Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anxiety. The Personality Killer.

For some time now I've been happy with my life.  It's really an odd sensation for me because with the exception of the last couple of years here in Chicago, I've not been happy.  Now children that I love and love me, don't get me wrong.  You being in my life has been my only real lasting happiness.  When I look back on my life I realize a great portion of it is worry about all the bad things that can happen.  Financial, employment (they go hand in hand) safety, children, (they also go hand in hand) my health, divorce, and breakups (both my parents and mine), fears both imagined and very real.  And I understand that at a very young age I was taught to fear things.  That my parents in teaching me to be brave and be prepared for the worst, put all the worst possible outcomes in my small impressionable head.  And while that lesson has been a godsend in helping me survive in the hard cruel world, and raise my kids mostly alone, I also realize that worry and fear seem to be my natural state.

Anxiety has been my friend for so long it's almost impossible for me to stop it now.  However, I try to relax and stop my brain from imagining the worst possible outcome to every situation.   And as accurate as my gut is I have to admit that most of the time those worst case scenarios rarely happens as I imagined.   I guess the fact that I'm often right that something is off, but rarely right about what or who is what keeps me listening to it.  It's better to be warned than blindsided.  So I sit in an almost constant state of nervous corked action ready to spring, but not knowing what direction I need to pop.

I hate that I'm used to this.  That I've been disappointed in life so much with my choice of careers and employment; or lovers and husbands, that I automatically am in "wait for the other shoe to drop" mode.  Which is so unfair to myself and the people that want to be in my life.  I don't even trust my friends to stay around long because they never do.  No one does, with the exception of my kids.  Which I'm very lucky in that area. 

But for the last two years, I've been trying as hard as I can to stop myself from worrying too much.  And let me tell you it's more difficult than you can know if you don't already suffer from anxiety.  Anxiety is a killer of hope and dreams because the voices in your head that tell you 'you won't be liked,' or 'you are not good enough' or 'you can't be successful at that' are very convincing.  And they keep me home, away from the people that I imagine will fulfill my fears.

Things are better for me here than they were in Wisconsin, as far as trying to keep the fear at bay.  My family and friends are a great comfort in talking me off the ledge.  And as much of an independent woman as I've become over the last twenty years, I do miss a strong man at my side telling me it's going to be ok.   Sometimes I feel like I'm unloading on my kids too much or my friends, but I'm sure they would say 'it's what friends are for', or 'you are not unloading, mom'. 

I envy people that can truly relax without any self or prescribed medication.  I don't take meds anymore because my depression is gone, and my anxiety I have learned to control by meditation and positive self-talk instead of focusing on all the negative.  Also sharing my fears with loved ones helps.  It helps me to hear them say that I'm over thinking or I'll be alright.  Which is true.  I'm not a quitter.  Almost everything I can imagine I can imagine a positive outcome.  So if I focus on that instead of the negative one, I calm down.  I know that sounds very simple and basic, but when your heart is racing and you are panicking because you feel like you are trapped with no way out of a situation, it's harder than you think to quiet that voice.

And yet, to look at me, you'd think I had myself together.  To listen to my advice when a friend asks, you'd think I know the answers.  Invisible illness, we all have one.  And yet we assume everyone else has this life thing figured out.  But you know what. they don't.  We are all just trying to survive and wake up and get out of bed and have a life.  But some days.....that just doesn't happen, or it happens and then that gut goes off, and you are a cat waiting to pounce, watching everything too critically.

And suddenly the great conversationalist or writer or actress or dancer or person I know I am disappears behind a film of, 'they won't like you anyway so why try.'  Self-doubt, low self-esteem, and fear are my constant companions now.  And on a good day, I can see them, and I get up, get dressed and go out anyway.  But I still feel alone in a crowd.