Weathering the Anxiety Storm

So the clouds in this picture are called Mammatus clouds and are apparently seen after a severe storm or tornado has passed. I think they are creepy and just can’t quite appreciate them like the weathermen on the television who call them ‘beautiful’. I keep expecting a tornado to pop out of one of them. And by the way, the cable is now out. Sigh…

We just had a tornado warning (different and more serious than a tornado ‘watch’) here in Lincoln and of course my husband is out of town…queu the anxiety attack that I just now got under control. Nonstop lightning and thunder that sounded like it was right above our house, strong winds, pitch black sky, hail – the works. That’s right, I’m a wuss and I. Hate. Storms. Usually my husband is great about calming me down during these warnings, but tonight I was on my own. 

I tried my mindfulness, I tried my breathing exercises, but this one was a doozy. Chest pain, nausea, the shakes and shortness of breath…lovely. This was a job for Xanax. I needed my head clear should anything progress to the point where we needed to head down to the basement. 

My mama bear instincts kicked in and to be there for my son, I needed to have it together myself. Sometimes I feel guilty about needing Xanax during these times – and I’m working on trying to release that guilt. I need to practice what I preach and let that guilt go. My son slept peacefully through the whole thing and his tranquil little face helped to bring me down a notch or two as well. 

The funny thing is, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where ‘The Big One’ is something everyone talks about happening. If you aren’t familiar with that terminology, it means a huge earthquake that people believe will level Seattle and possibly other surrounding cities. We also lived near active volcanoes that at some point will probably erupt again. 

Sooooo it’s not like I’m new to the possibility of a natural distaster. But the weird part is that I never worried about those things. They didn’t give me anxiety, I just never thought about them. Out of sight out of mind, right? I mean besides the times  when it’s actually sunny and clear and you can see Mt. Rainier – it’s beautiful and instead of thinking about the looming threat of an eruption, I’m always in awe of the size and beauty of it when the clouds clear and it appears. 

See, tornadoes are not beautiful and the storm that comes along with them aren’t either. Anxiety is like that. A storm in your body and mind, that builds up until the turmoil reaches its pinnacle and things spin out of control. Maybe that’s why they scare me so much, because they remind me of the out of control feelings of a bad anxiety attack. My thoughts just start spiraling and spinning until I just can’t even think straight. 

It amazes me when the physical symptoms begin – how can something in my mind create palpable (and painful) feelings in my body? And every time, I somehow start to panic that those feelings won’t stop, that my world won’t stop spiraling. But just like a tornado or a bad storm, there is always an end to it. The calm after the storm. 

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