Sunday, May 12, 2013

Facing the Darkness

When the first wave hit me, I was almost unprepared. Though I shouldn't have been. Instantly, I began to sweat. I tried to calm myself down. Controlled breathing can be helpful, but it didn't work this time. Every time I thought it might be over, it started again.

I signalled Ludwig what was going on and that I had the feeling I couldn't take it anymore. He listened and calmly talked to me. The communication helped me to focus and to believe that I could make it through. But then another stroke hit target and another one and another one. My whole body was covered with sweat and I was shaking uncontrollably. Several times I started crying. For a moment I thought that this might be going on for the rest of my life and that I might be losing my sanity.

And then it was over. I don't know how long it lasted exactly, maybe one hour. Afterwards I was totally exhausted, my body still shaking. I told Ludwig that I could manage alone now, though. For a while I listened to some music and eventually laid myself to sleep again. It was about 6 o'clock in the morning.

I hate anxiety attacks. My experience with them surely is one reason why I don't want to be pushed over the edge in my spanking play and why I don't seek any loss of control (at least not in the context of dark scenarios). I think accompanying someone during such an experience is much more difficult than leading a spanking scene as a top. The basic dilemma is quite similar, though. One can try to offer a safe environment as well as encouragement, but ultimately it is the one experiencing the situation who has to deal with the challenge and make it through. In contrast to a top in a spanking scene, someone accompanying another person during a panic attack doesn't even have the power to control or stop the process, though. That's what makes it much more challenging.

I have experienced (luckily not very many) anxiety attacks on a few different occasions in my life, for instance when I started living on my own or after my mum had died. I know the background, the triggers and that the feeling of anxiety becomes less frequent and finally disappears once I get used to a new situation. The important thing is that running away is not an option. Trying to reduce the pressure – yes, taking good care of oneself – most certainly, but avoiding certain life challenges because of the fear only reduces one's personal freedom in life and makes it all the worse.

Right now I have to deal with new challenges caused by several current and upcoming major changes, and the fact that I was very tired and exhausted and Ludwig was going to leave the next day led to the recent anxiety attack. Ludwig did the only right thing to do, though. He left the next day as planned, but offered to be there on the phone, should I need someone to talk. We both know that I have to face my anxiety on my own if I want to quickly get back in control again. This is how I handled previous situations like this one as well. Which is not to say that support from family and friends and maybe even professional help to find out more about the background and the triggers when the anxiety first comes up isn't important to have. Still, no one can take away my fears. Only I can.

The "trick" is to go through the situation and to confront the anxiety, to adjust the elements that can be changed and to accept and get used to those parts of the challenge that can not or from a long-term perspective should not be changed. Again there is a parallel to spanking. A very severe scene can easily break a bottom who is unprepared and starts panicking, having the feeling of not being able to take it. But, if one manages to adjust some parameters to fit one's personal limits and if one gets used to the intensity of the strokes and begins to believe that one can take them, even a severe, painful beating can be a very empowering experience.

When Ludwig left, it wasn't easy for me. I couldn't eat more than just a few bites that day. But we had a wonderful walk (physical exercise is crucial when fighting a depressive mood) during which we talked about our future which gave me a new perspective and hope. I managed to send Ludwig on his way without shedding a tear. Even though I neither slept very well nor very long, I made it through the following night without calling Ludwig. We only exchanged e-mails because he arrived at home very late at night and we only talked on the phone more than 24 hours after Ludwig had left. Despite of my physical state, I also managed to fulfill all my job duties and I didn't have another anxiety attack since then. I am proud of this because it tells my that all the work that I put into learning to know myself and my needs better finally starts paying off. I will most probably have to deal with anxiety time and again for my whole life. But chances are good that we are only talking about certain (and hopefully short) periods here.

After my anxiety attack the night before he left, Ludwig mused that for some "daddy" tops the idea of taking care of such a shaky, tearful, helpless-looking bundle like me at that time surely would have a great appeal. To be honest, I am happy that Ludwig is not one of those tops. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if my vulnerability in such a moment has a certain appeal for Ludwig and I don't mind if it awakens his protective instincts. But I am glad that Ludwig is the kind of guy who understands that I have to stand up for myself and confront my fears and that I should not rely on him to take care of everything for me in such a situation. I don't need a white knight in shining armour who solves the issue for me. I need a companion who helps me put on my own armour and improve my own fighting techniques. I think that's a huge challenge because in my view, men are usually trained to "solve" a problem rather than remaining passive and lending an ear for difficult and long talks.

