a young woman's experience with anxiety

I had an epiphany today and I wrote it down…

Whenever I get those feelings of anxiety, those are my cues that something in my life isn’t right. Whether I’m not reacting well to my environment or something inside needs to change, they are signs that I am not fulfilled or comfortable for some reason. Instead of running away or suppressing the feelings, I [can] use them to connect me to my greater whole. I understand why it’s happening and that is like the puzzle piece I’ve been needing to know. The very thing I was avoiding was the same thing that was going to help me. 

 Bottom line: I’m not sure if those goes for everyone but…I think I can say that my anxiety issues are a reflection of whatever is going on in my world – inner or outer.Those annoying feelings are trying to let me know that something needs to change. It’s all connected.

Does anyone understand what I’m saying? I would really like your thoughts on this.

a new normal?

i helped set up a party this weekend and something happened that made me think.

the event was held in a huge building with very long floors — it reminds me of a giant warehouse with multiple levels. tammy, one of the women who was also helping out, was in traffic and needed directions to the building. she called terri, the coordinator, for directions and they hung up.

10 minutes later, tammy calls again. she’s on our floor now and can’t find our room. she is very worked up–almost unreasonably so. the first thing she says is, “i’m about to turn around and go home if i can’t find this room!” she’s totally serious and even starts bickering with terri, who is trying her best to give her further directions. i don’t know tammy very well but the whole exchange surprises me.

a few minutes later, tammy enters the room. she’s visibly bothered, uncomfortable and tense.  “i was getting ready to take the elevator and go home,” she announces. “i really don’t like to not know where i’m going.”

* * *

tammy had endured traffic as she traveled from her suburb to the city and was all dressed up for this halloween party. yet she was totally ready to go home because she could not find the room we were in. and even though she bickered with terri on the phone, i knew she wasn’t angry. she was a little annoyed — and very anxious. and it was a weird experience for me to see that happening in someone else (part of me wishes i could go back and help her work through the anxiety). her tension did taper off once she found the room, but i wondered…

…could she imagine feeling that way all the time? could she imagine not being able to relax even though she found the room? she really was handling being lost very well, so how would she handle feeling that way most of the time? would she adapt to it, like people with anxiety disorders do? would she just get used to feeling wired? of existing in a fuzzy bubble? what would she have done if she wasn’t able to come down from her panicky feelings?

i remembered being that scared once upon a time: when i had my first panic attack. it was unfamiliar, uncomfortable, weird and i didn’t like how it made me feel. but then, as i went from feeling anxious only sometimes to most of the time, it became my new normal. i just became used to existing in this uncomfortable state. thinking about it that way actually blows my mind. it made me remember that…i wasn’t born feeling this way–i lived a life without this feeling, once upon a time. it sucks to know that this went from being an occasional discomfort to an almost daily discomfort. and it sucks that the only way to the other side of such a primal discomfort is to sit with it and know it can’t hurt you.

it does make you a stronger and more empathetic person, that’s good.

but still…i wish this wasn’t my normal. i wish this wasn’t the norm for so many people. 

it’s been a minute, guys. hello! =) how are you guys?

i turned 24 this week, october 6. since i last updated, i’ve been on two road trips (i didn’t drive — they didn’t trust me yet lol); have become a stronger driver; decided to pursue a totally different career from the one i dreamed about forever (and graduated in this may); my anxiety has been much better; i’m still searching for gainful employment (i do have a gig, though); i’m thinking of starting a youtube channel — yadda yadda yadda.

like i said, my anxiety has been a lot better. i discovered this book randomly and it really does describe some of the deep issues that’s been going on with me and knowing these things has helped tremendously with how i feel about myself. there’s so many self-help books out there, so i don’t mind if you shudder to yourself when i mention a book (lol). but, seriously, i’ve been through a lot of books and this one is as good as my old stand-by and my forever love, Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes.

BUT–a lot of how i’ve been feeling is just a combination of years of therapy, taking my buspar as prescribed, and lots of self-reflection.

i’ve come a long way this year, but i still have a ways to go. i’m about to get seriously “Dear Diary,” on you guys for a sec, so try to bear with me. i have a serious pet peeve — i hate being inside on the weekends. i need to be out. but, unfortunately, i don’t have any close friends anymore. i think i mentioned before, most of my friends i’ve moved on from, have moved away, live a ways away from me — bottom line: i need friends. and i have had a hard time making them in the recent past just because of anxiety and other issues.

but i think i’m getting closer now to letting someone in again. i’m so glad that i’m strong enough to have gotten to this point to where i don’t have to steel myself from feeling and admitting loneliness, longing, etc. and i’m even more proud that i’ve gotten to the point where i’m inching towards doing something about it.

i had an incident a couple years ago that put me in the worst, ugliest place i’ve ever been in. and i’m finally letting all the pain from that go away as it should and reclaim my happiness, myself, my life and wellbeing. i’ve realized that my okay-ness is directly related to letting go of that incident. and it feels good to finally feel more powerful than that.

heartart

(c) Laurie Justus Pace

anyway, i came across this brilliant pin yesterday over on Pinterest and even though it’s supposedly for children–this helps me too! lol so I had to pass it on to you too.

anxiety

be back soon. i have something up my sleeve and i’ll be back sooner than i was before. :)

I got my driver’s license!!! After four years of taking driver’s classes on and off, I finally took the road test for the first time on July 18 and PASSED!!!!! It was one of my goals for this year.

