Since I worked as a counsellor for years, I thought knew what anxiety looked like. I had seen it many times. A person would get a certain look in their eyes, their breathing would get faster and strained, they might get blotches of red on their neck, they basically would look unwell and I thought this was anxiety. But this is only one example of how anxiety can be seen and I had no idea how invisible it could actually be until it happened to me.
One day I went to work feeling quite normal, or as my kids would say, as normal as I get. But as I sat down in my cubicle I thought I was losing my mind. I literally felt like I was floating above my body and wondering how to get back inside. Or worse, I wondered if I even wanted to go back. I watched my body sitting in the chair, staring at the computer screen, wondering what to do. How do I turn it on? What was my password? What would I do once I got it working if I could even get it to work? I remember feeling like my whole body was made of stone and I couldn’t move my limbs. I have no idea how long this lasted, maybe 2 minutes, maybe 30, but it was terrifying. How could this happen? Could anyone tell? Was anyone watching?
A few weeks later I thought to tell my therapist what had happened, worried that this might be the final straw that proved I was crazy. I was shocked when she just nodded and said it sounded like a rather typical anxiety attack. I was relieved and terrified at the same time. Would it happen again? Well, yes, it has happened again and I survived.
A few years after this first attack, I was chatting with someone who said they too had anxiety and so I asked what it was like for her. I was shocked when she described feeling like a statue, frozen in time (why these things still shock me I don’t know, but they do). So just in case you think you’re the only one who has moments in time that you cannot explain, you are not alone. You may not understand what is happening, and there may be no rational explanation at the time, but it helps me to think that I am not the first or the last to experience moments like this.