We know the feeling. You’re sound asleep, everything feeling fine as your head drifts off, you’re sleeping so deeply and it feels incredible. And then, in one moment, that all changes. You wake with a start. You don’t know what woke you up, was it a sound? A movement outside? Maybe a bad dream that gave your body a shock? You don’t know. All you do know is that now your body is freaking out. Your heart is beating harder than you ever thought it could. Sweat is running down your forehead, staining your pajamas. Your hands shake as you raise them to wipe the sweat from your forehead and don’t seem to calm as you put them back down. You keep looking around the room in a state of delirious, half-awake observation. Your mind is still trying to wipe away the cloud of sleep while also figuring out what is happening. Why is your body experiencing all this? None of it makes sense. Your stomach has begun to churn, like a pot of wax was just dumped into it and it has begun to swirl and solidify. You feel almost like you could throw up but there is nothing there. You flex and unflex your fingers as if your body just needed to expel whatever negative energy is taking over. It also doesn’t help that you’re starting to feel numb in your limbs. Your body feels like it’s just losing control. As the physical symptoms continue to occur, your emotions and thoughts begin to be affected as well. You are terrified of what is happening. Still not knowing what woke you up in the first place, you wonder how you can ever fall back asleep. Are you losing your mind? Did your brain just decide that while you were sleeping that it wasn’t going to do it anymore?
No, of Course Not. You’re Experiencing Anxiety
If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you already know that fact. We also hope that you know that you’re okay. Anxiety is fickle and it never wants to surface at an opportune time. It comes in when you don’t want it (which is probably all the time, right?) and tries to kick you down immediately. It’s a terrifying experience. It’s hard to know how to handle those moments when they happen, especially when you’re in the throes of it. Your mind is going a thousand different places and directions at once, so we don’t expect you to be able to completely discern what’s happening at all. We can tell you that the most important thing to do is breathe. With a quick heartbeat, comes fast, shallow breathing. This isn’t going to help you at all ,so the first thing you should do is get a handle on it. Take control of something in the situation. Okay, now you’re making progress. Your breathing is slowing down, and with it, your heartbeat. As your heartbeat begins to slow, so will the numbness you feel. The slight tingling will fizz out and soon your limbs will feel fine. It’s another step, another thing you have taken control of. You’re fighting but you’re winning. Now the sleep is gone from your head so the fogginess can’t hinder you, now you can get your thoughts in order. It doesn’t matter what woke you up, what matters is that you’re in this situation now. You have moved on from it and that’s another step. You can recognize what’s happening to you now, you can see that you’re having an episode of anxiety, and, hopefully, you can know that you will get through it. Your body won’t stay like this forever and sleep will come. There is absolutely no way that you won’t. Now, it’s a waiting game. An anxiety attack is like a child throwing a tantrum: they are doing everything they can to make you feel bad and they will not stop until they get their way. Or so they think. But if you just let them throw this tantrum, let them get that emotion and energy out, then soon enough, they’ll be calm again. They won’t even remember what they were upset about in the first place. Your body is doing the same thing. You can just wait it out. Sure, it may limit the sleep you will get tonight and that’s frustrating, but it’s definitely better than not having control. If you just wait, you will soon be in complete control again; your anxiety sulking back into whatever shadows it came from.
The feeling of absolute terror, when hit with a wave of anxiety, is almost indescribable. There is nothing like it and it’s something that we don’t wish anyone to feel. But even if they do, we know that they will be okay. Anxiety is just the bully who wants to be tougher than they really are. They don’t mean a thing to you and they’re just there to get in your way. But you won’t let that happen to you. You’re too strong for that. You can let them do their thing for a bit, but in the end, you’re the one in charge. In the end, anxiety is nothing compared to the powerhouse that is you.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]