Posted in Attitudes, Humor, Special Report, Uncategorized

SO THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON “ANXIETY”?

anxietythought

You’re sitting in the back seat of a car, staring out at the mountainside. It’s early morning and life is crashing around you like a Martian dome hit by an asteroid.

You’re reviewing the road that lead to this particular disaster, wondering what you could’ve done differently.

You could’ve rented a car—if you wanted to play a fearsome game of Rollerball on 4 wheels. A mere 15 years ago it was easy

but now? There’s 2000 pounds of vehicle weaponry times a million flying past in streaks of red, silver, and the unusual color du jour chosen by car companies during any given year. Some days it looks like they took all their leftover paint, mixed it together and called it a palatable name like “wine” or “dark ruby” instead of what it really resembles: Bruise.

anxietycrashThe mountain of anxiety growing inside you is threatening to blow like a super volcano and the only thing left to do is perseverate over the conversation with your gracious host that put you into this position in the first place.

YOU:   “We have to be at the airport 2 hours early.”

HOST: “No. That’s what they tell you, but I’ve traveled a lot and…”

YOU:   “We have to be at the airport 2 hours early.”

HOST:   “Your flight is at 8:30am. If you get there at 7:30am, that’s plenty of time.”

YOU:   “But…but…we have to be at the airport 2 hours early.”

HOST: “We’ll leave at 6. You’ll get there at 7:30.”

YOU:   “but…this is an international flight. We have to be there…”

HOST:   (laughs).”Don’t worry. You’ll be there in plenty of time.”

anxiety zoneThe scenery seems to go on and on and on. Haven’t we passed that fast food restaurant before? The theme to “Twilight Zone” echoes through your brain cells. Your host has just passed the last exit for miles when your mind screams, “Gotta go!”

YOU:   “The over 50 bladder just hit with a vengeance.”

HOST: “Can it wait until we get to the airport?”

YOU:   (thinking–Oh God…Oh God…if I don’t find a bathroom in 15 minutes his back seat is going to become hazardous waste). “The next bathroom would be better.”

anxietycanOnly 15 minutes later, you’re rushing into a skanky gas station with a unisex bathroom. The lid is up and you barely have time to get your zipper down. You’re squatting over the bowl, your legs shaking at the strain of holding your body over a toilet that was last used by a cross-eyed drunk. The stream continues on and on and on, an energizer bunny of pee that threatens to outlive the muscles in your legs. That’s when you wonder how many diseases are lurking on the rim or if the last person to use the toilet had crabs.

Finally! Your hands are washed, you’re out the door and sitting in the back seat looking at a cell phone that, outside of the US, is only good for telling the time. It’s 7:00am. Already?

YOU:   “How far away are we from the airport?” (The adult version of, “Are we there yet?”)

HOST: “We have plenty of time. Don’t worry.”

anxietyworkout
How many calories do you burn when you scream?

That’s when the car stops.  Who knew there would be a traffic jam outside of Montreal on an expressway on Wednesday morning at 7:00am?

Your friend and your host are chatting away, oblivious to the pieces of the Martian dome falling all around them. Your heart is pounding so hard you feel as if your chest is going to explode.

anxietycalm

Time for a Mantra.

“I am the light I am the peace of the world…”

Ah…that’s better.

Calm….calm…calm…repeat…

“I am the blight I am the fleas of the world…”

Not so good.

anxiety name tag
!!!!!DON’T TOUCH ME!!!!!

HOST: “You all right back there?”

YOU:   “I’m sorry, the person you have dialed is presently having an anxiety attack. Please hang up and dial again when I’m sane.”

HOST: “Funny!”

YOU:   (Looking out the window thinking about the time you pulled on a partially open door, and a bucket of water fell on your head).   “We’re going to miss the flight.”

HOST: “If you do, call me. You can try again tomorrow.”

YOU:   “I’ll have to pay a penalty.”

HOST:   “Don’t you have flight insurance?”

YOU:   “Yes. It’s called getting to the airport 2 hours early.”

