Anxiety Sucks

Last year I spent a couple of months in therapy for a severe bout of anxiety. On my worst day, my fight-or-flight response got so bad I started bawling at work for no reason and had to leave early. I never wanted medication, so I gave hypnotherapy a shot. While it didn’t solve my issue, it did help me get a toolkit of coping mechanisms, such as choosing physical activity, the EFT tapping method, meditation and journaling. Things are a LOT better these days but there are still times when my anxiety rears its ugly head. Now is one of them. This image is a pretty accurate description of how anxiety feels to me:

cc3c4fc50bd5db3843ddc5456cf8cdccIt sucks. And I hate talking about it, because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m asking for them to tell me how awesome I am. Because honestly? When I’m in a state of anxiety none of that even helps. It doesn’t MATTER if you tell me I’m awesome or I have tons of be proud of or anything, because no matter what anyone says my brain doesn’t believe it. Because my brain is temporarily stupid. My brain is lying to me. My brain is asking me a thousand questions I can’t answer or that I don’t WANT to answer. I feel out of control at times.

The worst part of this anxiety is dealing with other people. I want to be around other people, but somehow the anxiety makes me feel like an addict. I crave the attention of others but my interactions are never quite able to quiet my inner doubt. Every second of silence makes me question the relationship, as if all of my friends suddenly find me the most irritating person on the planet. As if they can smell the desperation over the internet.

rottenecards_5820967_5s8fvngqkyMy safe spot is my car. I can make it through the evening of a bad day if I can make it into my car after work. There’s something interesting about the dynamic of sitting in traffic, surrounded by people who can clearly see you, but being alone, able to let go of the tears you’ve held in all day while trying not to reach panic attack level. It’s cathartic. Occasionally I wonder if people passing see me and make up a story about why I’m so upset, and then I remember that while I glance at other drivers, I rarely think deeply about their motivations. We’re a self-centered species, humans, and we often only focus on ourselves. I think that’s why so many of us know what it’s like to feel alone in a crowd. We’re focused on ourselves. It’s part of being human.

My anxiety is relatively infrequent, but when it’s here, it feels like I’ve always been this way and WILL always be this way. And these thoughts create a sick cycle of worry. When I’m not in an anxious state, I forget what it’s like to be anxious, and I forget that other people feel anxiety also. Sometimes I forget to be understanding about these things. At those times I’m sure I fall into the reassurance mode, telling people how awesome they are even though I know it doesn’t help.

Do you know what helps me? Writing this blog entry. When I started typing, my fingers on the keys, noticing that I’m beginning to have difficulty typing because my fingernails are entirely too long and are slipping off the keys, my anxiety was high. Maybe a 6 out of 10. I was fighting back tears. I’d taken a walk in the beautiful spring sunshine but that didn’t help much. I was tense and felt sick to my stomach and like I could only take very shallow breaths. But now, as I’m wrapping up this Tolstoyesque-seeming entry, my level of panic has reduced by half, to maybe a 3 out of 10.

The simple act of writing about it, getting it out of me, is helping. And no, it doesn’t bother me that this entry isn’t my “usual” fare of food and frugality with a dash of fitness. This is me, too. This is me.

I know many people who suffer from anxiety to varying degrees. Maybe you do, too, and don’t even realize it. Here’s a handy dandy list of coping mechanisms you can use if you begin to feel the world closing in on you:

Ccl0WckW0AAEj8ZToday I used exercise, writing and breathing. Today writing helped most. I hope some of these things can help you, too.

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12 comments

  1. I am glad we are friends. I have seen your “growth” and how your coping mechanisms helped. i.e. Adventure Run vendors. I said I am glad we are friends and I mean it. I love your blogs. You are a skilled writer. I am so glad that writing your blog today helped you. It was a great read!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anxiety is the worst. I’ve never had it, but I’ve been very close to people who have. It definitely has a
    physical cause. I’m taking some medicine right now – specifically for arthritis – as I try to mend from knee
    replacement surgery and I’m going to try to cut down on it to see how I feel. We all react to drugs differently.
    I’m not sure that the pill I am taking is actually helping me, doing nothing in particular, or if I’m better off with
    just resting and icing my leg and foot. I’m sure the roots of anxiety are very old too and that’s why some people are so prone to drink. Takes the edge off, as they say. But what pray tell is causing the edge? We
    do live in a stressful world, but can we find safer ways to help ourselves? I like all of your suggestions.
    Crying is a great release and a natural one. Stopping . . . . breathing deeply and concentrating on just that . . .
    all good. Finding things that work best for each individual self is good. In the meantime, as this ailment keeps
    escalating throughout the world, we must seek to find the answer of why it is so predominant. You have my
    sympathy and love. Thanks for speaking out.

    Like

    • My anxiety definitely cropped up after my dad’s passing and it has coincided with periods of intense personal growth. I’m figuring out something important internally. I may not know what it is yet, but I’ll get there, and it will go away. I just need to get through it yet. Crying helps, writing helps, Benadryl helps. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really hope you’re healing well!

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  3. Writing definitely helps. Hang in there…you are not alone for sure. I smiled at your safe place being your car…mine is the shower (we have a small standing shower and I need that close small space). My family know when I’m “there” because I shower more. Lol…silver lining.

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    • Thanks for your comment! I wonder if the small spaces is important to us somehow. I have another friend with anxiety who also finds the shower as her safe place. Sound travels pretty well between our bathroom and the downstairs apartment, though, so I don’t spend a ton of time in there. It helps, too, hearing others speak out to confirm that we’re not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it does. When I was younger and before I was diagnosed I would hide in my closet under my long dresses. I didn’t have a small, standing shower then. Maybe, as you said, it is a place we can be alone, but not alone.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You know that I have anxiety and OCD. Yes it sucks. I’m glad you were able to ease it a bit tonight by writing. We all have to find coping skills that work for us. My anxiety/OCD is a daily issue and I use a number of different skills. It just depends on the day really.
    I’ve started walking every day and that has helped me a bit. I used to walk with music but I don’t anymore. I’ve found that listening to the sounds around me, whether it’s kids playing or cars driving by or even just the wind.. takes me out of my head and into the present for just a few minutes and that’s a gift in itself. Hugs to you my friend. โค

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. You would enjoy reading the work of Rollo May who was an existential psychologist who wrote that anxiety is normal to a certain extent and necessary for growth. I also recommend music to help with anxiety but everything you are doing are great strategies!

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    • I’ve been having serious trouble listening to music lately. I’m really affected by it, and lately negatively. I will definitely look into Rollo May as I’m pretty positive my anxiety absolutely precedes a growth period. Thanks so much! (Also, did you see the previous post about the spices? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      Like

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