Ludwig willingly accepts that challenge, though, and I am both very lucky and glad to have a man like him. I am also happy that I am feeling better right now. But I am aware that the fears will most probably come back from time to time during the upcoming months. If that happens, it will feel like the darkness is going to last forever. But it won't. And one day the anxiety related to the current situation will be gone for good. I hope that day will be soon and I am confident that I can make it happen.

In the meantime you might hear a bit less from me since I am extremely busy and sometimes rather tired. Ludwig offered to support me by blogging more regularly, which will be great for the blog. I already very much enjoyed his post about the prisoner's dilemma.

Apart from that, all that can be done is laughing about certain aspects of this situation. Because some of the ideas on how to deal with anxiety attacks are actually really hilarious if one imagines that one would follow them in a public environment, for instance at work. For example, one advice is to touch an object that has a pleasurable and soothing haptics. I couldn't help imagining what co-workers might think of a business colleague who suddenly starts cuddling and petting a stuffed animal at work! Another advice which made Ludwig and me laugh: Turn on some music, clap your hands to the rhythm of the beat and sing along. Doesn't that sound like a great advice for a business meeting?

The truth is, anxiety sucks. But a good laugh is what makes life worth living!

One final thought: Today is Mother's Day in Germany. Yesterday I put red and white roses on my mum's grave. Her much too early death was the most horrible experience in my life so far. As I already told you, my mother was a wonderful woman. She also was very strong and she taught me to believe in myself and to accept myself the way I am. It's incredibly sad that she is gone and I miss her immensely. But I am lucky in that she helped me to become strong enough to even be able to live without her being around (at least not physically, she will of course always be in my heart). So, let me end this very personal post by saying: Thank you, Mum, for having been such an incredible person and mother!


Our Bottoms Burn said...

Helps me understand why you need to maintain control.

Anonymous said...

My wife suffered from panic attacks for many years. They were awful. I just tried to comfort her and be there for her.

I am glad you have someone like Ludwig to care for you.


Lea said...

"I don't need a white knight in shining armour who solves the issue for me. I need a companion who helps me put on my own armour and improve my own fighting techniques."

I love that. I hope you're feeling better.

Donpascual said...

Looking back on a long life with many hazards, I cannot remember to have panicked. On the contrary, I tend to become very calm and staying on top of the situation if things get dangerous. I am relying on this strength.

On the other hand, there have been very rare anxiety attacks, when there was no immediate danger but a high degree of uncertainty when thinking about my future. In a few tricky spots deciding about possible turning points in my life I have felt strong anxiety. Fortunately, they have been very few.

In my formative years, life was not as uncalculable as it is today. I guess you young people have to face much more unstable situations, today. One thing is sure for you as it was for me, you have to fight these situations on your own. Your analysis is correct: no borrowed strength but develop your own survival strategy and weapons.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this eloquent (poetic?) post. Very impressed at the way you seem to have the ability to 'stand outside yourself' and analyse what is going on in your head. Good luck with overcoming this extreme anxiety which sucks the pleasure out of life.
Kind regards

Erica said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I have had panic attacks in the past, and I know how utterly terrifying they are. Hard to keep your head when you feel like you're losing your mind.

But, as you know, they do pass. The darkness parts, then fades. And they are not about weakness. How we deal with them is about our strength.

Bob S said...

I have been there. Sometimes I find an aspirin helps. Other times I find watching an old movie or TV show takes my mind away from whatever I am fearing. Good luck

Kaelah said...

@ Our Bottoms Burn:
I think it is rather the other way round: I have always been a very structured and controlled person which is why situations in which I am not in control make me feel so uncomfortable and can lead to anxiety. But of course the experience with anxiety makes dark kinky scenarios that play with lack of control highly unattractive for me – the real experiences that I had with situations like that are enough already.

@ Joey:
I guess anxiety attacks are much more common than some people might expect. It sounds to me like your wife has managed to get rid of them, though, which is great! You are right, it is wonderful for me to have Ludwig. And of course the time we share is a source of strength for me. But as I already wrote in my post, it is very important that I don't rely on Ludwig to deal with the anxiety.

