"A" is for Anxiety

Although I am awesome at depression, I still stink at anxiety.

I have accepted that my depression is really misfiring neurons that result in erratic levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in my brain. I don't feel guilty about having this issue and I openly discuss it with people so they will know how to treat me and also feel better about their own stuff.

It will often take me a couple of days to see the slide in my mood, but once I recognize it, I actually feel a little better. I still say, "Oh! I'm just depressed again" every time in my head and then I laugh and then I cry and take a nap. Then I confide in my husband that I'm feeling "low" and he smiles his beautiful smile that says, "Duh." And I feel so loved as I wade through the gray days and the even grayer days.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is still just awful. 

Mommy on Anxiety

I despise the snappy barking voice it has and the restless feeling that something is not right. Rarely does my anxiety devolve into panic anymore. I am lucky and I am prepared. I get to do what I love (write, be a homemaker, watch my kids grow up). I get to do these things in a controlled, comfortable environment. On purpose.

Yet I have not accepted this mild level of recurring anxiety. Sometimes I still try to force myself not to be anxious... which is hilarious when you think about it. Especially since I have spent so much time cultivating my message about depression: you can't just get over it. You can look at it, be okay with it, treat it and be kind to yourself, but you can't magically make it go away.

Two things have brought me clarity:

1.  It isn't always possible to identify what stressor has triggered my anxiety in the moment and that's okay. 

2.  I trust myself to handle this. Dealing with anxiety properly boils down to not being afraid of it. It will end.

Here is my personal protocol for dealing with racing thoughts, unwanted sweatiness, and tightness in my chest in the moment:

FIRST - Long deep breathing. I sit with my spine straight and fill my lungs starting from the bottom. I empty them from the top down, aiming for the whole breath to take 60 seconds.

SECOND - I repeat the mantra "I am. I AM. The entire universe is within me." as many times as I need to remember that I am infinitely bigger than my anxiety.


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