Today for Warrior Wednesday, I am so proud to share with you guys this snippet of my sister’s life. For those of you still getting to know me, I have a twin sister. We both have anxiety, but interestingly enough I find our experiences of it to be so different.
Lauren first experienced a panic attack over a decade before I did. So I guess you could say that from the very beginning, it just manifested itself differently between both of us. Here is her post.
Mental Health Awareness month. An important topic for me. I’m living a Mental Health Awareness life! I have struggled most with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve been having panic attacks since I was five years old, and for the longest time I had no idea what was happening to me or why. Even when I finally had a name for it – panic attack – I still didn’t know what to do about them, I didn’t know any ways to help myself. Only over time have I learned how to manage them, and cope with them. I’m still a work in progress.
One of my more memorable experiences of having a panic attack attack came after a rather pleasant 26th birthday. I’d spent the day with my twin and her boyfriend, and honestly the day could not have gone better. However once I got home, the crushing weight of reality – my own existence, of life, and meaning came crashing in on me. I experienced a kind of out-of-body experience. I remember screaming, and crying. I don’t remember being in control. Almost as if I was watching myself have this experience from the outside. It was terrifying, and only after taking an anti-anxiety pill and waiting twenty minutes did I begin to feel a sense of calm. It felt like an eternity, and then even though I didn’t feel afraid in that moment anymore, I felt afraid of ever feeling that afraid again.
I can only use myself as an example because everyone is different, and people experience anxiety and panic attacks differently. For me, taking care of my physical self is number one. It’s important for me to have nutritious food, get adequate sleep, and have at least moderate exercise every day. For me, it all starts with the body. I used to try to control my thoughts with other thoughts, which is a bit like trying to bite your own teeth. When my physical body knows it’s feeling good, it helps to keep my mind in check!
The struggle is real – but it is possible to find ways to manage our lives while living with mental illness.