I have been itching to write and post a new blog entry but have been unable to “catch” one of the 100 ideas whirling around in my brain and then “cage” it up long enough to find the words I want to use to write. To address this inability to “catch” a subject that I have been dying to write about, I decided that perhaps, choosing a subject near and dear to me, but not quite on the bull’s eye of my radar would help relieve some the anxiety that is thwarting my journalistic efforts. And there you have it…my subject…ANXIETY!
My first, clear memory of anxiety goes waaaaay back to 1985 when I was 6 years old. I was playing with my girlfriends from the street on which my family and I lived, running down as a group to one girl’s house in particular. When we arrived, I saw a cute, tall, dark haired teenage boy who I thought had pretty blue eyes. When he looked at me (a 16 year old to a 6 year old, mind you) I felt anxiety creeping into my brain, whispering things like, “Kelley, look at the old shorts and top you are wearing. He will never notice you!” I intrinsically knew that I wouldn’t be able to catch his attention in old shorts and an everyday top. Therefore, I dashed up to my house, put on my beautiful emerald green one piece bathing suit with lovely ruffles running up and down the front of the suit in a beautiful pattern. I knew the emerald of the suit would wear well against my deep, auburn hair. I did know, however, that running around in my suit alone would get me into trouble, so I pulled on a pair of nice jean shorts. When I returned to my friend’s house, I felt confident that I would catch this teenager’s eye as I has grown confidant in my “grown-up” bathing suit. As I walked up to him, waiting for him to notice me among his cousins and other neighborhood children, I waited for him to say something to me, wanting SO MUCH to feel SPECIAL. He did look at me, smiled, and then went back to working on his motorbike.
I didn’t feel special. I felt ugly, unworthy, and as anxious as all get out.
This is my first memory of anxiety going beyond being a healthy emotion into an unhealthy, brain-changing entity that “instructed” me on how I had to be what others wanted me to be. Anxiety taught me that I was not good enough for others and needed to always try to please them, to raise myself to their standard since anxiety had begun lessons that taught me that I sit beneath the “worthy” people.
I must say that a situation such as this could have gone down some really scary, even illegal roads if the people I was around were wicked or immoral. I shudder to think. But, alas….
There are other things about this memory that you should be wondering about. For instance, how does a 6 year old know that bathing suits are used as tools to get males to notice them?! I didn’t grow up in a house where things like that were taught, discussed, or encouraged. But that is another post. And why would I even want a 16 year old boy to notice me AT ALL?!
Well, anyhoo…back to anxiety, or what I suffer with, Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
“People with the disorder, which is also referred to as GAD, experience exaggerated worry and tension, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months.” – Anxiety and Depression Association of America (http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad)
Well, I fit into most of the specific descriptions mentioned above… and more. At the moment, worries about finances, family members’ health, what I look like, what others think of me, and running across the paths of people who I have not seen in years are what keep anxiety crawling over my skin and into my brain like the buzz of electricity!
Some of the skills I have been practicing lately, in an attempt to take away Anxiety’s power over me are basic skills that I never really developed as a child. I force myself out of the house on lone trips where I will be interacting with strangers along the way. When a critical thought about me pops into my anxious little brain because someone glances at me, I stop and ask myself, “Does that person even know me? No…so why would they want to take the time to judge me?” I also ask myself, “Even if the person is looking me up and down, judging my looks, clothing, hair…aren’t THEY the one who has a problem?” Reminding myself to come back to reality and be mindful in what task I am dealing with at that moment helps me to not only complete my task efficiently, but to remember that the kind of anxiety I have is of a lying type, and I have no need to listen to liars. =)