I had an anxiety attack at work on Friday. People (who know me) probably have a hard time believing that I even have anxiety/panic attacks. When it happens to me it’s not noticeable unless you are staring right at me, are in mid conversation with me, or are attuned to the signs of one, (which is hard because everyone’s anxiety attacks look different). I don’t have them very often and I do not freak out or make a big scene. Some people do.
We had an all staff meeting in the morning, I got here at the same time as always (10 min early) and took my seat one chair in from the end of an empty row. Being new at the job I had not experienced an all staff meeting before, but I could tell from the way they had the chairs set up that it may not be the most comfortable thing for me. It started out fine as the two girls that sat on either side of me are two that take the time to talk to me (maybe they’re even trying to get to know me?) and the rest of the empty chairs slowly filled in. The Program Director started the meeting with welcoming everyone and introducing new staff (aka…me). I didn't have to do anything more than raise my arm for people to see me…I was okay with that. A few minutes later it happened.
I got sweaty, my heart was beating so hard I thought it was going to pop right out of my chest, my palms and my feet got sweaty and I felt like I was in a twilight zone. It didn't last but 30 seconds to one minute, but it felt like an eternity and left me exhausted when I was back in reality. I don’t know what triggered it but if I had to guess I would say it was the uncomfortable setting. I’m starting to think that my generalized anxiety is growing into something more as this is the second time I’ve panicked in a room full of people. I've never minded crowds before so this is something entirely new to me. I do not like it.
After thinking about this over the weekend I saw an article online about what anxiety attacks look like, or how you know if you’re having one. I wish I could find the article again because it really summarized my experience on Friday. Anxiety can feel and be different to each person. It is not the same in everyone and there is a huge scale of it. I started out with what I considered major anxiety. Eventually I learned how to deal with it and would say it was minimal. Over the last year or so I can tell that it has progressively gotten a bit more frequent. I have gotten a little bit better at knowing when there is something that is likely to give me anxiety and abstaining from that if possible.
I still have a lot to learn about myself but I am confident that if I continue to pay attention to things I can continue to win this fight!