Part of the reason I started blogging again was in hopes to educate, bring understanding and also to create empathy around a variety of topics. I’m hella nervous to write about my anxiety but I am hopeful that someone will find this helpful.
When I first started opening up about my anxiety the most commonly asked question was, what the hell does it feel like? Let me set the scene…
You are standing at the door running 15 minutes late for work. You are doing the standard pat down before stepping out the door.
Wallet – check!
Keys – check!
Phone……fuck where is my phone? Bah! I’m already late!
Think of that feeling when you realize you don’t have your phone…got it? This is the moment where my anxiety thrives.
That jolt you experience when you can’t remember where you put your phone is mega-amplified in my chest and I get an aggressive knot in my stomach. My palms become more sweaty than normal, and I start to feel hot all over. While all of this is happening I have a lot of negative thoughts racing in my head. When I experience these things I recognize that my anxiety is in full effect.
When I was watching the newest season of Bojack Horseman they illustrated his inner voices and it reminded me of what I experience. The visuals of his inner dialogue is spot on and help explain this better.
Bojack’s thoughts may seem a bit extreme but I feel like it’s an accurate look at what a negative self talk cycle looks like. Even though my thoughts are not exactly the same the feelings around them sure are. Hopefully this will give you a new perspective of what anxiety looks like since you can’t really tell all of this is happening by looking at someone.
Need to name to tame
I was like Hollyhock, I thought I’d grow out of the doubt and the negative feelings would eventually go away. I didn’t realize that it was all a part of how I experience anxiety. Honestly I didn’t even know what anxiety was and I thought I was the only one going through shit. It was only when the internet started becoming more easily acssisble that I started doing research and finding more people talking about it. I started to find comfort in knowing I wasn’t going nuts and I wasn’t alone.
Exploring all of this was overwhelming and I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a more adult adult to tell me how to handle these feelings and to teach me what I can do to help myself. I found a very nice therapist and she helps me see things from a more positive point of view and I am thankful for her every damn day. She explained that I experience:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
Anxiety feeds off of my vulnerabilities
When I am in my head I am usually spending time in 2 places. I‘m thinking about the past which brings up all my regrets. Or I’m thinking about the future which is full of worry and “what if’s”. In order to get out of this toxic head space I need to focus on what is happening right now and feel all my feelings. I have found that people will say they are angry or happy but not really connect with how their body or mind is responding to these feelings. These days we are always rushing around which sometimes includes rushing through feelings. My therapist encourages me to “challenge my negative self-talk” which I’m still trying to master.
One thing that has been helping is tracking my anxiety and overall feelings for the day in my Bullet Journal. When I’m feeling anxious I ask myself why I am feeling what I am and force myself to sit in the feeling to explore it and even learn from it. It’s hard work and sometimes it’s just not fun but it has really helped me recognize what I’m feeling and why. It also helps me reflect and notice patterns that come up.
The one thought I try to keep at the front of my brain is to try to only stress over what I can control. Simply that comes down to me, I can not do anything about how others perceive things or do things, I can only control myself. It seems simple enough but at the same time it is easy to forget.
I found more inspiration from Netflix while watching One Punch Man. He views his world simply
Tomorrow’s worry for tomorrow’s me – One Punch Man (Saitama)
How to Help
Since my brain is going at a million miles a second, if we are talking and I seem spacy or uninterested please know this is not true. I am simply trying to wade through all the bullshit in my head to find all of the right words I want to use. I tell bae all the time that his brain works so much faster than mine, and it’s because I am considering all.of.the.things.
I’ve met some people that refuse to acknowledge that my anxiety is real, and how I experience it is wrong. The worst thing you can do for me makes me feel like this is all invalid. I’m not asking you to agree, just know that this is how I walk through the world.
The struggle continues but it is better now that I know I am not alone.