On Anxiety

This is the post that I keep starting and then deleting and then starting again.

In the realm of the great oversharing internet, one barely known blogger talking about anxiety probably doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore, but, for me, putting it out there that I’ve been struggling with something that feels like I should be able to control it but can’t is a tough thing.

I often feel like I’m somebody who doesn’t have an awful lot of natural talent but who is a workhorse. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’m a grinder who will get things done. I’ve often fallen into the trap that if things aren’t going well than the solution is to just work harder. But I can’t seem to hard work my way through this one.

My anxiety started this fall and is, I am quite certain, tied to the stress of having a demanding job plus being in grad school plus having a family (about which there are some guilty feelings because I feel like I am a half-assed parent sometimes and my husband is getting the raw end of the deal). My anxiety tends to manifest itself in two ways: worrying about health (mine and the kids) and in feeling physically like I am on the verge of getting sick. I think the worrying about health thing is connected to feeling like if I get sick (or if the kids get sick and then we all drop like dominoes after that) then all of the plates that I am spinning will come crashing down. I’ll have to miss class or I’ll get sick on my work trip or I’ll miss a deadline…or…or…or….

And, oh delightful irony, the worry about health and the anxiety in general has given me a low grade persistent stomach ache that seems to flare up for a week or two at a time. Nothing like a lingering stomach ache to make one feel less health related anxiety!

(Note: never Google “persistent stomachache” unless you’d like to add ovarian cancer to your list of anxiety)

(Related note: I do not have ovarian cancer…which I found out after I Googled and then sprinted into the doctor’s office to get checked. Actual diagnosis? Drum roll please…Anxiety!)

I’m following my doctor’s advice and am trying to work on improving some self-care things like getting more sleep and drinking less caffeine. I’ve noticed exercise seems to help a bit, as does focusing on one thing at a time and not trying to multitask. It doesn’t come naturally to me yet though, so sometimes I struggle with doing the things that will make me feel better. I stay up too late, numbing myself with TV and then I have a giant Diet Coke in the morning because I am tired (and addicted). I feel tired and so I don’t want to exercise.

But I’m going to keep trying because this is the only life I have and what is the alternative, right?

I will have about three weeks off of school in about a month, so I’ll be curious to see if that helps. To get to that point, I have to write three final papers, two reflection papers and finish a handful of assignments. I can do this. I think I can do this. I have to be able to do this.

Maybe I should go take a walk.

One thought on “On Anxiety

  1. Gretchen says:

    Have you checked out “mindfulness” at all? I’ve probably “studied” it just the bare minimum and wouldn’t call what I do meditation, but it does have a way of slowing down the brain. Kind of a be-in-the-moment thing, I am doing just this one thing right now. Another thing I’ve done is say to myself, like kind of a mantra – I have plenty of time. I have plenty of time. Over and over. Good luck!

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