“Now is the age of anxiety”: Fact

There is something in my life that I only share with a few people. On that note, I am currently asking myself why I am writing a blog post about it to share with potentially 7 billion people – (if my blog ever gets those kind of hits, I don’t think I’d be complaining).  Anyhow, I am deciding in this moment that sharing with you guys might do me some good.

If you listen closely to Body Work by Morgan Page ft. Tegan and Sara, you’ll notice the lyrics (behind the awesome beat).

I still wanna see you tonight
Will you be around?
I still wanna get you alone
Will you be around? (be around, be around)
Can I take all the steps that I’m planning tonight
Without risking it all?
Can I make all the moves I’m making tonight
Without hurting you bad

You do your body work
I feel my pulse working overtime
You do your body work
I feel my pulse working overtime
I get shy in these lights
I feel your body doin overtime
I get shy in these lights
I feel my pulse doin overtime

Okay, now take out the sexual motives of this song, and you have anxiety. Anxiety… that’s my big secret!

Now if you could care less, I urge you to close this window right now.

Good, you’re still here. I like you.

Let me explain a little. I don’t know how long I have had anxiety, but it has been at least six years. It could go back farther to childhood, but until recently I always just thought it was a part of who I was, just my personality. My anxiety symptoms began increasing six years ago, at least, to a point where they were very noticeable and started interfering with my life.

I get anxious over so many things – be it social situations, waiting for someone to text back, jobs, sleep, family dinners, hiking the grind, interviews, or basically anything that is not normally in my daily routine. My symptoms can be described, I like to say, like my insides are turned to stone. Breathing gets harder, deeper, and faster (I sigh a lot). My heart either races or I can just feel every beat echoing throughout my body. I get a kind of cold sweat. When it’s really bad, my teeth chatter and I shake. I have chronic stomach aches – I get one sometimes every day, usually in the evening. When I am in this kind of physical pain, it makes me feel very down and emotional because I hate the feeling of thinking something is wrong with me.

Through experience, I have found that the only thing that helps me get through my anxiety on a day-to-day basis is talking to someone who cares. Even if they don’t say much, just someone to vent to who doesn’t look at me sideways or roll their eyes. The best is when you can talk to someone who doesn’t think they know how to fix you, but just understands how you feel. My grandmother once told me that when I feel anxious I should have a glass of wine – “It really calms the nerves!” Well, you can ask my sister how that kind of remedy turns out.

Sometimes when I talk to people about what ever thing I am feeling anxious about, they’ll say something like “Oh, well why don’t you just forget about it. It’s not a big deal. You shouldn’t be worrying about these kinds of things.” True, that person may be correct, but when I am anxious, it’s not like I don’t already know my feelings are sometimes irrational or stupid. But that’s the frustrating part.

For instance, I once noticed that one of my friends had unfollowed me on Twitter and I became very upset. Now, even I know how stupid that sounds, but it was eating at me so much I couldn’t think about anything else. I went for a walk with my Mom and told her that the revelation was making my lungs feel like bricks. I was worried that the person didn’t like me, maybe a tweet had offended them, was I annoying, was it something I said? My mom offered that perhaps that person was cleaning out their Twitter. “OBVIOUSLY, MOM, THAT’S NOT IT!” Granted, my mom has never used Twitter.

After a few minutes explaining how being unfollowed by a friend on Twitter was similar to being unfriended on Facebook, and when one of your good friends does that, it raises some questions, my mom was beginning to understand. We finished the conversation with her telling me this person had caused me a lot of grief in the past anyway, and I already knew they weren’t the type of person who made me feel very good, so why should it matter? She taught me about learning how to accept that not everyone has to like me and I should focus on the people who do. Problem solved, although I must admit, it still totally irks me. Don’t tell her.

So that is just one example of a situation that made me anxious and how I dealt with it. My mom is usually the best at making me feel better, like all moms are. I do know that I can’t live with my mom forever, and that is another thing that makes me feel anxious, but I am working on that.

I have come very far in the last year. Though I still have anxiety on a daily basis, especially in special situations like last week when I had my first week at a new job, the symptoms are not as severe or as debilitating. The funny thing about anxiety is that there are no external indicators, so there is a 99% chance that anyone who has spent time with me has been around me when I have been anxious, yet they probably had no idea. Again, it’s not something I tell many people – until now obviously – I guess because I’ve always been kind of ashamed that I wasn’t “easy-going” like everyone else.

And that is why I am never going to be a doctor.

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2 responses to ““Now is the age of anxiety”: Fact

  1. Thank you for your honesty. For me, symptoms of anxiety such as you described here, often escalate as a result of thinking “this is so embarrassing”. The thought that you are losing your composure (in public, no less!) because of your own inner monologues, perpetuates the anxiety-shame cycle. I agree with you that the only way to get through it is to find someone who is patient with you and talks you through the elevated heart-rate, the empty pit in your stomach, the clammy hands, and doesn’t just dismiss your suffering with a short “oh, you’ll be fine”. Thanks again for this!

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