You place Josh down here and you place yourself up here. And you say: That is not me. I could never be like that. That person is other. Undeserving, a monster. It’s an old story. It’s how wars begin, it’s how people turn on each other. And, you know, it starts so simply too. I am not you. I am nothing like you. And it is each time a lie. Because underneath all the layers of fear and protection we are at our core the same. We have the same needs. We carry in us the same capacity for good and evil. -Dr. Tom, Being Erica
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
There are some shows that stay with you. The shows that come to you when you need them most. The shows that really manage to express something-that manage to tell you a story. It’s like when read a book that changes your life and it forever holds a spot on your Favorites list. Being Erica, which I just finished rewatching, is one of those shows. I think we need different things at different times in our lives. For example, my first big-ish breakup I rewatched the Gilmore Girls. I swear through watching it, and then watching the Netflix continuation of the series, I could feel my heart knitting back together. But while rewatching Being Erica I’ve come to learn there are some things about ourselves that we would rather keep in the dark. These same things are things we need to confront.
I believe our favorite shows, books, movies, quotes, and taste in music says more about us than we could ever hope to say. Stories and songs are personal. And sometimes they can say something about you, that you don’t even consciously know…yet. They can open our eyes to what is really going on. And I think that is one of the things I love most about them.
We all feel stuck sometimes. We all get sad sometimes. And in some ways, stories are universal–they can transcend boundaries and often, they open our eyes and mind to what before we couldn’t understand.
At its core, Being Erica is the story of woman struggling to own her life. She’s an English lit major who’s at a point in her life where she’s stuck and she doesn’t know how to get out. In the very first episode we see her hit rock bottom–without knowing what we are really witnessing, we witness a catalyst. Her old life is destroyed. And yet, without this destruction, nothing would have changed.
Things are not meant to be easy. And every single person in this world you see has a story that would break your heart. It’s unavoidable though because without tearing a muscle it cannot grow. Without suffering we don’t really understand the value of joy. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. This doesn’t mean–in any way –that I think the way suffering and pain is doled out is at all fair. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but bad things happen to the best people. But something you should consider is that the ‘bad people’ are just good people who’ve made bad decisions and given up. Which is, incidentally, a point that this show tries to make.
Now that I’ve finished watching it again, I wish I could go back to when I was sixteen, watching it for the first time. I remember the first time I watched it; my mom and sister got sucked into watching it.
Hopefully, one day, I’ll have it all together. I’ll have the perfect job, the perfect guy, and the perfect life but life is what you make it and that’s what matters. You won’t get what you want by sitting around and staying quiet. You have to speak up. You have to say your truth. You have to own your wonderful life. Let go of the past. And learn to live in the present. Life goes by too quick, it’s almost painful, so enjoy it while you’re here.
The one thing about this show is that it constantly reminds you that nothing is constant. This is one of the undisputed truths of life. Everything has a beginning, everything has a middle, and everything has an ending. Some endings are beginnings in disguise but knowing that, doesn’t make the process any easier.
If you’re in the mood for an intelligent, relatable comedy you should watch it. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love it.
It is where your world is shaking.
The world turns into words, and each letter falls. As the world shakes, each word dissolve into letters, something separate and other, and each begins to fall as you try to read. The letter disappear–one by one, morphing into a nothingness, a blank space. The panic and anxiety is unfurling in you–rising like a wave and crashing down just as hard. You see, the panic is a puzzle, you can solve if you could just read the sentence. But, the world is shaking and the letters are breaking off.
Around you, the world collapses; changing a shadow of a thought into something something bad–something that is dragged from your deepest fears and worst nightmares. You are terrified. Your heart is pounding. Awful things are happening right now-RIGHT BESIDE YOU, right behind your door, or in the shadows that converge in the hallway. You have to do something–but you know nothing’s there. It has to stop, but it doesn’t, and you are stripped down to your core, utterly vulnerable and powerless.
This “panic” / “anxiety” becomes so much more than any one identifiable feeling. Fear and vulnerability drown you from the inside out, and then horror becomes a ticking time bomb in your head, urgency comes as a thunderous buzzing in your mind, and near-blinding panic suffocates you.
Logic tells you, you are breathing, but you’re not breathing. Your chest is tight and getting tighter–your lungs are hollow and contracting, you can see your heart pounding in your chest, and each second keeps passing, and you’re still not breathing.
Everything, it’s pressing down on you.
All you needed was to read that simple sentence but now the panic’s won. And, you drown as you sink leagues beneath the sea.