HOST: “Don’t worry. Once we’re over the bridge there won’t be any traffic.”

That’s when you start the deep breathing exercises—for the next 45 minutes.

The traffic lets up 5 minutes from the airport. It’s 8:15am and you try to keep it together as you say goodbye to your host and your friend leads you to the first person who looks like an official.

The official you weed out of a pack of people says, “It’s too late. You missed your flight.” Then he points to a corridor and says, “You were dropped off at the wrong exit. You have to walk about a mile to the other side of the airport to change your ticket.”

anxietywalk
Add in about a thousand more people…

He wasn’t kidding.   Both of you are dragging a 50 pound suitcase while carrying 14 pounds on each shoulder. Your friend walks ahead, leading the way. The nice lady at the Airline desk says, “We can get you on a flight to Toronto. You’ll wait in the airport for 4 hours then fly home.   You should be there around 7pm.”

Had you been at the airport at 6:30am, you would already be on the plane and in the air for the 3 hour flight home.

And now…?

“You’ll have to pay a penalty of $150 apiece.”

anxietycup

Most people say, “Oh well, these things happen. Put me on the non-stop flight for the same time tomorrow. I’ll just find a hotel room until then.”  

Not the person in the middle of an anxiety attack. Some people scream, shake, cry, rock uncontrollably.

Not you.

Once it takes its toll, you’re frozen, unable to make a decision, unable to do anything more than stare at the sky light and begin a mental mantra.

“Stay calm…stay calm…

what If a plane crashes through the skylight?

…stay calm…stay calm…

hold it together…hold it together…

We’re all going to die! We’re all going to die!

I am the light I am the peace of the world…”

anxietymeditate
Don’t try this at an airport while wearing a backpack.

Seeing you’re deep in an anxiety attack, your mind presently flash-frozen, your friend whips out her credit card, pays the penalty and arranges the flight while the theme to “Twilight Zone” plays in your mind over and over and over again. Not even changing the orchestral version to Kazoos makes a dent.

No, not all anxiety attacks are alike, but anxiety disorders share one major symptom: Persistent or severe fear or worry.

Anxiety produces a fight-or-flight response. If you’ve never been there, done that, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for a person who fights with it each and every day.  

Here are a few tips when you’re dealing with the anxiety-prone:

  • The worst thing you can do is mess up their routine.  It’s there for a reason—to prevent meltdown.
  • Don’t slap him/her, s/he might bite and then you’ll have to get a rabies shot.
  • Laughing at, teasing or dismissing the feeling of the person makes the anxiety attack worse.   So unless you like standing in the middle of an airport watching a raving, screaming ball of human rocking back and forth on the floor–or being next to the person as s/he’s yelling obscenities at people in TSA uniforms– listen, prepare, stay calm and offer assistance.
  • Don’t run as far away as possible screaming, “I don’t know that person!”  Everybody knows you do and that you’re a wuss.
  • Medication and behavior therapy don’t work for everybody. And meditation can only go so far. It’s best to do everything possible to prevent the anxiety attack from happening in the first place.
  • Which takes me back to the first point: Never mess up a routine developed over a span of decades unless you like being embarrassed out of your mind when the inevitable meltdown happens.

At the end of my last post I wrote, “… I’m still having an anxiety attack over missing the plane back home. How I managed that anxiety attack (or didn’t) is best left for another post.”

You’ve just read why.  The  day Vickie and I left for the airport to fly out of Canada, that was the scenario.

When it comes to anxiety attacks, I have day to day experience.  Humor helps, but it also helps to have a friend  like Vickie who handled my meltdown in the same way she would teach a horse to jump over a hurdle…

…very, very carefully.

horsestop
Don’t let this be you! And remember to carry a credit card.
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Author:

Crabby person who likes to rant. Reading it is free so remember-- you get what you pay for. Well endowed with the multi-layered weirdness that lurks inside a not-quite-right-mind. That's how I write SciFi. Crabby, weird, and to make matters worse, I write poetry. Some of it is even...shudder...nice. I feel like a sandwich that went on a journey of self-discovery just to find I was pastrami with Maraschino Cherries, hot peppers, the contents of an MRE and broccoli on gluten free cheese bread. After that kind of trauma no 'wich is the same again.

