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Today we’re getting personal about anxiety. My anxiety, specifically.
Recently, the wonderful Kelly over at She, Mindfully posted a list of writing prompts for anxiety. Now I love to journal so I dove right into answering the questions. To my very pleasant surprise, a lot of them were things I’ve never really thought about when it comes to my disorder.
Since the questions really got me thinking about anxiety on a deeper level, I wanted to share my answers in the hopes they might help someone else.
In the interests of time, I’ve only shared the questions I resonated with the most.
When did your anxiety start?
I think I’ve always been a Nervous Nelly. But it really started to get bad during my late twenties. Before that I think I had too much dysthymia (constant low grade depression) to really feel the anxiety.
In my late twenties, a lot of things improved for me environment and relationship wise. This helped my depression a ton. But once that lifted, the anxiety (specifically OCD and phobias associated with PTSD) seemed to surge in to fill the gap.
What does your anxiety FEEL like in your body? Where do you notice it, how would you describe the sensation?
For me, anxiety is excruciating because I’m an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). This means I feel sensations and emotions about 10x more intensely than neurotypical people with anxiety.
So the pain in my neck, muscles, and head (often in the form of migraines) is unbearable at times. When it’s really bad, I also get severe stomach pain, dizziness, and chest pain. Oh and my teeth always, always hurt (from grinding and clenching my jaw).
Overall, I’d describe the situation as alternating between being filled with angry bees or being crushed by a giant invisible fist.
Visualize your life without anxiety. What does it look like?
Ah, it would be glorious!
First off, I’d wake up without the ubiquitous tension headache and accompanying panic attack. Then I’d be able to tackle the day in a good mood with tons of energy. I’d actually be able to work out more than a few minutes before quitting.
I’d have fun with my family instead of feeling like a burden on them all the time. And I’d be able to hold down a career again.
What has your anxiety stopped you from accomplishing this past week? Month?
I’ve been struggling hard with my anxiety this month. When it gets this bad, I get super depressed and irritable so it’s stopped me from connecting with my husband in a positive way. It’s also kept me from writing as much as I’d like.
What are 2 things you wish other people knew in relation to your anxiety?
Number one, I wish people would understand how physically painful anxiety is. And two I wish more people understood that the signs of anxiety vary person to person and it’s not like what you see on t.v.
What would you like to see in your future self? Are there any steps you can start taking now to get you there?
Great question! I’d really like to see myself get better at self-soothing instead of needing so much outside support to calm my anxiety. Right now I’m working on taking brain breaks when I start to feel overwhelmed, journaling my worries, and moving more. All those things give me energy and perspective to deal with the panic.
I could probably go on about how much I dislike anxiety all day, but I’d rather end this on a positive note.
Yes, having anxiety is no walk in the park, but it has helped me learn to take care of myself so much better. I’m also become super resilient, creative, and artistic as a result of my disorder.
Best of all, anxiety has led me to be more empathic, more compassionate towards the pain of others. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
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