I lay down and my heartbeat increases as the thoughts begin to tumble uncontrollably. Like the balls in that spinning cage, at a bingo hall, each waiting to be plucked and used to torture me in the late night hours. Sometimes the thoughts are made up of things I cannot change, moments I cannot repeat and fights I’ll never win. Other times, the thoughts fall morbid and titter on disturbing, when my anxiety kicks in and the ‘what if’ game begins.
The images of a blazing fire flashes through my mind and my children’s screams echo as I imagine the worse of situations. What if I couldn’t reach them? What if I don’t smell the smoke in time? What if I don’t hear the alarm? I cry in the night, lying wide awake, frozen with fear. Afraid that shutting my eyes could result in the death of my children. Contemplated trimming the roof in fire-alarms, from one end to another as if that wouldn’t be overkill.
On the nights it storms, I lay worrying about the trees that surround our home. I worry about tornadoes ripping through the house and lifting my children away. My screams fill my head as I imagine watching chunks of their rooms being ripped from the house. Pictures of their scared faces plastered on my mental walls, pushing my breathing to become labored. I consider moving into an underground bunker. After all, at this rate, however will we survive?
If it’s not a fire or a tornado, then it’s kidnappers luring them from their windows. I feel confident they’d fight but what if they didn’t? What if they just left? If it’s not being kidnapped than surely they’ll be murdered in their sleep by the despicable intruders. Thoughts of waking to silence and walking into their rooms to discover pools of blood and bodies only recognizable by size, I sob into the night, chest burning and tight.
Occasionally, thoughts of my husband pop into my head and vivid images of his truck crashing, plays like a movie. I watch from accident scene, up to the police on my door step, delivering the news of his demise. In my mind’s eye I fall to the ground, screaming and pounding my fists. In reality, I lay in bed with an aching gut. Fighting back the urge to vomit while trying to force myself to focus on anything else, in hopes the hyperventilating doesn’t begin.
Unfortunately for me, I’m never lacking in scenarios. It’s something I’ve always done and by default, have become the master of. I can remember being in bed as a child, sobbing into my pillow as I imagined the death of family members I held near and dear. Some nights the swirl of thoughts is overwhelming but I mark any night without a panic attack, as a win. I’ve found many ways to ease the roll of thoughts and hold off the panic attacks, most times. Thankfully that brings the win column to outweigh the lose but that doesn’t stop the cycle from being exhausting and down right, stressful!
Why am I telling you this? Well, because anxiety and even depression, can have many effects on our lives. It can cause some pretty out-there thoughts and feelings. Things that can make us feel anything from crazy to worthless but it’s important that we remember that both those feelings and thoughts are fleeting. If we give it time, it will pass. When you feel yourself sliding into those thoughts, take a moment to pause. Take a few deep breaths, recognize the negative thought pattern and replace with positives. Sometimes ours thoughts have a way of taking off on their own rocky paths, but its up to us to recognize those moments and learn how to veer back on course.