Panic always passes

In my long intimacy with anxiety and its hulking silent sibling, depression, I learned one very important thing: panic always passes.

I saw some pieces at the beginning of the pandemic about how this was introvert time, and while some people prone to anxiety would of course find it unsettling, for many all that time in lockdown was validation. The world really was scary this time and so all that anxiety was, for once, not just in my head. Or not just in my head.

There was something else I noticed, for myself at least. I'd been training my whole life for this sort of thing. All those breathing exercises. All that exposure. All that cognitive restructuring. Same tools, different prompts.

I worry a lot that there's wisdom that I won't get to pass on to my children. Something that I might say that will help them out of a tight spot or soothe their thoughts when beset by anxiousness later on. It's a reflex, as they're not so old that days of dependence are yet filed away in the unreachable past.

Maybe they won't need that nugget.

But if you do, remember, panic always passes.

When I was in college, at the real height of the panic attacks, there was one night where I was paralyzed on the floor of my apartment and for the better part of an hour the panic just washed over me. I don't know why I just lay there. I think maybe I thought that if I let it do it's thing then I would purge it from my body like the chills when you have a cold. It would sweat its way out and then I might be rid of it.

It didn't work that way of course, though eventually I emerged. Even after those hours, locked on the floor, terrified, it passed.

There's a phenomenon whereby people with anxiety sometimes find themselves feeling very calm when in the presence of other people's panic. This happens to me all the time. When other people are freaking out, I can be calm. Maybe it's because it makes panic something detached form me. It gets me outside my head. Maybe I'm just a sadist and I become calm when other people are suffering. Maybe it's the caring instinct that kicks in and overrides the fear. I don't know, but it serves well in a lot of arenas. People are often shocked to hear about anxiety's unseemly love affair with me. They don't see that the calm only emerges because they need help, because there's a focus outside myself.

To my kids, because the curse is, in part, genetic; or at least its likelihood is, I say again. The panic always passes.

And on the other side, you can appreciate what you took for granted all the more.

#100DaysToOffload #anxiety #advice