I had a whole other ‘Anxiety in my Mind’ post planned but life happens.
Today I did not go to work.
I had a panic attack in the morning. The cause was a combination of a lot of things (as it usually is):
1) I didn’t have my car. I walk to work or go by bike so I don’t really need my car. It’s a safety blanket. I don’t feel as stuck in my smaller than small 26,5m2 apartment when I have a vehicle that can take me somewhere else (usually to my parents’).
2) My Dad had a Doctor’s appointment. I feel embarrassed and shamed writing about this. In recent years I’ve coped very well when my parents have had plans. (Which means they can’t come and “help” me. I don’t usually if ever need their help but my anxiety wants them to be a safety blanket as well. I’ve worked (and still work) hard to change this.) But now I didn’t have my own car and my Mom didn’t have a car so she couldn’t come and pick me up. I felt stuck.
3) I was already sick with a stomach bug or something. I realised this later in the day. For a few days my stomach hadn’t felt right. Yesterday evening I felt quite sick and I felt like throwing up. This morning I thought that the nausea and everything else were only because of the panic attack and I felt like a loser when I called in sick for work.
At first I was too ashamed to write about this but here goes: Dad ended up borrowing a neighbour’s car so Mom could use their car to come pick me up.
This brings me to the topic of this post: disappointment. Every person dealing with anxiety and panic attacks (and various other disorders) know the feeling: you feel like a failure, a bad person, you wonder if various people are now mad at you.
These are all irrational thoughts. At the same time as I cried to my Mom on the phone and told her that I feel like a bad person, I knew that I wasn’t. But the feelings were so overwhelming, I had to look for outside reassurance.
When I said I felt like a bad person for not being able to go to work, my Dad said that I shouldn’t feel like that: “You don’t go to work when you’re sick. And your co-workers have taken way more sickdays than you. Don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Which is all true. But here’s the thing we with mental health problems struggle with. I felt so bad because I’ve had panic attacks in the morning before and still managed to go to work. So why was this day different? It was “just” a panic attack. I should’ve been able to go to work like before, right?
But these things happen. Some days are easier and some harder. And even if you have a harder time, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped recovering. “Three steps forward and one step back” but you’re still making progress. I’m writings this down because I need to remind myself of this time to time.
These feelings of disappointment, shame, embarrassment and regret used to bother me for days (even weeks or months, in some cases years) after events like this happened. Now I’ve learned to be more forgiving and gentle towards myself. I’ve got work to do still but I’m heading into the right direction.
My words for you who are dealing with this kind of stuff: it’s not the end of the world, try not to dwell on these feelings (I know it’s hard!). Also what I’ve found out is that talking about and sharing these experiences and feelings really help.
Talking about disappointment kills it.