I have anxiety.
Probably means I get stressed, right? A little nervous? Maybe an occasional panic attack?
I’m not sure when I developed anxiety. I didn’t have an anxious childhood. It was chaotic. There was plenty of upheaval. But, we learned to get through it. Kids are resilient, right? As a kid, not much scared me.
Somewhere during the course of growing up, I developed anxiety.
My mother has anxiety. Her’s came on late in life too. I’m her biological child. (An important distinction in a family built through adoption.) Will my issues follow hers? Has she laid a roadmap that I will invariably experience? Or, are we each a little crazy in our own way?
I’ve had two episodes especially that I remember anxiety becoming almost overwhelming. Both involved airplanes. I like planes. I’ve been all over the world for business, pleasure and adoptions. I don’t get nervous on a plane. Why? Because if something is going to happen to the plane there is nothing I can do from seat 23F. Why worry then?
That’s a great sentiment; like telling someone to calm down they are acting irrationally. That ALWAYS works, right?
I was in seat 23F one time, or there abouts, and we were sitting on the tarmac waiting to taxi out and on to our destination. Someone mentioned there was a plane on fire. Not OUR plane, fortunately. But, a plane elsewhere at the airport. It was not an emergency, although the airport firetrucks were dealing with it. The problem was that I couldn’t see it. From my seat I couldn’t manage to get the angle right. The window and the seatback were in the way.
And I REALLY wanted to see. I needed to see. It was VERY IMPORTANT THAT I SEE!!! I had to take a breath. I had to convince myself that I didn’t really need to see. That my life wasn’t going to be changed if I could see the plane or not. I was successful. . .mostly.
The second time I had a full on panic attack. It was years after the first episode. In fact, I didn’t even remember the first episode when the second occurred. And the second time there was no fire. In fact there was nothing out of the ordinary at all. I got on the plane. It was a big plane, as I remember. I was in a center section of seats, on the aisle. And I suddenly needed off. . .RIGHT NOW!
It made no sense. There was nothing wrong. I was safely in my seat. The doors were closed. We were all set.
And I couldn’t control my breathing. I was terrified, and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t name my fear so I couldn’t contain it. I couldn’t control it. It took everything I had to stay in that seat. To try to take deep breaths. I took some Benadryl and hoped it would have a calming effect. It worked. . .eventually.
I’ve never been a big fan of drugs. I think they are useful. And I’ve seen them have amazing things. I take drugs for my anxiety. I have one set of drugs for long term anxiety. I recently added a second set of drugs for short term anxiety. By that I mean that one type is more effective when taken for a long time. The second drug is more effective for calming anxiety that I might have right now.
I read an article today that said that meditation has been found to be as effective as drugs for anxiety. That’s probably true. But, I think about that time on the airplane when I couldn’t control my breathing. Not sure how I would be able to meditate.
There may be a time I no longer take drugs for anxiety. I hope so. But, in the meantime, I’d rather take drugs than sit on a perfectly safe airplane and for an unknown, unknowable reason feel a compelling urge to get out.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here
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