Strength has a vulnerable side. It can waver and weaken but still maintain its elasticity. Strength isn’t a harden inflexible oak, it can bend and then regain its stability.
Yesterday I flew back home to the states from my Mexico trip. It was a busy day with two flights.
On the second flight from Mexico City to the Midwest, I watched the movie The Children Act starring Emma Thomson and Stanley Tucci. It is an intense film about life, marriage, dying and suppressed emotion.
Toward the end of the film, for reasons deeply buried in my unconscious, I started to have a panic attack. My pulse began its steady but willful climb up its scales and my logical brain, secured in my prefrontal cortex, couldn’t stop it, it pushed right past it and continued its climb up.
I tried my breathing techniques, visualization of my calm safe place, then other calm safe places, but the adrenaline was already careening through my system and there was no stopping it. I felt the urge to run but being stuck on an airplane between two men in the middle seat didn’t afford me the opportunity to do so.
That anxiety ride that makes me feel like my own body has been hijacked wouldn’t dissipate, so I reached for my Xanax.
I try not to rely on the medicinal depressant but when my body and unconscious decide to become sprinters and my prefrontal cortex has been shoved to the ground like an overpowered child, I unscrew the cap and take one.
I threw it in my mouth, downed the remainder of my water, closed my eyes, concentrated on my breathing, and slowly and rhythmically tapped my thighs. My heart rate slowed to its predictable beat and the anxiety attack passed.
Before, I would have chastised myself for being weak and needing to take the Xanax, but I have evolved. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder with panic attack disorder. That is my diagnosis, and I am improving. And, as part of my manageable condition, there are times I need extra help, some medication to get me through the hard times. It takes strength to admit our fragility.
And, I’m okay with that.