Skip to main content

"Fight or Flight"

Quote on anxiety: This is one of the most frustrating things about having an anxiety disorder; knowing as you're freaking out that there's no reason to be freaked out. But lacking the ability to shut the emotion down. <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a>

My heart is beginning to race. I start shuffling from one foot to the other. Don't cry - just breathe. I said, don't cry! Breathe. Now my heart is beating fast. Just concentrate. Breathe. Don't cry. I catch my mom's eye. "I am having an anxiety attack," I whisper. I whisper when I want to yell.

It's 10:15 am on Saturday morning and we are at the gym in the middle of a training session. I am in a safe place, with friends and family, doing something that always makes me feel better when I am experiencing depression. Except for today. And this is not depression. This is anxiety in all its glory.

I last fifteen minutes before I make for the door. I quietly, because I am embarrassed, explain that I need to leave. I spend the next fifteen minutes in my car, sobbing. Watching people around me going about their Saturday morning errands as if nothing is wrong; as if today is any other Saturday. Me, with tears running down my cheeks. It doesn't feel like any other Saturday.

If you have never experienced an anxiety attack it must be very difficult to imagine what one feels like and how they occur. They are often completely irrational, although, unlike with depression (in my personal experience), they can easily be triggered by stress (at work or in your personal life) or as a result of a situation (for me, that is when I find myself in small, loud spaces). 

As has often been said, the mind and body are one. What you experience in your brain will impact your body. Here are some common symptoms for anxiety. And yes, I have experienced them all.

physical symptoms of anxiety
After my anxiety attack (also commonly referred to as a panic attack), I was hungry and exhausted. I spent the afternoon sleeping and cancelled my plans for the evening. Coincidentally, I was supposed to be at a mental health fundraiser tonight. If there is anything that you can feel OK about when you have to cross off your 'must do' list, it's attending a mental health event when you need to put your mental health first. 

And yet, even after all these years, the guilt that I carry when I cancel something is a heavy weight. My health is my priority, as it should be. However, I still worry that people view me as flaky or unreliable. When you have mental illness, your inner dialogue can be particularly cruel. It can be hard to turn the volume down some days.

31 Secrets of People Who Live With Anxiety:

I share this experience for the same reason that I share all of my experiences: for greater understanding of disorders that remain so stigmatized. Please, no sympathy - do not feel sorry for me. I often find myself waging a battle against chronic illness but so do many other people in this world. And yet I find myself a little bit mad for feeling embarrassed earlier today. So maybe this is also a little bit for me. Maybe it's a little bit about learning to let go of my own self stigma. Maybe we can fight this battle together.

KB xo


  1. Thank you for sharing Kristin!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I know that sharing helps others, always. I know the self stigma piece well. I am still on the mend from a major depressive episode and there are times when I feel bad about not working full days, or just feel bad in general. I, like you, am working on fighting the stigma battle. I have a pencil with a super hero cape. I use that to remind myself that anyone fighting the stigma battle is a super hero... you and me included in that. It works sometimes.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Not Just Sad"

I was recently reminded how depression is still largely misunderstood. I was speaking with someone about mental illness and this person began to tell me about a friend who has depression. She said that she told this friend, "Don't be so sad. You have lots of great things in your life to be happy about." I could tell that she cares about her friend and truly felt that she was helping her to place things into perspective. Frankly, this is a horrible thing to say to someone in the grips of depression.
Telling a person with a mental illness to not be 'sad' because they have so many great things to be happy about is exactly the same as telling a person who has cancer to not feel the physical pain because they have "so many great things to be happy about." Exactly the same thing. 
It made my heart hurt knowing that this woman's friend is not being supported in a truly understanding, empathetic way. And I get it - I really do. People just don't unders…

"Golden Repair"

A person who has a mood disorder often feels broken, sometimes irreparably so. At times we know that what we are experiencing is fleeting and it will go away; the darkness will recede and we will once again feel whole. Sometimes it is more difficult to believe that the light will return at all.
This is on my mind a lot lately. In the last week alone I have had three anxiety attacks and my mood and anxiety have been very off for the last few weeks.
After two decades of living with recurring depression and anxiety I accept that what I have is a chronic illness - it is never far from my mind when I am well. I approach each day and week with this in mind and I always have a game plan. What is in my calendar at work? Do I have a few days with back to back meetings and little downtime to work quietly at my desk? Is my social calendar too full or just right? If I do this thing on Tuesday will I be exhausted on Wednesday? How will that impact the rest of my week? How will I ensure that I eat…

"How to Not Lose Your Mind Over the Holidays"

I have something to tell you, a tiny secret. Come closer. Here it is: not everyone loves Christmas. There. I said it.
If you were to believe everything that you read and watch on TV, you would think that December is four weeks of sheer happiness. For many people, it's four weeks of ridiculously high expectations, stress, low mood and high anxiety. In the weeks leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah we are inundated with reminders that we need to spend more money, buy that perfect gift, host the perfect holiday party, and on and on. Add to that poor weather and reduced sunlight and you can easily slip into depression. Even if you truly do love the holiday season and everything is going great in your world, stress is still there.
I used to be one of those people who LOVED Christmas - everything about it. I planned and hosted a big holiday party for my friends every year. I searched high and low for the absolute, most perfect gifts for my family and friends, and usually started shoppi…