A couple days ago I had a hardcore anxiety attack--the first one I've had in a very long time--and I think I know why it happened.
I had planned a self care day on Friday. My body and mind have been feeling so taxed, and I thought it would be nice to try some new methods of healing. I booked an appointment with an acupuncturist at the yoga/acupuncture clinic down the road. I've never had acupuncture, but I heard that it's helpful in terms of healing from trauma as well as great for physical pain and sinusitis (all of which I've been trying to manage). I had a terrible sleep the night before and was feeling extremely ungrounded. I really wasn't feeling up to it, but I convinced myself to go to my appointment because it was going to be good for me.
On the walk down to my appointment, I felt scared, exhausted and overwhelmed, but I kept on walking. It was going to be good for me.
Upon entering the studio, I was welcomed by two friendly women who worked there. One took my payment, then explained the process. She asked me to take off my boots and hang up my jacket, then she poured me a cup of herbal tea. She asked if I could roll my jeans up over my knees and I said no, so she gave me an on-loan pair of yoga pants. That immediately took me out of any comfort zone that I was attempting to develop, but I thought I would just go along with it, get changed and try to ground myself. As I sat in the waiting area, sipping my tea and reading the pamphlets about community acupuncture, I began to feel completely out of place.
I knew that there would be others in the room because I read about it on the website, but being there at the studio, seeing others walking around barefoot in yoga pants seeming at peace, made me realize how far from that I was. On top of that, I kept hearing OMMMMMMMMMMMMM from the room behind me, and it was freaking me out. I wish that I were in a place where those sounds and those people could help me find peace and open up to a new way of being, but I felt completely closed off.
I tried hard to focus on my breathing and to keep drinking my tea, but I began to have a coughing fit. Then I started to feel extremely anxious about my coughing and became paranoid about how others would perceive me, and how my energy was quite the opposite of relaxing and was likely disturbing others who were trying to heal and enjoy their space.
My heart was racing and I felt like I couldn't breathe. My throat was closing up. I knew then that I had to leave. My mind was fighting me every step of the way as I retreated into the bathroom and changed back into my jeans, but I knew that I had to listen to my body and keep myself safe.
As I exited the bathroom, I was met by the kind woman from the front desk who said "and here is your new patient" to another woman. I said "I'm sorry, I have to go." Both of the women were empathetic when I explained what was happening, and the acupuncturist even mentioned how acupuncture can help with all of those things. But I just wasn't ready. I thanked them for their time and said that it just wasn't going to work for me today. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. The woman offered a refund, and as it was processing she asked if it was something they said or did that made me feel uncomfortable. I felt awful. They were quite wonderful, really. It was me. I explained that I was working on processing some trauma, and how I thought this would help me on my road to recovery, but I just wasn't ready. At this point I could barely talk because I couldn't breathe. The woman was so kind and even said that she was glad I trusted my intuition.
As soon as I walked around the corner outside, I burst into tears. I put my umbrella up even though the rain had stopped and used it as a shield. I cried all the way home. Cried and hyperventilated. I stopped on a street nearby and worked on catching my breath. I paused at the free library you see in the image above. The message on the door rang true. I need time to step away from things for a while. I need to allow space to grieve and to rest. The healing will be a process, but right now I just need to sit and listen to what my body is trying to tell me.
There will come a time when stepping out of my comfort zone will be essential to my recovery and quite necessary in terms of working toward my goals, but right now is not the time. It's hard to accept that, because we often want to better things immediately and make those big changes that will launch us into a new chapter, but I need to accept where I am right now and know that the time will come when I will be able to do all that. I need to trust that I can and will accomplish the things I desire to do in good time. For the past several months, and especially in the past few weeks, I've felt a pressure to get things done that I've never felt before. An urgency. But I have to trust that I will have the time I need. That it will be ok.
I recently started reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, and I think it's making me more aware of the messages my body is trying to send me. Trauma and painful emotions get stored in the body, and ignoring the signals will only make things worse. Clearly. I mean, I was literally just reading this book the night before my appointment, and still attempted to ignore the messages. But it's ok that I did. It's not as though I'm going to change overnight. It sure would be nice, though.
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!