Vancouver, BC | September 28, 2017
Wow, I never thought I would think that, much less say (okay type) it out loud. But it’s true. Today I’m grateful for my anxiety.
I’m not talking about sweaty palms in an interview or refreshing your bank account to see if the check has cleared. I’m talking the gut wrenching, never-wish-upon-anyone type of anxiety that makes it seem like the world is ending.
I don’t talk about my dance with the anxiety devil often, but there have been times in my life in which it controlled my every move. Usually around great moments of transition or heartbreak I’m found mentally depleted. I’ve tried all the fixes and therapy, all of which helped, but none of which stuck around long term.
Most of the time I push those nights of gasping for air mid-anxiety attack away from my mind, because it’s too hard to relive. To be so far removed from what caused my heart pain, and to remember how much it affected me… It makes me feel weak.
But not today. No, today it came to the rescue.
I was deplaning a flight at the end of my work day in Houston, when I saw one of our passengers crouched just outside the door. She was having trouble breathing. I fell to my knees in front of her as my flying partner dashed to grab oxygen.
“Where does it hurt?” I asked.
She pressed her index and middle finger into the middle of her chest, then struggled to reach behind her back and touch the same spot. She couldn’t form words, and her breath was uncontrolled.
After we gave her oxygen, I began to try to ask what sort of medical history she had. The other flight attendants suggested things like heart attacks or stroke, all of which she denied. That’s when it hit me-
“Anxiety?” I suggested.
She fiercely nodded with strength I didn’t know was still in her. Immediately I moved closer and clasped my hands around her upper arms.
“I have been here before,” I said, “and I know it seems scary, but you’re going to be okay-”
“Look at me, breath with me, we can do this together…”
I felt like someone was putting those words in my mouth. Thankfully she was eventually able to slow her heart rate and stabilize before the paramedics showed up. Both of my flying partners thanked me for stepping in and remaining so calm.
But now I’m sitting in my hotel pondering, how in the hell did I stay so calm?!
“You were talking to yourself Kate,” my mind says, almost laughing at it’s realization. “You were telling that woman all the things you have tried to convince yourself all these years. Now you’re finally believing it”
A big grin slides across my face.
Now in my heart I understand why it’s important to challenge our demons. In my weakest times, I would’ve given anything for a break from my own mind. It was hard to believe peace existed anymore. The wrinkle between my eyes would fade with fallen sleep, but reinvigorate the second I woke again.
I’ve hated myself for my anxiety, but not today. No, today it helped me connect with a woman who just needed to breathe. Tears clouded her eyes and I saw in them a reflection of my own. Being able to guide another person through their pain singlehandedly erased every day I’ve spent regretting mine.
We rise, we fall, we lift each other up. There’s no greater purpose than that.
Until next time friends ❤
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