In The Spirit of Anxiety
Hi there. When I started this blog, it was to talk about my journey with mental illness. If you’ve read it over the years, you know that I have covered a variety of topics. Today, I’m taking it back to the core of why I started it – my brain. The past two years of my life have been bananas. Personally and professionally, I’ve found myself faced with tough decisions and cried buckets of tears. Just as I thought things were getting better, COVID-19 decided to make its grand entrance and things haven’t been right since.
Don’t get me wrong. The time I’ve spent with my family has been invaluable. My kids spent almost all of the last school year virtual and we bonded in ways that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. My husband and I have worked from home for over a year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. My family needed time to heal together from some trauma and the lockdown gave us just the time to do that. However it also did something else – it allowed my anxiety to take over. It probably hasn’t been blatant to most, or maybe it has, but it’s here and as much as I’d love for it to go away, she’s taken a seat and made herself at home.
Here’s the thing about my anxiety – it manifests itself in all kinds of ways. I’ll go to bed but not sleep soundly, I’ll absentmindedly shop for things I don’t need, spend hours doom scrolling social media, and more times than not, I find myself sitting up or laying in bed with my teeth clenched and my shoulders in my ears. For almost two years, I’ve sat around waiting for the bottom to fall out. And it’s exhausting. So I decided to do something about it. Last week I decided to start working out. For 5 days, I’ve gotten up and gone to the local pool to walk and jog in the water. I leave that pool feeling energized and ready to conquer the day…but there’s a catch.
I’ve written about this before but in case you don’t know my story, in college I lost almost 100 pounds. I worked out 5 days a week, counted calories, even tried bulimia. I looked and felt “great”. I got so many compliments about my efforts and my looks and that helped fuel the obsession. I’ve hesitated for years to make serious attempts to diet or lose weight again because if you’ve ever been in that place, you do not want to go back. I told myself that this time was different. I’m older now and my focus isn’t on how I look but instead on how I feel and that I wouldn’t obsess over it (which is a way my anxiety manifest itself). But this morning, I had to admit that I was lying to myself. This morning I chose sleep (because again – I haven’t been sleeping great) over working out. I had reached the point of tears from being tired and decided that since I have to adult tonight and teach my class, I should probably rest. However, my anxiety over being a “quitter” was getting the best of me. Other people push through. Other people can be awake 18 hours a day with no problem. I had ‘other peopled’ myself into a frenzy. I was in a meeting this morning holding back tears because all I could think about was – why didn’t I just work out? What would my husband think? What would my daughter (she’s been going with me because if there’s a pool involved she’s there) think? What would my mom think? And then it hit me. The anxiety monster had crept into this too. Instead of recognizing the fact that I made the best decision for myself (side note: Hashimoto’s disease can make the usual aches and pains from working out ten times worse; I feel great for about an hour after I work out and then I feel like the Tin Man with no oil), I was worried about the what-ifs. Instead of patting myself on the back from going to doing no exercise to doing something, I was talking myself out of it altogether.
Friends, I don’t really have any wise words to say on this matter; nothing neat and pretty to tie it all together. But I do offer this – this world is so chaotic for so many people right now. Many of us are biting our nails through it because as much as we realize it’s out of our hands, our brains don’t. We’re tired and weary. Now, please don’t worry. I haven’t lost hope; I know from very lived experiences that my God can and will get me through to the other side of this valley. However, sometimes I get anxious about what’s in the next valley and I’d be lying if I wasn’t honest about how I feel.
Until next time…