Neither Light nor Dark: A Tale of Anxiety

Anxiety. ANXIETY. anXiEtY! Websters defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”. Clinically, Anxiety DISORDER as described by the Encyclopedia of Psychology, ” is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.”.

It is not uncommon for folks to experience what I call “situational anxiety”. A big project is due at work that requires you to present your work to a room full of people. You aren’t a fan of public speaking, after all, most people aren’t. The night before the big day you can’t sleep and when it is your turn to present you have the sweats and feel a little woozy. Situational.

Let’s talk about “clinical” anxiety, although I prefer the term chronic, it just sounds less like “the crazies” that some associate with psychological diagnosis . It is easy to give the definition of anxiety but it is extremely difficult for us to describe how it fees. It is probably even more frustrating to those who don’t experience it to understand, to empathize. I have often tried to explain what I am going through during an episode and my recurring thought is that I wish they could be in my mind and body for that moment. Please don’t misunderstand, I do not wish anxiety on anyone, chronic or otherwise, but is it exasperating to try to explain and not be understood. Some of the questions I get are “what caused this”, “your life isn’t so bad, think of those worse off than you”, “just calm down”. I am often left feeling that non-sufferers think I am weak or just being melodramatic. Whose fault is this misunderstanding? It is nobodies, but I have hope that both sides will research and be more sympathetic to each others feelings.

I experience anxiety in different ways and for different reasons. One of my recurring scenarios is being dead. Not dying, but just not existing anymore. Through my depression I sometimes feel like I don’t want to be “here” anymore, but to me that just means I don’t want to feel this pain. The “dead” anxiety is more along the lines of the fact that one day I wont exist anymore, I will be a picture on a wall. What will become of my children, my grandchildren? This anxious episode often comes in the middle of the night. I wake up sobbing and I feel like I can’t catch my breath. My bed is damp from my body sweating and then comes the insomnia. Another time my anxieties catch me is when I am driving. I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin,  want to pull over and then be magically transported to my bed. Is this rational? Nope.

I like to think of myself as a strong person. I don’t handle obstacles by shying away. I don’t lack faith in myself and my capabilities. That being said, I throw out that whole “everyone has stress so deal with it” mentality, because Honey, this gal can deal like a mofo! However, it is very common for me to not show outward stress and it is possible to ignore the stressed out feeling and just power through. Unfortunately my body disagrees with this method and I have a physical reaction to stress. What happens? An acute anxiety attack. My chest feels tight, I feel like I can’t catch my breath, panic and tears ensue. These are only a few different scenarios my anxiety brings.

I use various tools to combat some of my attacks. I journal, take mini vacations, show love to others, nurture folks with meals made with love, and yes sometimes I do just fold and cry. Let’s go back to the word clinical. I have recognized in myself that sometimes I do need more than the tools I use to get through an attack. I see a therapist on a regular basis. I also take medication. Some of my medication is taken daily, while others are used for an acute anxiety attack.

I don’t see anxiety as a dark part of me as I do the rabbit hole of depression. Neither do I embrace it and wallow in my anxiety. I acknowledge the feelings and I press forward with whatever mode it takes to get through. I would be completely dishonest if I made it seem as if I have everything under control and that I beat anxiety every time. As a matter of fact, as I write, I feel my chest getting tight. I want to jump out of my skin and I am……shit, I have no words. What I will do is force myself to do my every day chores. I am going to breathe as deeply as I can trying not to hyperventilate. My rational side knows that this will pass but right now I can’t be so sure.

This blog may not have a good flow or direction and some might be just as confused as when they started reading. You may not see my point and there really isn’t a happy ending. But end it shall, literally and figuratively. I have no parting words, niceties or solution for the suffers or their loved ones. My anxiety is mine. Anxiety is anxiety is anxiety. That’s all I can say.




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