After anxiety attack days – like yesterday – I like to update you all and make sure you know I don’t think I’m a hot mess and my life is a disaster.
I’d been feeling anxiety since the weekend. I had two anxiety dreams, but other than soccer starting, I couldn’t really pinpoint what was bothering me. Things spiraled out of control Wednesday. I went running in hopes of mitigating my stress, but that caused more. I got off the treadmill and felt horrible about stopping after 2.5 miles. My goal is always 3.1. I came home and Carlos greeted me at the door and guilt poured over me. I felt like I’m not good enough for him. He used to have four family members now it’s just me, and I stop home for two hours and leave again. I saw two emails that stressed me out: 1 about the soccer team rosters and schedules. The second was about my gym membership, asking if I was ready to commit to the (steeply discounted) price I’d been holding out for. I sat in my chair feeling like my world was flying around me. I had to get going to Spanish, but I wanted to skip, feeling like I hadn’t studied enough and wasn’t good enough.
But I wiped my tears away, put some drops in my eyes, grabbed my books and went to class. And after about five minutes in class, I put everything else behind me. I had fun with my classmates, as we wrote funny sentences using only the words we know (Mine: My colleague is eating grapes at the grocery store).
A little anxiety resurfaced today, but I kept in mind three pieces of advice
- From Caley (my therapist): If you name your feelings, they lose power. “I’m feeling anxious because …”
- From a yoga teacher: All you have to do is breathe. Anything else that happens is a bonus.
- From some user feedback I read today at work: “Fix your shit!!!!!!!!!” (I joked to a co-worker that I was going to print that one out and hang it up on my desk.)
After work, I hung out with Navani. We had our own group therapy session. We commiserated about feeling anxious and how once things get going, we can spiral them out of control in seconds. As we were getting up to leave, we both seemed lighter. Not bad for skipping a workout to sit in the park with frozen yogurt, right?
On the train back to Manhattan, I read “The Gifts of Imperfection,” by Brene Brown. Amazingly, the chapter I started is called, “Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle.” I reread this part about 10 times, “I don’t need to figure out how to keep going with this level of anxiety. I need to figure out how to be less anxious.”
It’s not that people who live “wholehearted lifestyles,” the focus of this book, don’t have anxiety. They are just anxiety aware. Bells went off in my head. I’m anxiety aware! I knew what was happening to me this weekend. I recognized all the signs. I got out my anxiety toolbox and mitigated it. I named my feelings and I breathed in and out. I went for a run (which usually helps) and I allowed myself an evening off. My life is never going to be anxiety-free — and I don’t want it to be. That would mean not experiencing new things — but I know how to lessen the effects, and I did it. Two years ago, I would have sat with that heavy feeling in my belly, unable to eat for a week.
Instead of listening to “All Alone” from Fun. Again tonight, I’ve got “All Alright” on repeat.
I’m all alright.