you're not entirely sure yet where that might be.

    And as for family, ultimately you need to do what's best for you and they will accept it. When Court and I got involved I was living in Chicago and she was still in Albany; as it became obvious that it would be less disruptive for me to move to Albany than for her to move to Chicago, things got very contentious between my family and I (they had no problems with Court, they just didn't want me to leave). But, ultimately, I did, and although they still miss me I doubt that any of them would say my life would be better today had I stayed in Chicago.

    Seeing a therapist can be very helpful, I did for almost two years and I made some sense of the grease fire that was my life at the time. Let your heart tell you where you want to be, and from there these things have a way of falling into place.

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    1. Thanks Frank, I think you are one of my friends that understands feeling very connected to a city. Not everyone understands that idea, and it gets difficult to voice after awhile!

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  9. I feel you. I have a similar problem, only thing is I'll never find what I'm searching for. I will say it's good to find someone you can talk to and help you through the confusion and pain. I wish you all the luck. Keep that faith strong and follow your heart. As much as a person can know another through blog posts, I have no doubts that you'll find your way.

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    1. And you are so right! I want to make sure I am not always "searching." Everything seems to relate back to HF!

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    2. In that case, I say the scene most fitting?

      I guess it looks as if you’re reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?
      No…
      Not alphabetical…
      Nope…
      What?
      Autobiographical.
      No fucking way.

      :)

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  10. just got caught up on your posts! i'm so sorry you're going through this. i've never had a panic attack, although i've felt close to it before. i wish i had the right answer, the right piece of advice. that's what humans like to do: to give our advice, our 2 cents. but it sounds like you're taking the right steps. lots of hugs for you!

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  11. Everybody has their own way of running away from their core issues. Perhaps for you, it's traveling. One of the ways I run is by looking for attention from men. Or thinking my love of music will solve all my problems. Anytime I look to anything else but God to define who I am, I end up with huge amounts of anxiety and never feel satisfied. God gives us our passions, but we have to ask him how to use them and trust that he will give us direction - you don't have to figure it all out by yourself.

    I've had anxiety attacks in the past - they happened because I was stuffing my core issues/feelings. I thought I was smart and pride kept me from admitting I had any 'real' problems. We all have a tendency to think we can figure out our own answers in a misguided attempt to "find ourselves." I think a good therapist is a GREAT option - that, coupled with Celebrate Recovery, has worked out very well for me. Just don't forget who your higher power is - Jesus Christ. I don't have the answers for you but he certainly does. He will give you the strength, wisdom, guidance and direction to figure it out on day at a time. Trusting him is the key, Miss Ashley.

    D.

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  12. Hi Ashley, well done on trying out therapy. I think one of the great aspects to therapy is having a skilled listener who doesn't have their own agenda or bias - your family and friends would all try their best to help, but they can't match the openness, the lack of judgement, the absence of any bias, and the skill to delve and uncover that therapists can offer. Best wishes for your upcoming journey!

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