In the rush to take advantage of a moment of relief to write this, I have used what is essentially my first draft. Be forgiving! =P
Anxiety, like depression, is a liar.
Anxiety is a little voice that is on “play and repeat” in my head. It tells me that I cannot do the things I want, need, and am capable of doing. It reminds me of years-old fears and failures in an attempt to make me forget all the improvement I have accomplished through hard work and perseverance. I have a dirty word for what anxiety is, but I’ll allow your imagination to fill in the blank. =)
Anxiety can make eating impossible.
I have been known to be unable to keep down Cream of Wheats…CREAM OF WHEATS!!!… because anxiety impeded the passing of my food down my esophagus into my stomach. When I am upset and anxious, I have to very careful about the foods I eat because the food becomes stuck…and then…not so stuck. It is not about an upset stomach or the need for some sort of acid reliever. It is a physical incapability directly linked to anxiety. I know, right?! Anxiety also manifests itself physically by making my hands become numb, tingling, and uncomfortable, my arms feeling tight. It is no wonder many people believe they are having a heart attack when they are having their first bout with the unfamiliar opponent of anxiety.
Anxiety can be embarrassing.
“Hello. My name is Redhead, and when anxiety has its way with me, I cannot leave my house for needs or desires.”
How exactly does a grown woman explain THAT to someone new, an employer, or someone who has never experienced the debilitating effects of anxiety? Children who are afraid of the first day of school say things like that, not grown women. In cases like this, I would prefer to have a compound fracture of my fibula because then everyone would understand how it is that I cannot accomplish my work and responsibilities for the day. I mean, who can argue with a bone protruding from my leg! Anxiety that keeps me within the confines of my home…not so much.
Anxiety keeps me in great fear of the loss of loved ones.
My 14 year-old dog Lorie, has been ill on and off for the past week or so. I live in constant thought about having to hear dreaded words from the veterinarian that Lorie cannot come home with me. She and I have been through a lot together. She has been a great companion when my illness pushed people away, always willing (and demanding of) a treat or petting session for her comfort (LOL). Now, with the prospect that I may lose her, I am fighting off a terrible fear. I will do right by her to ensure she suffers as little as possible if indeed, she is ill, but I know there are limits to the comfort I can take from that.
I also fear greatly the loss of loved ones who push their health to the side in the maladaptive coping technique of denial. What they refuse to accept is that while they are busy neglecting their health, I am busy being rightfully concerned. It is true that I should not worry more than a person who does not care enough about themselves to protect their health, but we all know that if I were able to be that black and white about my emotions, I would not qualify as very “human” (nor would I be sharing with you today about mental illness!).
I am feeling very alone in this struggle at the moment, but am also very thankful to have you to share this experience with. I am heading off to start working my distress tolerance skills, set some minor goals to triumph over this bout with anxiety, and wake tomorrow able to accept, process, and let go of the anxiety that has bungled up my today.
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