Anxiety — what it is to me
It’s weird how sometimes I can have a fairly large anxiety attack but sit so quietly to myself and maybe even stare out the window. I have problems with anxiety almost every day of the week. They all vary in shapes and sizes. Up until I really started to think and analyze it, I was convinced that anxiety was something I sort of acquired while I got older. I know better now. Looking back, with the help if a nice therapist, I discovered that I’ve had panic and anxiety issues my whole life and PTSD as well. Looking back, these aren’t really problems with my anxiety control, instead they are simply me reacting naturally (as a child should) to the frequently stressful environment. I really don’t know if anxiety runs in my family or just bad life choices do because my mother and her mother both suffered from anxiety (as a result of their life choices… but either way).
As an adult, I am exposed to new stresses. I consider all of these normal adulthood/motherhood stresses but I still sometimes just can’t even control the most random anxiety I might feel when I just have somewhere I have to be. I have tons of triggers that seem to be completely unrelated to each other. An example — if I have to be somewhere at 3:00pm then I will be ready at 2:00pm, watch the clock for thirty minutes feeling very anxious, leave and arrive there 15 minutes early. Being late is out of the question so much that I have to be early because I can’t handle the way I feel when I have somewhere to go. Sirens. This one I remember from my childhood and it’s still with me. I grew up in a little house right off the sidewalk of a 4 lane busy road in Baltimore. No matter where I was, when I heard a firetruck in the distance I had to run to my room. I could be in the back yard and if I heard a firetruck I would run to my house, up the stairs, and to my room. Today, I hear a loud plane and I am afraid its going to crash land. I know these things aren’t really happening but when these sounds are close-by and very loud it rattles me.
I’m positive the hurricane we had on the east coast a few years ago shaved years off my life (is that another crazy worry?). The hurricane was approaching and there was the most legit tornado warning I have ever experienced. It was all new to me, the t.v. screen was red and there was a brief description of a spotted tornado and its direction of travel (which was right to my front door… in my head at least). I was in fight or flight at least 10 times longer than anyone in the house. Once the tornado warning was gone (an hour later.. I never saw a tornado) every gust of wind sent my heart to my chest.
Was that a tornado? What does a tornado sound like? There are a lot of candles lit. If it is a tornado should I blow out all the candles first? Do I have time for that? If I don’t we could be burned alive while we are sheltered in the basement.
I sat awake all night while the other people in the house slept. Every minute was impossible to relax at all. I was exhausted after that. Feeling anxious can drain you pretty bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if its comparable to some type of crazy strenuous activity.
I have so many different forms of anxiety that I can say with confidence that anxiety and depression has made life choices for me in the past. That is when you definitely know that you need to manage it. If you think for a minute that those choices are good for, you’re most likely completely wrong. I look at anxiety and depression as a seperate entity from myself that wants me to drive my life into the ground. When I am anxious, I do things and think things that make me more anxious even if I feel like they are helping. When I am depression/recovering from anxiety, I could make choices that keep me depressed. They are like really really lonely “frienemies” that want to keep you so close to make sure you don’t realize that better is out there.
I haven’t tried every method under the sun to try and combat this anxiety of mine but the several that I have tried fail. No — actually they worked amazing for my anxiety but sucked for everything else in my life. In my teens I tried self medicating with illegal drugs and alcohol but that was the direction I wasn’t really wanting to take my life… like at all. Then I tried Ativan (legal drugs) and that just made me not care about anything. I tried Lexapro and that worked for anxiety & depression but it made be content with things I shouldn’t have been content with. I couldn’t escape the zombie feeling either.
I am sure I can blame anxiety for any depression 90% of the time. This might be bro-science but panic attacks drain me so bad that I feel like being that physically and emotionally tired will make you sad about everything.
The only things that helps without ruining your life is exercise. If you give your body a nice outlet for all of that energy, when its time to panic and your body is like “ok, hand over all the energy you have for today and tomorrow so I can worry about if I left a candle burning in the house” your body will be like “nah man, I’m pooped”. So if you suffer from anxiety and want to combat it for free without ruining your life, then give exercise a shot because I feel like it is a great resolution.
Except I don’t always work out, so I know when my anxiety picks up that I really need to start being more physically active. Things that are normal to feel anxious about, should always make you feel anxious. Just because you get anxious here and there doesn’t mean that what you’re trying isn’t working. I only say that because I once set out to eliminate the emotion entirely (with no luck) when I was fed up with it.
I feel like I have conquered a lot with this anxiety of mine and there is definitely a long road ahead for me. If you can relate to this, I would love to hear about your story with anxiety. What do you do to keep it under control?