The Calm Before and After the Storm

I used to be afraid of bad weather when my anxiety was at its worst. Maybe it was the loud noise, maybe it was just too much going on at one time. Now, it’s the only time I actually want to sleep. “Sleeping weather” as my grandparents call it.

So, I woke up this morning to thunder and lightening. My husband and I were on our way back from the hotel (we got a room for the night to take a break from the kiddos), when the bad weather left and it was just the rain and soft thunder. My sister had text me and while we were talking, I was debating on what sort of post to write. She knew about a recent argument between Dillon and I, so she said, “Well, what about the calm after the storm?”

I thought about it for a moment. She may have meant the recovery of an argument, but since my blog is mostly about anxiety, I wanted to take that saying and turn it into something we know all too well: The storm being a panic attack.

Ahh, nothing like being short of breath, afraid for your life, and breathing into a paper bag for twenty minutes! And we all know how it starts. You’ll be up next for an audition, you might be about to speak to an audience, or you might be about to go into surgery. You start to panic when you know you’re about to do something that makes you nervous. I’ll call that a predicted storm. Most people have anxiety attacks that start out this way. No calm before the storm, whatsoever. It will slowly build up.

However, a few of us (especially me) may have panic attacks that come out of nowhere, much like when the meteorologist says it’ll be a sunny day but then the dark clouds show up and literally rain on your parade.

I have had many of these. I’ll be sitting there watching television, no worry in the world, smiling and laughing. You know, calm before the storm, and all. Then, BAM! Suddenly, I’m in full panic mode. I’m shaking like a leaf, I’m pacing around the living room, breathing like I’m being smothered, and numb from my head to my toes. The king of all storms has just hit me like a ton of bricks. When I realize what’s happening, I go to work on my techniques. I’m sure you’ve all read or heard about what to do during a panic attack. Busying yourself, facing the attack, talking yourself through it and all that jazz. Mine usually last longer than the average panic attack. About thirty minutes of hell is more than I can handle!

Finally, just like the storm came, it ended. Vanished. Any evidence that I was having a panic attack has gone and I’m left tired and wondering what the heck just happened.

It’s exactly like that time I was driving Dillon to the store. He had his window all the way down and we were just chatting when a bird kamikazied right into his head. I guess it scared him, because I have never seen him jump so quickly in the back seat. While the bird rode, dead, in the passenger seat the whole fifteen minute drive, I was laughing so hard I kept swerving. (It’s a good thing no highway patrolmen were around or I would have gotten a ticket because of a bird.) Needless to say, he was confused and wondering what just happened.

Anyway, this feeling of tiredness is what I’m calling the calm after the storm. You’re exhausted from panicking. Your body just basically went into survival mode, using most of your strength and energy to survive the “danger” you were never in. That’s a lot of adrenaline! I definitely have to go to bed right after I have an episode.

My point is, if you’re going through a storm, just know there might not always be a calm before the storm, but there almost always is a calm after. Keep doing your techniques that help you get through them, talk to someone, or heck, talk to yourself like I do! I might seem crazy, but it does help. Panic attacks are nothing more than your body’s natural response to danger. Even if there is none, your brain is telling your body that there is (the lying son-of-a-gun). You will get through it, no matter how bad the storm can get!

Just watch out for bird missiles!

By the way if you’re wondering what we did with the bird, I had to toss it outside at the next stop sign with a tissue. He was too afraid to touch it. Manly, right?

Also, on the way back that same day, a squirrel tossed an acorn at Dillon. Straight through the window. Again. Poor Dillon has no animal friends.

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