This is another topic that I could write about all day, one I know many of you can relate to. I have no problem publicly addressing my anxiety because it is a big part of who I am. I often make jokes about it, sometimes inappropriate ones, but that’s just my way of dealing with pretty much everything. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to speak candidly about it but I do respect those of you who keep it private.
I personally was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks in my early 20’s but truth be told, I worried excessively as a kid too. I remember one night circa 1984/85 lying awake for hours after my mom had tucked me in, quietly listening to my little AM/FM alarm clock radio trying so hard to fall asleep, irrationally worrying that I was the only person in the whole wide world still awake and what if I would never be able to sleep again and what if I couldn’t fall asleep because there was something wrong with me? I remember Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love is” played once early on and then again a while later. The second time it played made me realize just how long I had been trying to fall asleep and I started feeling all the physical symptoms I couldn’t identify as a 7 year old, but looking back, I believe that was my first ever panic attack. (Disclaimer: I’m not completely blaming Foreigner for my mental health issues, I’m just saying that song IS creepy AF and to this day is still one of my triggers.)
For me, anxiety seems to come in waves. I have gone months, even years without letting it hold me back at all. At 24 I decided on a whim, as a single mother, to quit my job, sell my house, pack up my kids and move 750 miles away from everyone and everything I had ever known and start a brand new life. UM..WHAT? It’s almost impossible for me to believe I was EVER so adventurous. I don’t even like to VACATION that far from home. But, that’s a story for another time…
Ultimately, all roads lead me to the life I’m living now, and I’m not tryna get all religious on you here but I do believe that God had his hand in it and was guiding me safely to where I was meant to be. But now, I’m here living my real life and if I’m being completely honest, anxiety is always lingering under the surface, even during my best days. AND IT SUCKS! I’m a high energy, over-thinker by nature so I often spend a ridiculous amount of my time feeling anxious about really stupid shit. I know I mentioned in my first blog that I suffer from health anxiety. In turn, I am extremely focused on and aware of every single ache, pain, twinge, gurgle, creek and crack in my body. I create worse case scenarios in my head and I spiral out of control from there.
Headache? Probably either an aneurysm or brain tumor.
Sore calf muscle? Could be deep vein thrombosis.
Sore neck? Definitely Meningitis.
Cramps? Likely Ovarian cancer.
You name it, I’ve convinced myself I was dying from it and I’ve obsessed over it until it inevitably went away. There is no sense in trying to talk me down once I start googling.
It drives me crazy when people casually talk about having a panic attack. Like, are they saying “I had a panic attack in the elevator” because they LITERALLY HAD an actual panic attack or are they being dramatic to get a point across? Was their elevator experience something along the lines of: “I was very nervous in the elevator. I could feel my heart beating faster and my hands were sweaty” or more like: “I thought I was going to die of suffocation in that elevator, I was sweating profusely, my heart almost exploded out of my chest, my vision tunneled, I visualized myself shoving everyone out of the way and banging on the doors screaming for help and now I have diarrhea”? Which is it Becky?! Don’t just throw the term “panic attack” around, because that shit is real and we don’t allow posers into our club.
With me it is a vicious cycle. What I am most anxious about is BEING ANXIOUS. What if I have a panic attack on the field trip with the kids? What if I lose control in the middle of the crowd at that concert? What if I make a fool out of myself on the airplane…What if , what if, what if… I know that all of these what ifs are holding me back from so many things. It’s sad and frustrating. But every day I wake up, set my intentions to be the best version of me (or at the very least not kill anyone) and to be grateful. Some days I barely make it through breakfast before I throw those intentions right out the window but other days I shine like a mother effing rock star. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?