Thank you for your question. It sounds as if you are worried about whether you suffer from anxiety. It sounds as if you experienced shortness of breath and shaking which has reoccurred since the initial instance. Thinking about the first time this happened also leads to worry and panic of being out of breath. I wonder if this anxiety prevents you from doing things you would like to, and it is getting you down? It sounds, too, as if you don’t know if you are anxious but you do recognise something does not feel right for you. So, I am glad you have also reached out for help.
It might surprise you that it isn’t uncommon to feel this way and uncertainty around why we have experienced something, especially when it doesn't make sense, can be very difficult to sit with. Some people might call it something else, or have a name for it, which can be isolating. The most important thing to know is that this is how you feel, it is your reality, and it is valid. At the moment, working out why you feel this way and how to change it is hard, which is why counseling can help.
The first step in learning to cope with how we are feeling, about feeling short of breath, is to listen to the wisdom of your body. You want to freely admit and be honest, accepting that just because you're struggling with how you feel doesn't mean you're weak, it just means you're human. Perhaps list all your sources that might be making you anxious and how you might react to them differently and with empathy for yourself. And coming to terms with a problem is difficult, unless we stop denying that there is a problem with how it is responded to. You have been fine up until now, good enough is more achievable than perfect, but if you want to get up and face the day, something needs to change.
The kind of thoughts that we tell ourselves when we feel we can't cope gives us permission to continue to stay in denial and not deal with our emotions, because that can be kind of scary, dealing with emotions, because what does that mean? It doesn't mean you don't want change things; but it might mean you may need help to see the resources you have to cope with what you are experiencing right now.
Thinking about this incident in the cab can be difficult. Sometimes, when we lose control of a memory, we lose track of ourselves, including the things, people and connections that are important to us. I'd invite you too, to have a think about the quality of the relationships you have. How do you know your friends are just that and what stops you from talking openly about how you are feeling? Emotional intimacy, active listening, support, and companionships are all important. When these are missing in your life, it could lead to feelings of emptiness and loneliness, too. Think about how you would be with a friend if they were going through what you are experiencing. Often, we don’t speak to ourselves the same way we do our friends, which damages our relationship with ourselves.
Likewise, to improve our relationship with ourselves, it can be helpful to set goals that feel manageable given where you are at the moment. What can you do with regards to worry about your experience and memory of this past event?
When we have an expectation of ourselves that is asking too much, it can be aspirational, but unrealistic expectations seem to get in the way of consistency at least as often as they support it. For example, it might be you expect yourself to 'just move on' and 'never think of this again'. Is that fair? Is it realistic? This was impactful and has left you with something.
Sometimes our expectations and plans can be so lofty we forget where we are and don't take into consideration how we feel, it is disempowering. As an alternative, we can create a simple list of things you feel able to do that moves you towards the general direction of your goal. For example, you could break down not thinking about this incident into smaller, manageable steps.
Organic growth over time helps identify what we can do with the resources we have. It helps to appreciate that our energy levels change, and our resilience can ebb and grow. And anything that gets us to happily show up every day is the mechanism- expectations that are too high lead to feeling like we want to shut down.
Even if it feels overwhelming and painful, thinking and talking about significant feelings, events or thoughts that trouble you may help you process them. Depending on how strong you feel about these events, going through the process with a counsellor is highly advisable.
Take care of your physical needs. When bodies are run down, you're more susceptible to burnout. Make sure you have a good diet, especially your breakfast, eat something healthy. Avoid abusing yourself with rigid diets. Try to get as much exercise as you realistically can, avoid addictive substances and get plenty of sleep. Attend the basic needs you're not attending- don't work out for hours every day, just your basic needs- eating healthy, not too much caffeine and being mindful of getting enough sleep.
And then you also want to nurture yourself more than others. You need to show up for you as your own carer. You need to have a better balance and you do have a choice, although it is hard, to do so. I want you to always ask yourself, what am I doing today to nurture myself while I'm still there for others and away with my concerns?
It is important to remember that everyone needs support sometimes and care always, including you. Sometimes social media can impact this. Be mindful when you're on social media how much time you spend there and, what type of accounts you follow. How people present themselves is often different to their life- they present their best or worst parts of their day, but rarely show everything, particularly the mundane or things that won’t get them ‘likes’. It can cause comparative behaviour, where one never scores higher than the ones that seem ‘perfect’ or like they have their lives together.
Making time for self-care and listening to yourself is an important part of life. Not taking care of your needs can cause problems of self-worth which could also impact feelings of needing to be more and, do more, too.