Rethinking Anxiety’s Role in a Crisis
Over the weekend, my wife was bitten by a dog. It was a serious bite, costing her the tip of her right index finger. I was present when it happened, watching in horror as she stepped in between two angry lab-mixes that were fighting over a bone.
We went from watching college football to panic in less than 30 seconds. As my wife sat down, holding her bloody hand, there wasn't time to think about much. My only concern was how to help her. My mother-in-law had separated the dogs, placing one in a cage, and raced over with napkins and began to apply pressure to my wife’s wound. At that moment, we had no idea how serious the injury was.
Medical Emergencies and Anxiety
When it comes to the physical properties of anxiety, I am not an expert. I cannot tell you for certain the reason I was able to scoop up my wife, place her in our car, and rush her to the nearest emergency room without a moment’s hesitation was due to adrenaline. Blood, hospitals, loud noises, and confusion are all anxiety triggers for me and I can tell you they didn't slow me down for even a second.
From the moment we left my brother-in-law’s house to the moment I brought her safely home, anxiety played no role. Whatever part of my brain processes anxiety was shut off and the parts ensuring that she had everything she needed were operating at stunning efficiency. Is it possible that medical emergencies and anxiety aren't compatible? When a loved one is in danger, does the brain bypass the minefield of anxiety triggers and just focus its energy on providing care?
Anxiety Always Surfaces
My wife is a fantastic person and she does understand that having bipolar and anxiety disorders presents me with some limitations. She is stunned, however, at how perfect I was during this emergency. The number of things that should have triggered me, but didn’t, astounded her. My mother-in-law, a woman with no history of anxiety or any mental illness, was having a difficult time. During the entire ordeal, I was steady as a rock. For the first time in my entire life, I was described as unflappable.
However, anxiety always surfaces. After we were settled in our home, with my wife resting comfortably and me showered and in my favorite pajamas, the events of the day started to resurface in my mind. Each detail rapidly came to the surface and brought along the anxiety it so conveniently left behind earlier in the day.
The anxiety and panic attack that evening brought along paranoia, racing thoughts, and insomnia. It was a horrible thing to experience and, like all anxiety attacks, took its toll on me emotionally and physically.
Living with generalized anxiety is not easy. It prevents me from doing things I want to do and constantly pops up at inconvenient times. Amidst all of the chaos of this event, there was a silver lining. Being able to be there for my wife when she needed me, in spite of anxiety, is something I will always celebrate.
Howard, G. (2014, September 2). Rethinking Anxiety’s Role in a Crisis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/09/rethinking-anxietys-role-crisis