***Trigger warning: If you are feeling fragile or struggling, this post might be triggering. I talk about intrusive thoughts.***
It was a lazy weekend afternoon. My daughters decided to build forts. They were crawling around with blankets over their head. The girls laughed and yelled all around me. It was a picture perfect moment of innocent childhood play until my anxiety started to suffocate me. All of a sudden, I felt that overwhelming sense of panic and dread. I made them stop, and I called my husband in for reinforcements. I could hardly articulate to my girls why I needed them to stop right away.
How do you tell your sweet girls that putting things over their heads is a major trigger for you? I whispered to my husband how triggering this was for me. I got out that all I could picture was my sweet babies with bags, pillows or blankets over their heads. I had strangled them with my own hands. Those thoughts came racing to the forefront of my mind again. The siren call of anxiety sounded again. I looked at my sweet girls who were laughing and dancing around me. I reiterated my mantra to myself. You are okay. Your husband is okay. Your girls are okay. Everyone is home and safe.
I used all my coping techniques. I breathed deeply. I kept repeating to myself that this was just my intrusive thoughts. I held my books and my phone to ground myself in what was tangible and real. The physical symptoms of a panic attack continued their assault on me. I ended up laying down and continuing to do deep breathing. Panic attacks exhaust me physically and mentally. I literally feel like I have run and escaped from a bogeyman who is chasing me. It takes me at least fifteen to twenty minutes for the physical symptoms to abate. I also used my anxiety medication to help dull that rising tide of panic. I finally was able to relax and enjoy the rest of my lazy weekend day. I know that I am not my thoughts, and that is a mantra that I use when I am triggered by a resurgence of my intrusive thoughts. It is rare that those intrusive thoughts appear anymore. I continue to make my health a priority by getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing other forms of self-care like yoga, singing, dancing and journaling.