My anxiety did affect how well I did (ugh) but I had an amazing driving instructor who did a relaxation exercise with me beforehand (lol) and I MADE IT!!!!

Whoo-hoo, so my new license should be coming soon. Very proud moment. =)

Now, I was a little perturbed by the fact that I drove beautifully over to the road test site, only to mess up over stupid things at the road test. It really bugs me.

It made me realize, though, that the influences around me have a big impact on how I feel. My driving instructor and my the actual road tester both encouraged me to just slow down and relax, and I haven’t heard that from anyone in ages and it really did help.

On the flip side…

Life-wise, I’ve been struggling lately. In the best way. Anxiety really changed me as a person, unfortunately, and I’m finally getting that person back to the surface but it’s hard. To not have people around you who are stable and supportive of your efforts just sucks beyond words. To have no one to cry to or to hold you when you’re going through hard times, it just…it’s not right. But I’m dealing with it.

When your mind ping-pongs all over the place, and adds new neon-colored ping-pong balls every second, it’s understandable to just want to break down and cry. Lately, I’ve really been working on just focusing on what I’m doing…instead of playing ping-pong. And I do well…until one sparkly ping-pong grabs my attention and then I get that urge to play. And so I do, since it’s,  you know, interesting. And then I’m back in the match again.

So hard. Yet, I must keep at trying.

 

Friends

How do you make friends?

I used to know how and I used to do it effortlessly.

But, then, you know…I was 10.

I’m 23 and …I have no friends. Well, I have acquaintances and people I text/call occasionally but they’re either old friends or college friends who all live out of state. Oy…no bueno!

I guess it’s because I’m confused (about myself.)

I’ve been extremely unfulfilled socially for a decade. I started surrounding myself with “safe friends” in high school. Basically, I felt like “safe friends” wouldn’t reject me and I didn’t necessarily like them (rude I know). The part that gets me is — there was a mutual friendship attraction (lol) between me and other people but I distanced myself from them. I brought these behaviors with me to college, too, even though I tried not to.

At some point, I stopped picking “safe friends” and went for people I actually liked. But then I kinda took on the role of “counselor.” Someone who gave good advice. I was afraid to show my “flaws” with them, afraid they’d reject me for them and I was lonely and thought this was the only way someone could like me.

Then in the past 2 years, I switched schools, worked a lot and was afraid to go to the school’s clubs, etc so I made no friends.

:|

Why does my behavior sound SO RIDICULOUS now that I’m looking back? I knew then that I was acting pretty strangely. I just didn’t know how to stop it.

So now…I’m like…who am I?  I know who I am but I’m still afraid to show it sometimes. Old situations, unfortunately, hold me back from being myself now. Sometimes I still feel like that awkward 12-year-old girl who was the only girl of color in her entire class. Which is a shame.

I’m so used to giving people what I think they want instead of who I am. Only to later find out, what they wanted was the real me. They often seem to end up dating/being interested/befriending someone who has  the same characteristics I kept on the down low. So it’s like…a wake up call.

So…now what?

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over the past 12 years, beginning in puberty, i’ve dealt with every type of anxiety symptom imaginable — obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, various stomach problems and the list goes on. but it doesn’t matter how it manifests — the problem is the anxiety behind it.

i only knew how to cope with the world by getting anxious about it. i felt like if i controlled everything around me, freaked out about stuff, worried my ass off…then i could avoid the pain that’s in life. now, of course, i didn’t choose to have this reaction – it’s just my natural inclination. but, obviously, life didn’t just stop because of how i reacted to it.

there’s ups, downs, complexities and mean people regardless of how i feel about it. and i’ve tried to do it my way for awhile, and how’s that worked out for me? not great!

so, i’ve had to learn how to cope with life as the crazy mess it is. uncertain, no guarantees, mistakes, heartbreak. then there’s good stuff too… babies, the feel of the ocean, laughter, hugs, good food, good music, friendships …it’s all a mess. and i am not exempt from it.

here are some important coping skills i’ve learned recently:

1.) acceptance is a common thread throughout several books i’ve read and was a common topic of my many therapy sessions. acceptance of my situation, my emotions and myself — this has really helped me tremendously.

2.) living in the moment is also a necessary life tool. living in “What If”-land never did me any good. living in the moment, sure i made mistakes and things didn’t always run smoothly, but i was much happier. it’s still very much a challenge for me but i’m trying.

3.) we can only control ourselves – not other people. worrying about what someone else is doing or thinking is a sorry waste of time. they’re going to think whatever they want whether you worry or not.

these are new life skills so patience is number one. it’s truly like learning how to walk. it’s gonna take awhile for you to get your footing. 

by the way, back in September, i made a post on tips from Dr. Claire Weekes. you should really check it out if you haven’t.

a whole bunch of posts are coming your way, gang!

wishing you the best,

anxietyflower

a big HELLO! to all my anxiety buddies out there — NEW and OLD! thanks for following me and i hope that i’ll be able to help, or if not, at least give you that “you are not alone”-vibe! because you’re not :)

group-hug

i haven’t posted anything in awhile, but i do have some posts partially-written and will be posting within the next few days. maybe even tonight. i’ll see what i can do!

hope you guys are doing okay today and always.

much love,

anxietyflower

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