Public post!

Last night I had an anx­i­ety attack. In ret­ro­spect, it built up over the course of two days, but at the time, I just thought I was run­ning low on spoons and need­ed to take it easy. Then it popped right before bed, which is one of the worst times for me to deal with one of these. It’s inevitably going to screw up my sleep, which leads to a wreck of the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

But Tami, you’re on drugs and you say they’re work­ing? I am on drugs and they are work­ing, you’re right. Unfortunately, with this kind of dis­or­der, the drugs don’t address the source of the prob­lem, they just mit­i­gate the symp­toms so that they become man­age­able and I can get a han­dle on them to live my life. So what’s the source? Brain weasels. Unfortunately sci­ence doesn’t yet know how to wran­gle them or extract them to a more suit­able envi­ron­ment. So when the brain weasels get destruc­tive it’s hard for the drugs to keep up.

What that means for my real­i­ty is that on Saturday I was over­ly-social and active. I went on a hike with Mr. V, then attend­ed a birth­day from 3pm to almost 9 that night, a thing I could do because the drugs man­age my social anx­i­ety. Then on Sunday I ran around with Mr. V in the morn­ing to do chores, attend­ed a jour­nal­ing group from noon to 2, and prompt­ly ran out of juice. The drugs keep me from pan­ic and fear while I’m doing a social thing, but they don’t keep the social thing from being a very drain­ing and stress­ful expe­ri­ence, and I had the week­end packed with social things.

Normally that would have been the end of my week­end. I emp­tied my tank and I would have rest­ed the remain­der of the night then had a good sleep. Instead I asked Mr. V to take over my chores so I could play some video games–something he glad­ly agreed to since it was obvi­ous I was wiped out–then I worked myself up for gro­cery shop­ping.

I’m not sure if it was the gro­ceries, the jour­nal­ing, or some­thing else, but at some point my anx­i­ety decid­ed we were done and kicked on the guilt machine. The guilt machine start­ed run­ning before I noticed it and by the time I got in the show­er that night it was already in full swing. I’d ditched my chores, almost picked a fight with Mr. V, took a show­er by myself which the anx­i­ety decid­ed was pun­ish­ment, and I was about ready to cry as I brushed my teeth.

I let Mr. V know that I was in an anx­i­ety spi­ral, and felt bad about dump­ing my chores on him. He reas­sured me things were fine, but the anx­i­ety didn’t believe him, and I went to bed mild­ly upset. I slept sur­pris­ing­ly well. I woke up fair­ly alert and with­out any sign of the anx­i­ety bomb that was about to explode. I had break­fast with Mr. V, kissed him good­bye on his way to work, and changed into work­out clothes.

Mr. V texted me when he got to work and asked me how I was doing. I then prompt­ly had a com­plete freak out. I was already on my sta­tion­ary train­er, so as I ped­aled away, I typed a short nov­el into text to him about what I was feel­ing and how I felt about feel­ing that way, how none of my reac­tions were log­i­cal or under any con­trol, and so on. Suffice to say my work­out was a mess and the cry­ing didn’t help. It wasn’t even cathar­tic. Sharing just seemed to make every­thing worse.

I moved to my writ­ing Slack group and waved a flag. Help, the brain weasels were tak­ing over! I received self-care help and direc­tion from my friends that allowed me to fin­ish my morn­ing rou­tine and get myself up to the café where I like to work. I lis­tened to music the whole way. When I arrived, my weasels, and my stress, had calmed way down. I took a nap in the car and when I woke up, I start­ed my day over.

All of that is con­sid­ered severe anx­i­ety well man­aged, and as long as these kinds of episodes are lim­it­ed to once a month or so, there’s no oth­er treat­ment rec­om­mend­ed. Thankfully they hap­pen to me far less often than once a month, but that wasn’t always the case.

It’s after­noons like this, look­ing back on a recent attack, that I can com­pare against my pre-drug expe­ri­ence and know with com­plete cer­tain­ty that the drugs are work­ing. This is far more man­aged than it used to be.