On Anxiety

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Photo by Martin Wessely

I’ve been tackling with the idea of getting this out in the open for a
while now. I struggled with it only because I wanted to consider how
personal one does get on a blog, especially when it comes to the
workings of the mind. Even right there, I’m cautious about saying
“mental illness.” When we hear that in the news lately, we are
bombarded with thoughts of unstable figures committing heinous acts in
public settings.

So you know the specs of anxiety: heart racing, dizziness, racing
thoughts, etc. My anxiety has co-existed with episodic depression that
has fought my well-being for years. Even though I walked around work
with a smile on my face toward co-workers, no one knew that morning I
considered staying in bed. That forcing clothes on each day was a
painful feat. I suffered with chronic migraines–occasionally with
aura–and observed that the debilitating pain exacerbated my ET,
causing a shaking performance similar to an alcoholic experiencing
withdrawal.

We’re talking about anxiety–with the occasional depression. With the
stigma “mental illness” is on society, it’s hard to fathom or even
admit “(Do) I have a mental illness(?)”

I am an anxious person. I’m also extremely hard on myself. I began to
realize my behaviors are more OCD-related, including my incessant need
for lists and calendars being a mode of escape to reach further. I
have refused help, only because I feel talking about everything would
make me more anxious.

Until recently, I was having a venting session with a friend when I
finally had a realization, which was a dumb-yet-obvious query: “What
the hell am I working so hard for?”

Really. I’d like to know.

Appreciation?
Well, my family and close friends are pretty impressed with the cool
shit I’ve been doing. So, that can’t be it.

Happiness?
Bing! Bing! Bing! Merv, tell ’em what they’ve won!

Those plans and lists and colored-coded calendars? Those are goals and
tasks that are given the green-light to High Expectation-ville. That
is the little drug that gives the high that there is some worth. Each
little tick off the list….ahhh, yeah gimme the good stuff.

My work is my relationship, which I don’t give much time for anything
else. Around the time of my realization, a particular heartfelt text
came through telling me to relax.

Relax? How do I? What? Really?

Anxiety has granted me two extreme emotions: anger and overwhelmed
frustration, usually as a result of my search for perfectionism. I
don’t seek approval or validation from anyone, but I expect a lot from
myself. I’m changing that.

I’ve started considering some of the things in life that bring me a
little sliver of happiness. In the broad sense, I want to be passive
and say there is absolutely nothing. I started giving this some
further thought and decided to break apart my days, pinpointing where
I may have cracked a smile or had a moment of calm or clarity.

*A few saved texts from friends that are of some positive worth. I’ve
read these when I am melting into a salty puddle.
*My cat. Studies say a cat’s purr can alleviate blood pressure and my
chubby fella sounds like a motorboat! He offers his attention at the
most appropriate times and punctuates his head scratching session with
a tiny “love bite.” He’s the best.
*Sunday mornings. I tend to wake up a little early on Sunday mornings,
at least an hour or two before I should actually be out of bed. This
time is spent reading blogs or an actual book.

There you have it.

Do you suffer from/experience anxiety? How do you cope with it?

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