“Go to your dresser. Open the middle drawer. Pick pants other than sweatpants. And repeat with a clean shirt.”
This is a typical conversation I will have with myself after suffering from a panic attack the previous night. Panic attacks leave me in an aftermath that sometimes is just as scary as the attack. All I can feel is numbness. It’s as if my motions slow down and if I am not aware of myself, I will just stay in a position for a long time like staring at myself brushing my teeth. As much as this is scary, I find it fascinating and extremely funny.
Rule one of post panic attacks is to not push myself otherwise I’ll end up where I started and likely that’s on the floor with an empty glass of green juice and mascara sprawled across my face. So after I managed to put on pants (what an accomplishment!) and a clean shirt (another moment worthy of a prize!), I made a pact myself that the goal of the day was to walk downtown to the bookstore and buy a book. A simple task for most, but to the anxious one this can be like climbing a mountain.
As I embarked on my journey, I decided to call my mother. She had stayed on the phone the entire time I panicked and I knew she would want to know that I had picked myself up off the floor. I love my mother. She knows me all too well. Before I even mentioned what I was doing, she said “Go be with the living.” I gritted my teeth because she was totally right, but I really wanted to be under my covers watching Gabby Bernstein lectures and eating butternut squash. “You know people are more depressed when they are isolated.” I was actually going to be very happy watching online spiritual lectures and learning new ways to cook kale under the covers, but I’ll go be in vicinity of other humans. “Call you later honey, go buy a green juice.” In fact “call you later” means “I love you, but hopefully you’ll have such a great day, that I won’t have to call you unless I get alarming messages of panic.”
Rule two of post panic attacks is to do something nice for yourself, which in today’s case was buy a book. I absolutely love reading, but it’s usually focused on ASSET-related information; mindfulness, science of exercise, spirituality. I needed to buy a downright stupid book. And I did. Perfecto.
And because I got out of bed, put on pants other than sweats, did my makeup, ate avocado toast, called my mother, walked downtown, bought a book, I deserved a gluten-free, vegan, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie fresh from the farmer’s market.
Those two hours felt like an entire frickin’ day. Who knew a trip to the bookstore could be so exhausting? Damn those florescent lights, I blame them. Though I still wanted to climb under my covers, I chose not to. I chose to do what’s best for me. Sometimes doing what’s best for ourselves may feel like we are doing the hardest thing in the world.
I wrote this post because we all have mountains we have to climb internally. Mine is an anxiety disorder. And although it’s a pain in the ass, it’s the funniest best gift I could ever ask for. I think we all need to appreciate what makes us unique and embrace that. And most importantly, we need to do nice things for ourselves. Go do something you normally wouldn’t do. For me, it was getting a stupid book. Life is meant to be enjoyed even in our darkest hours.