A few months ago I proudly proclaimed to a therapist “I don’t deal with anxiety anymore”. I had declared myself anxiety free and in a way I’d forgotten what it was like to want to curl into a ball on the bathroom floor and cry over the stress of practically nothing. Without life impending anxiety for practically a year I assumed anxiety was an issue I left behind when I graduated college and moved into the grown up world. I had no idea why my anxiety had disappeared, I just assumed it must have something to do with tests and papers and schoolwork and no longer was applicable in my life. Anxiety free I still wasn’t problem free. I still felt angry or sad or frustrated but not anxious.
It turns out my diagnosis may have been wrong. Perhaps anxiety doesn’t cure its-self completely and perpetually. Too bad though right? The past week I’ve woken up each morning feeling as if a weight is pressing against my chest. The feeling of impending doom surrounding me and the normal stressors that we all have to cope with seem all too stressful to handle. As if life is slipping through my fingertips I recognize this familiar yet unwelcome feeling eating away at my insides.
Tuesday my anxiety reached the worst peak it’s hit in over a year. Without much of a rhyme or reason the day seemed to feel as if it was spiraling out of control. I couldn’t deal with something as simple as a cancelled debit card. I couldn’t cope with Pierre tugging a little too hard as we walked. The dishes in the sink had to go uncleaned because the very thought of doing anything other than running as fast as my body possibly could move or falling under my covers and trying to sleep, the very thought of anything else exhausted me.
Anxiety is like a storm within me. A day can be going perfectly smoothly, the skies can be sunny and bright, but the moment it hits the whole day (sometimes even the whole week) falls to pieces. Anxiety is an isolating feeling. Talking about it can seem trite because if you’ve dealt with anxiety before you often realize your feelings seem much bigger than the issues at hand. Who wants to admit “I don’t want to get out of bed today because the thought of taking a shower, running errands and paying bills seems too big and too overwhelming to handle”. I called Jordan in the middle of a state of panic hoping to distract myself from the problems I’d disproportionately enlarged in my mind.
“What are you feeling worried about?” He asked encouragingly.
“Terrorism? The presidential election? Missing my little brother? Filing my taxes? Cleaning out my car?” I answered confused by my own response. But I didn’t want to talk about those things even the smaller issues that would be easier to alleviate. I wanted distraction, I wanted to force the sinking feeling in my stomach to pause just for a moment.
Anxiety doesn’t work that way though. We can’t just pause the chaotic whirlwind of worry, negativity and doubt with a snap. I’ve learned breathing techniques, I’ve practiced journaling and a hot bath when possible can work wonders but none of these exercises erase a wave anxiety. You just have to ride it out, so that’s what I’m doing.
Grabbing my metaphorical umbrella and doing my best to ride out this wave on anxiety. If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety does it feel like a big anxiety storm to you too? How do you keep from drowning and allowing anxiety to overrun your life?
All Photos shot by Nathan Peppin Photography. He was a blast to work with and isn’t his work lovely?