@ Lea:
I'm very happy that you enjoyed especially that part, because it is the most important aspect of this post for me. I am definitely feeling better, a bit sad and stressed out from time to time, but nowhere near an anxiety attack! Thank you for asking. :-)

@ Donpascual:
That sounds very familiar! I also use to be rather calm in a bad situation which, for instance, requires me to help another person. That was for example the case when my mother became ill and finally died. The anxiety came afterwards when I had time to come to rest. And in my case anxiety is certainly related to the feeling of not being in control and to uncertainty, especially in combination with a loss. As you rightfully said, though, it is important to learn how to deal with situations like these and how to take good care of oneself. I am very happy that the work which I have put into learning to know myself better and developing strategies to keep myself healthy and happy finally seem to pay off. Of course a certain sadness remains in some situations which I think is absolutely okay because some things in life simply are sad (or maybe also scary). But I try to make sure that I enjoy the good things nonetheless and don't fall into a completely depressed and anxious mood.

Kaelah said...

@ MasonPearson:
Thank you very much for your kind words! I guess that while being very structured and organized isn't always helpful when it comes to dealing with times of uncertainty, it at least helps me to analyze situations and finally find a strategy how to deal with them. Anxiety can indeed suck the pleasure out of life, but I try not to let it do that. I think it is okay to be sad and also anxious from time to time, as long as the anxiety doesn't take over one's whole life. Knowing that one can confront the anxiety and get into control again helps a lot to make sure that this doesn't happen so easily. :-)

@ Erica:
I'm sorry to hear that you had to deal with panic attacks, too! You are absolutely right, though, while panic attacks can be very scary, they fortunately pass and they are not dangerous. It is not always easy, but I think trying to remain calm and not beating oneself up about the negative side effects that come with anxiety is the key to not letting the anxiety take over one's whole life. Today, when I am not able to sleep very well one night because of sadness or anxiety, I usually manage not to become angry, even when I know that I have to be fit the other day. From my experience I know that I can still function well despite of a lack of sleep for a while and that I will most probably sleep better during one of the following nights because then my body will be tired and need the rest. Of course a real panic attack is not so easy to put aside, but luckily real panic attacks are very rare for me and I am also more relaxed about them than I used to be.

@ Bob S:
Thank you for your good wishes! :-) I think anxiety attacks are quite common, people usually just don't talk about them for the fear of being seen as a weak person. I'm sorry to hear that you have been there as well! I usually listen to music to calm myself down and feel happier again, especially if I can't sleep because I am feeling sad or anxious. That works very well for me.

Phew said...

Kaelah, I do not know you and I hope you don't mind me commenting on such personal matters, but from your blog you come off as an incredibly strong woman. There would seem to be little doubt that you can handle whatever challenge life throws at you. Best of luck for your upcoming endeavours.

Kaelah said...

@ Phew:
Thank you very much for your very kind comment! :-)

Honestly, I sometimes don't feel very strong at all. But I am lucky in that I have a bright future with Ludwig to look forward to, I've got a wonderful mate and some great friends and I think I've also got a good common sense and an investigative mind on which I can rely when it comes to having to solve any problems. So, it might not always be easy, but I am quite confident that I will soon become calmer and happier again, once I've gotten used to all the changes that 2013 has already brought and is about to bring.

Anonymous said...

This might sound too simple, and maybe it only helps me anyway, but I had some mild anxiety attacks one summer and I found I was craving to be put in a corset. So I bought an elastic waist cincher and i could not believe how much it helped.

I don't mean to be insulting but after I realized I was craving a corset I realized they sell those thunder shirts for dogs, and tight t-shirts for autistic children too, so why not try it for light anxiety?

The waist cincher really helps me hold on to feeling calm and in control. I would wear it when I had to speak in front of groups of people.

I never got a corset but I think they are beautiful and would really help the ambiance of a spanking scene too, as long as they are not laced too tight. Wouldn't want a person to faint or do organ damage.

Good luck, I hope you are managing better.

Kaelah said...

@ Anonymous:
Thank you very much for commenting and for sharing your experiences! I'm happy to hear that the corset works for you. What you describe makes a lot of sense in my view. I've made similar experiences wrapping myself up tightly in a blanket when lying in bed. And I think bondage can cause similar feelings of safety and calmness as well. Corsets don't have such a strong effect on me, but I like them because of their beauty. Plus, they make one have a straight back. I think this also causes a good feeling because one automatically keeps up a straight, strong and dignified posture. I can happily say that I didn't have any real anxiety attack for quite some time now. And I am constantly learning how to deal better with situations in which anxiety comes up. I think one important aspect is to accept anxiety as a part of me which comes up once in a while but also leaves again every time.