50 thoughts on “SO THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON “ANXIETY”?

  1. Your description of the car ride nearly gave me an anxiety attack. I’ve been in that situation a little too often. Ours is a mixed marriage – a person whose bag is packed and ready at the door the night before a trip, and a person who has time for “just one more cup of coffee” before we leave for the airport.

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    1. My sister and daughter are like your husband. When I travel with them it’s a nightmare and I can empathize with what you must go through. It’s enough to make you say you have to leave 2 hours earlier than necessary. My son is more like me. Fortunately, my husband shares my view of travel preparedness. 🙂

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  2. Reblogged this on Blogdramedy and commented:

    Our Special Correspondent, FloridaBorne, takes travel to a whole other level with today’s post. That level is called “Anxiety Alert DefCon One.” Check it out over at The Nudge Wink Report. It will be a stress-free experience…if you’re a get-to-the-airport-two-hours-early type of person.

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  3. Hilarious! Been there, done that, got the tee shirt and it lasted for exactly two washed before falling apart. Kind of like me when the Mister doesn’t run through his mantra before leaving the house and I’m in the car waiting. “Phone, wallet, keys. Phone, wallet, keys.”

    Funny but he never includes “wife.” Hmm.

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  4. I’ve had that exact same discussion only slightly different. When it gets to the part about someone expressing a different thought, I actually stop, respect them as a life form and follow their wishes. Because, why the hell not? If you want to get their two hours early then who am I to enforce my point of view on you? To each their own! You’re not some plaything for me to control and subject to my all-powerful whims.

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    1. My host is a person who doesn’t expect anything from you but your company. Very, very gracious. My sister and daughter know better than subjecting themselves to a major meltdown, but they think nothing of getting to the airport seconds before the door to the plane is shut. I think the next time I visit, the one thing my host will remember is, “Get to the airport 2 hours early.”: 🙂

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    1. More meltdown occurred after landing and getting a lecture from a husband who hates driving in Orlando–especially at night. Yes, I should have said, “Oh well,” stayed at a hotel overnight and taken the flight the next day at the same time. But in my state of mind, that’s about as likely as me asking for a sex change.

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  5. Great piece. I would not been capable of NOT leaving the house two hours early. I would have been on the phone dialing up a cab if my ride was as laissez faire as yours.

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    1. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Canadian very well. 🙂

      Seriously, you’re correct and from the very start I said that the blame for that fiasco was firmly planted upon my shoulders for not being more insistent.

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  6. I have actually willed myself to let my husband worry about departure times. If I try to push, he just goes slower. If we miss a plane and it costs us, I know that will drive him insane and we’ll be two hours early to everything, everywhere, forever. Just the way I like it.

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  7. This is so perfect. I wish people without anxiety problems could experience just once what it’s like to freak out for no apparent reason and not be able to calm down! I can’t calm down, I’m freaking insane!

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    1. For the most part the surface of Lake Anxiety looks calm but underneath the sharks are wrecking havoc. Once in a while a fin will emerge to show there might be a problem and on occasion a shark will attack a bystander. People will say, “That shark attacked me for no reason.” The truth is that the shark has been roiling under the surface for a very, very long time.

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  8. A few years ago I had a trip go terribly wrong (just the travel part) ending in my return home instead of actually getting to my destination, after 24 hours of trying and about $2500 of rebooked flights and non-refundable hotels and a rental car that were never used. By the end of it I was a hot mess and on the last leg of the return home I got on the plane, sat in my seat and went through the quietest anxiety attack of my life. There was a young girl sitting next to me and I didn’t want to frighten her so I went through cold sweats and throwing up in my mouth that lasted for about an hour. When I finally got home at midnight I sat staring at the t.v. like a zombie for about 2 hours, finally fell into a deep sleep. The next day I cried for about 4 hours ate something and huddled on my couch in the fetal position for the rest of the afternoon. From the anxiety and stress of trying to work out flights at the last minute (due to a blizzard at my destination) to depression at not being able to see the friends I was trying to get to, I was a huge ball of pathetic for about 3 days.

