Anxiety- my devious and annoying little friend!

Definition of anxiety

1a (1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious
(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it
b : mentally distressing concern or interest
c : a strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness

     Anxiety…I’m so glad she doesn’t visit too often, and that I didn’t get to know her until my 40s, when certain life events introduced her to me. While I can’t say I have any idea how people feel who live with a daily anxiety disorder, I now know what glimpses of anxiety feel like. It sucks actually! It is a real thing that millions of people struggle with. I have a couple of friends that have dealt with it most of their teen and adult lives and have to use medication for their anxiety just to be able to function healthily in life.

     Why are so many people afraid to talk about mental illness or mental/emotional issues? Having anxiety is no different than having a cold, yet people are embarrassed to admit they have anxiety (or any other mental health illness for that matter). For instance, is being Bi-polar really any different than having cancer? It is something one GETS, DIDN’T ask for, and sometimes CAN’T control without the help of outside sources (therapists, doctors, treatments, medicine, nutrition, exercise, etc.) As a country, and as decent human beings, we need to treat those with mental health issues the same as those with physical illnesses.

 

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     We need to not only be willing to talk to people about our emotional health issues, but also feel comfortable reaching out to those that struggle with emotional/mental issues. Sometimes people are hurting and just need one person they can trust and confide in. It is hard for me to admit, especially when I’ve been the one who has helped others through anxiety issues, even trained in techniques to help. I’ve come to realize it is often out of my own control. Full disclosure: I gave in after our car accident a year and a half ago and went to the doctor to ask for an anxiety med that I could use when needed. And I hate meds and will try anything to avoid them if possible! But, something about that accident triggered random anxiety, not only when I’d get behind the wheel, also when I was just sitting and watching TV.  Increased heart rate, adrenaline soaring, the “fight or flight” response for absolutely no reason. I even got anxiety driving to the doctor to talk to him about having anxiety! Haha! And he scrutinized me like a house wife who was seeking to add to my stash of self medicating substances! I’m happy to report that even though he only gave me 20 Ativan (and said it was to last a year!) that I still have almost half left.
      I have learned that even I, the confide-in, life coach, optimistic gal, needed to open up to those I trusted, and admit that I was dealing with some stuff that I wasn’t able to control by myself. I was always the tough one-it was hard to admit it and rely on others for advice and understanding. My husband has been absolutely amazing, even though he does call me a “ruminator” (to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly). But, there is a difference between ruminating/worrying about everyday things like your loved ones, your health, finances, and the “worry” that causes physical changes, becomes obsessive thoughts that control your free time, or that you can’t get out of your head for long periods of time.
     I usually fall asleep at night praying for comfort and wisdom, while trying to quiet my mind. I wouldn’t have gotten through any of the really tough times in my life without the Lord and my faith. My friends and family are also great resources. We all need to be able to talk about our “junk” and ask for help sometimes. Sometimes we might need to see a professional for talk therapy or some type of temporary prescription. Another very helpful tool when going through times of anxiety is to pay attention to your diet. There are things that can make our hearts race even faster, like too much caffeine! Or maybe food that you are sensitive or allergic to that can trigger similar symptoms as anxiety. Exercise becomes even MORE important during times of anxiety! It gets our endorphins going which helps increase energy and relieve stress (and makes you focus on your form and breathing instead of fixating on unnecessary thoughts!)
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If you are dealing with anxiety that is affecting your life, please reach out to just one person. You don’t have to suffer alone and there are things you can do to get relief.
“Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store- a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome.” (Helpguide.org)