A year ago I was out to eat for my birthday lunch with my coworkers and in the middle of the meal I went to the bathroom and threw it all up. I remember very clearly looking in the mirror and thinking “This is not normal. There is something very wrong with me.” That’s when I decided that I needed to do something. I didn’t want to have another birthday like that ever again. That’s when the research began and the diagnosis was made and I started on my journey. So it’s a year of reflection for me, to think of everything that I have learned.
However today I am struggling. There has been anticipatory anxiety for a few days about today because I know it’s a big day potentially for my anxiety. Part of me feels like I should not have a panic attack because then I can prove to myself that I have accomplished something. Part of me is worried what it will mean if I do have a panic attack. All this pressure is making me very anxious. I woke up with it. I am feeling it right now, even after taking a Clonozapam. I thought it would be fun to go take pictures of the fall scenery today so I mentioned it to my coworkers and now we will go and do it but last time we went I panicked so that has me worried.
It’s no fun. Birthdays are supposed to be a happy day celebrating you. So on the way to work this morning I started listening to my recordings I have made of some positive affirmations. I have already decided not to do a big meal because I don’t want to push myself and I don’t want to deal with it today. However because I am still so nervous and anxious, I feel that I need to talk myself through it now.
Q: What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?
A: Today is a panic day and I usually throw up on a day like today. I should be cautious so that I don’t panic. If I do panic than that means I am back where I was a year ago and I haven’t learned anything. Then the worrier comes in: What if I start out ok but then they go to get food or the panic comes on very quickly like it did last time? What if I get sick?
Now I will address these worries:
If the worse case scenario came true and I had a panic attack today, I would be just fine. I don’t have to be all better today just because I want to be. I can take as small a step forward as I choose. I can’t force the growth. If I did panic, no one would think badly of me, not even myself. If I decided that I wouldn’t go shooting with my coworkers after all, then that’s ok because it’s my birthday and I should do what I want on my birthday.
If I get sick today than so what! If they pass judgment on me what’s the worst that could happen? People are going to not like me or think ill of me no matter how “perfect” I might try to be. So I should stop trying to please them and do what I want, because I’m the one that has to be happy or miserable. If they want to go shooting and I decide not to go, I could tell them, “You know, I changed my mind, I am not feeling well and I have a lot of work to do. I better stay back, but you can go.” Or I could say “Do you mind if we go after you guys eat lunch? I am not feeling well and I would rather go when I don’t have the smells in the way.” And it might sound awkward but what’s the worst that could happen? They could again pass judgment on me but I have to learn that it’s their problem if they think ill of me, not mine and that I am being me which is the most important thing! If I feel sick and I don’t want to eat, than don’t eat. My body will tell me when it is hungry and there is no need to push myself. If I am feeling anxious and I don’t want to go than don’t go.
Positive Affirmation: There is no need to push myself. I don’t have to be all better today.
A lightbulb just went off for me as I wrote this post. Today isn’t about pushing myself to prove that I can face my fears and not panic, proving to myself that I am somehow “cured”. It’s about creating a birthday that is happy and anxious free so that next year I can reflect back on how it’s possible to have a good birthday. Then maybe I won’t be so scared of them.