It’s only in recent months that I’ve acknowledged to myself that I suffer from anxiety. Most people who know me wouldn’t guess this. I’m pretty good at putting on a facade of having it all together. As part of my healing journey, I’ve been working on unwinding my anxiety with authenticity.
When being honest with myself, I realize that anxiety has been part of my life since I was young. Even today, there’s a constant stream of ‘what if…’ scenarios that keep running through my head.
Signs of Anxiety
When I looked up the list of signs of anxiety, I realized that I’ve suffered from most of these at some point or another:
- Excessive Worry: Persistent and uncontrollable worry about a wide range of issues, often disproportionate to the actual situation.
- Restlessness: Feeling on edge, restless, or having a sense of impending doom.
- Muscle Tension: Tense muscles, leading to physical discomfort or even pain.
- Irritability: Being easily agitated or having a short temper.
- Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or fatigued even when not physically active.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Having trouble focusing on tasks or making decisions.
- Rapid Heartbeat: Experiencing a racing heart or palpitations.
- Shortness of Breath: Feeling breathless or experiencing shallow, rapid breathing.
- Sweating: Excessive sweating, especially on the palms, feet, or forehead.
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Nausea, stomachaches, diarrhea, or other digestive issues.
- Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded: Feeling unsteady, dizzy, or like you might faint.
- Panic Attacks: Sudden and intense episodes of fear or extreme anxiety that can include symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, and a sense of impending doom.
- Avoidance Behavior: Avoiding situations or places that trigger anxiety.
- Muscle Aches and Pains: Experiencing tension-related muscle aches and pains.
- Excessive Sweating: Profuse sweating, especially in stressful situations.
- Nervous Habits: Engaging in repetitive behaviors like nail-biting or fidgeting.
Anxiety is often a silent battle. It lurks beneath the surface, hidden behind the smiles and the confident exterior we present to the world. I have been able to function through the anxiety, but it’s something I’ve never acknowledged to myself.
Anxiety Is A Feeling
“Anxiety is simply an emotional reaction,” says Marla W. Deibler, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC.
Tom Corboy, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, reinforces the idea of acceptance: “Acceptance is critical because trying to wrangle or eliminate anxiety often worsens it. You would benefit by accepting reality as it is—and in that moment, reality includes anxiety.”
It’s okay to feel anxious; it’s a part of being human.
Suppressing this doesn’t help. I remind myself that anxiety is just a feeling, like any other feeling, and it’s time to embrace it.
The Power of Vulnerability
So, acceptance is key, and I’m glad that I’m acknowledging and accepting my anxiety. It makes me vulnerable, but it also keeps me authentic.
Going into my past, I realized that I have suffered anxiety attacks and have often felt like I’ll pass out in some situations. These I had brushed aside and not acknowledged.
I’ve also discovered that my anxiety makes me angry, because I feel out of control.
For a long time, I believed that acknowledging my anxiety would make me appear weak or vulnerable. By opening up about my anxiety, I’ve found a sense of liberation that I never thought possible. I’ve discovered that vulnerability doesn’t equate to weakness; instead, it is a source of strength.
Unwinding My Anxiety
I stumbled upon Dr. Judson Brewer’s refreshing new book, “Unwinding Anxiety.”
He delves into the deep-rooted connection between anxiety and our habits. He points out that our habits are like super glue – they stick around, and we can’t just wish them away. This is because, believe it or not, our brains find some sort of reward in these habits, even if they’re anxiety-inducing.
Realizing that anxiety is not just a feeling but a habit, that one can work on, has really changed my perceptions.
I’m learning to be more mindful when I feel anxious by closely observing how anxiety affects me each time it occurs. I have started to take note of the physical sensations – the tightness in the chest, the lump in the throat, and how I struggle to concentrate.
This means, that I’ve started to look at anxious moments as opportunities for self-discovery and therefore, healing.
Here you can read some mindfulness-related behaviors that Dr Brewer suggests to integrate into habit loops when a trigger arises. I find prayer, meditation, journaling and Morning Pages are all ways that I can work on my anxiety.
This is Day 2 of My 66 Day Journey of Healing Through Writing And Sharing
Connect about #WritingToHeal