    I feel your pain.

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    1. In my lifetime I’ve known every one of those symptoms–but I can’t imagine having all of them at once and living through it. It’s a testament to your strength that you’re still alive.

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      1. lol thanks, one day I will blog the ill fated trip .. it was pre-ordained that I NOT make it to that destination and after a few days I came to realize it wasn’t in the cards but it sucked big fat monkey balls. Add to that I was on the phone with my mom the next day in between crying fits, the shakes and trying to catch my body up after 24 hour sleep deprivation, telling her that I was stressed with work (not wanting to have a fit at her about my trip) when she offered her best advice: “you should go on a vacation somewhere for a few days”….Yeh, I broke down into a sobbing mess.

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        1. I would highly recommend that you write a blog entry about it, and warn people never to use ‘a-hole’ travel services from the a-holes who robbed you of your money when the thwarted travel plans were no fault of your own. If just one person says, “I’m not using your services because I was told y’all are a bunch of thieves” it’s well worth the effort. 🙂

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          1. Completely agree however, in this case the start of the problems was actually my fault (I missed the first flight) then the rest was due to natural disaster which the airlines, car rentals and hotels don’t reimburse for unfortunately. I’ll tell the whole story one day. 😀

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  9. If my wife and I were alike, we’d be on the plane before the pilots with our seat belts buckled and the seat in an upright position with the tray table stowed, ready for take-off. Sadly, we are not alike in this regard. Her departure time for the drive to the airport is usually an hour later than my preferred time. Once at the gate, she usually wanders off to the bathroom and to buy a last minute snack while the plane is boarding. I guess I should be thankful. Her dawdling and lack of any sort of risks of missing the flight keep me gnashing my teeth and wringing my hands worrying about those things instead of being consumed in a giant fireball shortly after take-off.

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    1. That would drive me into primal screams at 30,000 feet. I’ve become an expert at nagging those in my family who think it’s okay to procrastinate. They’ll get me to the airport early just to get some peace. 🙂

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  10. That’s a lousy way to end your visit to my country. Please don’t hold it against us. I don’t know why anyone would risk making someone late for a flight and feeling bad about it really doesn’t help. My first anxiety attack was 5 years ago. I was by myself and it was late at night. I actually called an ambulance for myself, I was that terrified. It horrifies me that you had to go through that and that it could have been prevented by simple courtesy.

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    1. It really is a horrid feeling, one I will endeavor never to have to go through again.
      Canada in the summer is gorgeous and I deeply appreciated visiting the birthplace of my grandfather, who was French Canadian. I couldn’t have asked for a more gracious host and loved visiting the family. During the time I was there, I was treated like well-loved family. In order to help myself get over the anxiety attack, I considered how much it would have cost if I had rented a car at the airport instead, stayed at a motel and paid for all my meals while I was there Motel would have been minimum $51 a night before taxes and at least $20 a day if I ate at a fast food place supplementing it with peanut butter sandwiches. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that food and shelter alone would have cost a minimum of $1500. That’s how I work through things that I tend to perseverate over.

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      1. You are right about the cost. The comparison definitely proves that. It’s just too bad you had to suffer an attack. I’m really glad you enjoyed the part of Canada you saw. Now you can come back and see the rest of it. 😉

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  11. You’re right, if someone has never felt that sheer white panic taking over every bit of their being, they cannot know the depth of fear, the frozen, dry throat, the darting of the eyes, and that urge to run, yet knowing your feet are stuck in a bucket of set concrete.

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      1. LOL!!!! You’re right, though. I visited Chicago for a wedding this past October, by myself. How did I ever manage the nerve to do so? I was going to my best friend’s daughter’s wedding. She was with me during my postpartum psychotic break. She walked every bit of that journey with me, some thirty years ago, and was responsible for getting me help when I was helpless. Going to visit her, and remembering the journey, gave me courage.

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