Anxiety-The Endless Circle
Written by: Elizabeth
Where do I start? Even beginning this blog post is a chore! You may think, “Really? You’re just typing behind a screen!” but in reality, in the last week, I’ve had so many people follow me on this blog and on my Twitter account. Knowing this, and knowing that this piece will reach even more people weighs heavily on me…
My earliest memory of anxiety was when I was only six years old. I switched schools in the middle of the year, and every single morning, I’d wake up and dry heave. As I grew older, we moved to a different state, and moving to a bigger school, more people in the area, and everything was almost more than I could bear. Remembering meeting new people, having to make new friends and try to fit in? I was a mess almost all of the time. Then, when we ended up moving back to where I grew up, where I was born, I experienced a whole new set of anxieties.
Friends I had when I left weren’t very receiving. I was aware that I was being talked about behind my back, and more than that, each and every day was a struggle to get up and go to school. It was hard back then to deal with those who would bully me and try to say all of these things that came back around to me. I was very self-conscious of how I looked, what I said, and it felt as if everyone was out to get me. Looking back, I don’t think they actually were. Oh, they were rotten to some degree, and yes, they ran their mouth, but knowing what I know now about anxiety, most of the time, I’m sure I never crossed their mind…or not nearly as much as I thought at that time.
Anxiety can be described as an endless circle of thoughts. Here’s a diagram I found on the internet that about sums it up for me:
I’ve come to realize that the never-ending circle can grow, like a snowball, and even an avalanche if one doesn’t take steps to try to manage it. Your mind will start questioning if you’ve offended someone with your words or if you even should have done what you did. You’ll even find yourself apologizing a whole lot, and even keep yourself from going out and meeting new people. You’ll even be so afraid of getting stuck in a blizzard on the turnpike or afraid of the curves of mountains, that you’ll make excuses as to why you can’t go somewhere. Meeting someone face to face to discuss something can be almost debilitating, and every time you’re called into your bosses office, you begin to run down a list of things you may or may not have done and a reason for each. These are just a few examples of this endless cycle.
I have to admit that when my dad died, my anxiety went through the roof. I would wake up out of a dead sleep, sweating, because I would hear him call my name. Every time I would drive a certain route home, my stomach would twist and I would struggle to breathe. For a while, I’d do anything I could to not come home at night. And whenever I would hear an ambulance, I would panic and text my mom and husband to make sure wherever they were, they were okay. This could be a type of PTSD, but it’s a type of anxiety that was almost debilitating at times.
Sometimes, late at night, everything that could go wrong or has gone wrong begin to hound ones’ mind. The things you may need to do, the money you may need to spend, the things you may need to not do or the things you shouldn’t have said that day….this and so much more can take a hold of someone with anxiety and make it hard to sleep. I have learned to lay down and take deep breaths, breathing deeply from my diaphragm. Also, making lists, writing everything down, pros and cons and so much more, putting things into prospective have helped. Keeping myself busy has also helped. Having a set goal to reach, setting small goals that are attainable to reach that really big goal, is also a huge help. All I know is that I am learning to take more and more steps to alleviate some of the pressure. In an upcoming blog, I will discuss coping skills that I have adapted that help me. But what’s more important is that you do what works for you. We are all different in our anxieties. Some have social anxiety, some have OCD, some even have generalized anxiety about the need to control everything and everyone that comes into their life.
Like I did in my last blog, I’ll share one of my poems which describes some of the moments of anxiety in my own life:
I realize I’ve said so much
I’ve made promises
I understand all of that
Promises to myself
Promises to others
Promises I can’t keep
And what I don’t understand is:
Why is this so strong lately?
Why has it gotten worse?
Why do pieces of my past creep up
In every day happenings and
Threaten to overturn my world?
This is something I wish I didn’t endure
Or even wish on anyone else to endure
But it’s there: staring me in the face
Twisting my insides and making it
So I can’t breathe at times
Sometimes I feel like I can’t function
That everything about what everyone sees
Is nothing but one giant lie
Or sometimes I’m so self-aware
That it feels like I have a giant sign
In bold flashing letters that reads:
But I have to tell myself, this is a PART of me
This is NOT me…
Anxiety is a mental illness,
Heart racing, threat constricting, stomach twisting
Breathing labored: physical symptoms
Your rationale says, “This is ridiculous!
You can get a grip! get a grip!
For the love of God, GET A GRIP!
But I can’t…it’s not that simple
And sometimes, sleep
Sleep numbs it all:sometimes…
Other times, sleep brings out the dreams,
Dreams so real, they feel like you’ve lived them
This is my journey
This will NOT consume me
I’m stronger than this
But am I?
In closing, remember anxiety is something you have, anxiety is NOT you. Hold out your palms and close your eyes….take deep breaths and remember you are not alone in this feeling, and this too, will pass…before it starts again.
This piece was republished from Elizabeth's blog, "Colors Paint the Sky" at: https://eawhamm.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/anxiety-the-endless-circle/
Read more about Elizabeth at: http://www.depressionarmy.com/about-elizabeth