Gasping for fresh air…

Mental illness presents itself in many different ways for different people. Some become completely isolated, some obsess about various tasks to keep themselves distracted. Some become reckless and unable to make clear decisions. Some turn to self harm as a way of coping. Mental illness is a different experience for everyone who suffers with it.

For me, when my anxiety is bad, I feel in permanent Fight or Flight mode. It feels like every single thing in the world is going to crash down on to me at any moment. It feels like every single person who passes me by is conspiring against me. To put it simply…I feel intensely afraid. I feel afraid to the point that my brain literally thinks it is fighting for my life.

Occasionally, my brain opts for the “Fight” response, and when this happens I find myself urgently defending myself from everyone close to me, putting my emotional guards up and throwing out defensive words all around me. I find myself using phrases like “Stop attacking me!”, or “I am an adult and I can do what I want to!”, or “Do not try to undermine me!”. All fairly reasonable phrases, right? Except when they are being used against people simply showing concern and love towards me… I find myself responding to slightly negative emails with a sometimes aggressive tone, in an urgent need to protect myself from criticism.

However, the more common response I tend to have is the dreaded “Flight” response. This manifests it’s way in to my rather wonky brain in many ways. Sometimes it is a simply case of avoidance. I avoid opening the front door, close the curtains, and ignore my phone for days on end. Other times I find myself literally wanting to run. I get a strong urge to get into the car, drive wherever I end up and start my life again. To tell no one where I am going, and on arrival to tell no one where I have been. To be a new person, with a brand new life. To leave behind everything I have ever experienced, and never to look back.

Of course, I do understand that this could never really cure my anxiety. It just doesn’t work like that sadly. However, this desperate feeling of being suffocated, trapped and bound by a life I never planned for myself often leaves me gasping for fresh air. I so desire the freedom that would come with not being known by anyone. By being somewhere brand new, where every step and encounter is a new experience. By recreating myself and being a totally different version of me. A version of me I wish I could be.

I find myself feeling this way an awful lot of late, possibly because I am feeling like I have no real control in my life right now. Things feel messy, and I feel overwhelmed.

I wonder, how does mental illness feel for you?

Thank you for reading.

Pixie

11 thoughts on “Gasping for fresh air…

  1. How appropriate to read your post after getting home from an experience where I also felt like I was gasping for air. I was at the dentist and the hygienist wasn’t very effective at suctioning. It kicked my anxiety into overdrive, and I felt like I was drowning. I started crying and hightailed it out of there. I guess at least the flight response was more acceptable than if I had flipped out at the hygienist. Small victories…

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    1. Darren, I am sorry to hear this resonates with you so much. It is such a difficult feeing to cope with when our mind and body constantly feel under attack, with no escape. My anxiety feels particularly brutal recently, and this “run away” urge is being very noisy! Hopefully it will calm soon. Sending a hug your way x

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  2. Hi Pixie, thanks so much for reading and following my blog! It means a lot! I really relate to a lot of what you’ve written here as well, especially lthe “every single thing is going to crash down on me every single moment” comment. I think I work to keep myself in front of these feelings, which can be exhausting, and i constantly worry that i won’t be strong and fast enough to outrun the negativity, so to speak. I also know what you mean by fight or flight, i get amazingly defensive when i’m feeling under the weather, and can get caught up on tiny unimportant details- don’t know if you know what i mean? I think i just thought a lot of this stuff was me being tetchy and hypersensitive- is kinda reassuring to know it’s not just me! Take care though, and look forward to reading more of your blog!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, and I am glad you enjoyed my post. I totally understand what you mean by getting caught up on small details. When I am really struggling, I often find myself dwelling and going over and over a minute detail of a conversation I have had, and massively over analysing it in my mind. I think it is really common for us to wonder if we are just being over sensitive, but I certainly find that I am far more sensitive when my anxiety is bad! So no, not just you! There are at least two of us who feel this way! Wishing you well x

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