Things I did when I had a panic attack at work.

I am sitting at work and I can’t breathe and keep imagining smashing my laptop screen onto my desk. These are not feelings I like, words I want to share or thoughts I enjoy. I’m trying to observe them though, because mindfulness is a nice concept. It’s a challenge, because my inclination is to judge those feelings, and tell myself that healthy, sober, yogis-in-training do not want to scream at the top of their lungs at their cubicle walls because they feel raw and un-tethered. But here we are, friends.

You know that feeling when you see someone out of the corner of your eye and you jump, because you didn’t think anyone was there? That is how I feel sometimes when anxiety shows up. Where did you come from? You weren’t here, 5 minutes ago. Suddenly, I am certain that my body has forgotten to take inhales on its own.  So what do you do? Like, in that exact moment? Here’s what I’ve tried today:

  1. Tea. This resulted in a long conversation with a coworker who wanted to argue that herbal tea is not tea. Not today, man. Thankfully, I had thrown a bunch of chamomile tea in my bag last week. Thanks, last-week-me.

Did this help? Yes. Hot water is magic. I would prefer a bath, but will settle for tea.

  1. A scone. I’m trying a new thing. I’m all about quitting stuff (I’ll write all about uCalorie counting may be fine for some people, but for people like me, who cling to things that they can control, it isn’t great. When I’m stressed, I don’t eat. Being healthy is fine, while basing your self-worth on your caloric intake is not. Eating food is good and nourishing your body is good. Equating constant low-level hunger with a positive body image is, what’s the term? Fucked up? Yeah. That’s the one. So, after weeks of planning and doubting, I stopped counting. I’m trying this whole new thing where I just trust myself and eat when I’m hungry. It makes me feel extra vulnerable, like I’m riding on top of a helicopter, hanging onto whatever piece of helicopter sticks out and could serve as a handle. So I tried eating because I felt like I might need a scone.

Verdict: Yeah, I needed a scone.

  1. Breathing. Here’s what I just learned about breathing exercises: Sometimes they don’t work after 1, 2 or 5 minutes. There are special times (i.e. real freakouts) when you have to keep doing it, focusing on your breath, riding that anxiety out. Patience isn’t exactly easy in these moments, but maybe I can keep that in mind for next time.

Verdit: Yes. But it was annoying because it didn’t work right away. Just being honest.

  1. Writing. Oh, well this helped. I feel antsy still, but I feel like I can get back to work, and get through the day. Maybe I’ll try this first, the next time.

That’s all I’ve got.



PS: The new Run the Jewels album, a touch too loud, in my headphones also helps.

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