Horizontal panic.

I’m going to share a personal story that has to do with extreme anxiety. I have learned that this type of post can trigger anxiety in others. So, if that statement resonates with you please go read another blog and come back later in the week.

A year ago I could do little more than lay on a couch and breathe while my mind kept repeating the many ways I was about to die. My heart pounded while adrenaline pumped through my system. Sweat dripped down my forehead and neck so much that my hair was wet. And despite my efforts, it was difficult to believe anything other than I was going to be dead soon. Every minute was surely to be my last.

In search of calm I played meditations over and over again following the breathing exercise instructions until, hopefully, I fell asleep. Then I’d wake up to a voice telling me I had cancer or my heart was about to stop. It was the worst kind of flywheel you can imagine. This went on for almost three weeks until newly prescribed medications started to kick in and provide relief.

Eventually, I was able to stay upright and get a few things done, but on occasion, a thought would enter my consciousness kicking my heart rate up, sending a little drip of adrenaline down my spine—inducing an immediate clammy feeling on my neck. I had to stop whatever I was doing and start to breathe—in for four seconds, hold for four, and exhale for six. I learned this from an old friend who had battled extreme anxiety his whole life. He said it was the best thing you can do during a panic attack.

The attacks continued for the next three months, but their severity and frequency diminished over time. At the end of it all, I felt normal but forever changed. I do not doubt that without the support of She Who Exudes Love, Care, and Kindness, I would not be here today. Her overwhelming support through it all gave me the slightest bit of hope that the thoughts in my head were wrong.

Working through recovery has been a year-long journey of reflection and learning to look forward again while staying in the present. Stoicism has taught me that anxiety lives in the past and in the future. We are not meant to dwell on either for too long.

I don’t know that it’s helpful to share what I think brought all of this on but I have come out of this with clarity on the need for healthier personal and work relationships. Before the events of last year, I spent five years enduring a lot of other people’s bullshit and toxicity. After a string of super fucked up events, I woke up in October 2022 feeling nothing but constant despair and it broke my body.

In addition to my amazing wife, I had family and friends who also helped me get through it all. I am extremely appreciative of their patience and support. I’m in a much better place today because of all of you.

I’m putting this out there for no reason other than I need to get this off my shoulders. Shit went down, I went down, and with the help of others I got up. And I can let this anniversary go now.