Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. On pins and needles. Climbing the wall. Butterflies in the stomach.
If you’ve ever felt anxious before, you’ve probably heard at least one of these sayings. Most everyone has some form of anxiety over certain situations, such as the feeling you get before a job interview, before going on a blind date or while on a rollercoaster. One definition of anxiety describes it as a state of uneasiness and apprehension as it relates to future events. Sometimes we become jittery, have trouble concentrating or feel like we have knots or butterflies in the stomach.
Normal amounts of anxiety can be an asset when we come face to face with danger; it helps us to perform our best under pressure. For some people, like me, anxiety has a negative effect. There are times when I continue to feel anxious even when I logically know that the situation is not appropriate for the high amount of concern I have. It can lead to an overwhelming, exhausting and sometimes paralyzing existence.
I don’t know many people who actually enjoy talking about their ‘issues’. Growing up in my family, a concrete physical problem that you could actually lay your eyes on, like a broken leg, was open for discussion. However, problems that you couldn’t see such as bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, depression, or anxiety disorders were not talked about. If you were depressed, you just needed to peel yourself out of that bed and go take a walk. Why, that’d fix you right up. I don’t consider these topics as taboo. Everyone has issues – everyone. Some are just better at hiding their issues than others. Today, you’re going to meet a side of me that I’ve never written about: living and dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety disorder was my worst nightmare when I was heavy. If there was a planned event in my future and it happened to be something that I had reservations about, my first reaction was to ease the stress of the upcoming event.
Food is and has always been my personal form of medication.
To relieve my stress or anxiety over what the event was, I’d eat. And eat. Controlling this type of anxiety is especially difficult because if that energy isn’t expended with what I know will bring me immediate comfort (food) then I become even more anxious and obsess over the event; then the cycle worsens.
Common things that trigger this kind of anxiety: stepping outside my comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why it’s hard for me to challenge myself with new things; my anxiety gets in the way. Thankfully, I have enough insight to know that I must continue asserting myself and confronting my fears so I don’t become a stunted human being. Still, it’ll always be a task that I wrestle with.
When I am at my worst, when my anxiety is at it’s most intense, it becomes a different animal entirely: I stop eating. My body treats food as an enemy and I physically cannot tolerate it. This happened last year when my husband’s mother became terminally ill and I lost my job within months of each other. My body all but shut itself down and I couldn’t eat without becoming ill. Episodes like this can last for several days and as a result, I’m apt to see major swings on the scale.
High volumes of stress or suffering from anxiety disorder not only affects my weight but other areas as well: my sleep pattern becomes erratic, I notice irregular heartbeats and have trouble concentrating. I also find it difficult to sit still.
I’ve always envied people who are able to thrive during stressful situations. I sit and watch, in awe of their cool composure and wonder why I can’t be more like them. Oh, I can fake it when I have to, but my body’s actions give me away every single time.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, this girl has just about had her fill of trying to fix it by herself. This girl has finally thrown her hands in the air and is waving the little white flag.
Today, I am not anxious. I am not under stress. I am hopeful. I have started a new medication which I am hoping will reduce my anxiety and keep me from feeling like less of a…well, a – flake.
So if you will, allow me to raise my prescription bottle for a toast:
Here’s to new meds, breathing exercises, a long island iced tea every once in a while and as many vacations as the budget can handle.
And, here’s to leading a life where anxiety takes the backseat, and leaves the driving up to me for a change.