The entire world is pressure. It’s all there ever is and all there ever will be. You may have been a immovable, sturdy truck but the pressure has reduced you to the size of a Rubix Cube. Still though, there is shaking still, and you don’t know how much more you can take before you deconstruct all together, liquesce, evaporate, become nothing.
You remember this.
It will always equal four.
You know your name.
You can spell your name.
You love reading.
It will always equal four.
2+2 will always =4
You’re breathing and the world is steadying.
And, you are okay.
Long story, short.
I just went through something similiar to this again-a really bad anxiety attack that basically came out of nowhere. I’ve been dealing with these things for a loooong time.
I know anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and flashbacks, very well. But I’ll mostly be talking about panic and anxiety attacks today.
One HUGE thing that’s become invaluable to me when panic and anxiety are quaking through my world, shattering words, are numbers, facts and repetition.
- I am Kay.
- I am a writer
- It will always equal four.
- 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.
- 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.
- 2+2=4 and it will always equals four.
- 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.
Repeating, Numbers and Facts or simply Good Ol’ Repetition, are some of the best tricks I use. They enable me to bring something resembling control and order back into my unsteady and shattering world.
These tricks can help bring you back to reality. They tie you to something, even if it is only a ghost of a thought that you can grab ahold of, it will anchor you. In the middle of a panic or anxiety attack, if you can manage to think and focus, on one thing you are, one thing you know, or even one thing, you can follow that wisp of a string back down to the real world–the place where the world isn’t shaking. If you can follow these specific-independant-thoughts you’ll be in more control and will eventually feel safer.
Something that is so very important to do after an attack, like the one that inspired this post, is to try to understand where it comes from and why it happened. It isn’t easy. But it’s worth a try. What sets off the first initial reaction? How did it begin? I used to see no reason for these panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and flashbacks that happen to me (and there was a point where these things were running my life). But, time has passed since then and I’ve learned a lot. Heck, today alone has taught me more about these coping strategies I use. Thinking outside the box can help you to figure out why it happened. Sometimes, the “why” is clear. But sometimes, it isn’t. Because, it doesn’t make sense to feel like your family is in mortal danger while they are simply lying on their beds, in their rooms, in a locked house.
Every fire has a spark. And every attack has a trigger.
What do you think started this?
What was happening before the panic attack?
When did the physical symptoms start?
What were the instigators?
These are examples of questions you can train yourself to explore. By thinking on, and answering them, you may end up understanding the why behind it, and that is no small feat.
Why did this happen today?
- It started when I heard this song and then things kept happening and it all reminded me of this bad person
- I ran into someone awful from the past today and it brought back very strong, very bad memories of things that happened back then.
- There was shouting from my neighbor’s house and in the blink of an eye I was outside my screaming parents bedroom, crying out to be let in, banging on the door, needing to get in. I shrank to the size of a football-I was weak and powerless to stop the screaming. He could and would do whatever he wanted. I had no power to stop it. Or stop the violence and verbal assault that was directed to her. And, I was just as hopeless at protecting the innocent–those whose eyes were supposed to stay dry.
The most mundane encounter, the silliest object, the random person, the shouting neighbors, can be, or be connected to a whole world of hell for some people. I am one of those some people. It used to rule my life. To the point where I couldn’t leave my house. And I believe it is important for anyone who deals with this stuff have as much knowledge, and as many coping skills, as possible.
A huge step in learning to deal with panic and anxiety attacks is to first, accept them, and realize they may be in control right now, but they won’t be forever. You can learn to deal and control them better; you can learn to cope with them better. They may never go away, but they don’t have run your life for you. They do not have to be in charge. Knowing what sparks them is a huge step in getting some control back. Learning what you can do to help yourself when you are in that situation is the most important gift you can give yourself.
When you work at coping and controlling what’s going on inside of you you take back some of that control the panic and anxiety strip you of. These rudimentary tricks are ones that I value most. They allow you to help yourself when you are in the worst sort of state. They help you get down from those heightened states of ultra-alert awareness.
It should also be worth mentioning that every panic attack, all anxiety-anxiety attacks included, are all different. What works for me may not work for you. Also noteworthy is, the panic attacks and anxiety attacks I experience are severe and intense. Not all panic attacks look the same. Not all anxiety does either. And it’s just worth it to mention that no suffering is unimportant.
Well, my fingers are aching, they’ve dislocated twice throughout writing this post, and my wrist is also flaring up. So, this is me, signing off at this obscene hour of night, hoping tomorrow will bring a really, really great day. I could really use one.