You know what makes me anxious about my anxiety? The way it just happens to me. Like, I’m walking along in the garden of life, picking daisies and enjoying the warm sunshine on my back, when all of the sudden, I become aware of something lurking behind a bush. I catch movement out of the corner of my eye, but can never quite put my finger on it. I run through the questions in my mind: did I leave the gate open? Did I invite it in, somehow? Did I miss the warning signs that it was going to camp out in my body? Nope, nope, nope. It just happens, out of the blue, and that makes me anxious as hell. Anxious-er.

For those who’ve never experienced low-grade, chronic anxiety, it’s not like the panic disorder that you might imagine. God bless the people who deal with that – that is debilitating. This is more like that feeling you get when you’re creeping up the tracks on a roller coaster and you’re nearing the top. Except instead of the relief of going over the top and getting off the coaster, you just keep creeping higher and higher, almost going over the top, but never feeling relief. Like, for days. Weeks. Or, it’s like having bugs crawling inside your body, through your muscles, burrowing along a little super highway up your biceps, down your legs, in your stomach.  And that just makes me anxious as hell. Anxious-er. You feel me?

All this to say, if you run across me, please don’t be offended. By anything. I might talk too much or I might be snappy or I might not actually recognize the words coming out of your mouth – it’s not you, it’s me. No, really, it’s me. And no, you can’t fix it, and you’ll make me anxious-er by trying.

You see, when I’m driving along, taking my kid to dance rehearsal, and my throat is itching and my jacket is getting tighter by the second, and I feel the stress hormones coursing through every vein of my body, all that innocent child has to do is ask a question about the interesting story on NPR and SNAP! Mom loses it. I say shitty things like, “Google it!” or “Seriously? How should I know?” It’s not me talking, here. It’s the fact that I’m focusing really hard on not jumping out of a moving vehicle to escape the claustrophobia of anxiety. Talking to me at that point will just add a cloud of words that will make me feel even more trapped than I already feel.

The shit thing is, anxiety is also a tricky MF’er. It says, “You know what would make you feel better? Booze.” And then I remember those months here and there throughout my life that booze indeed did NOT make me feel better, but I thought it did, so I kept at it in not-so-healthy amounts until I woke up with an achy liver and pulled it together. And so I tell anxiety that maybe I’ll have some honey-lavender tea instead and it snorts with derision and says, “Yeah, good luck with that. See you tonight after you go to bed and your husband is breathing too loud.”

So what is one to do? Yeah, you’ve got me. I don’t actually know. Mental disorders are the last great frontier of medicine, and one that isn’t taken seriously enough, probably because it’s hard to understand. It’s hard to fix something that doesn’t have an 1 + 1 = 2 answer.

In the meantime, I’ll be practicing some radical self care, which for me means sticking my nose in the neck of my horse, focusing on the purring of the kitten in my lap, lifting some heavy weights, and drinking 45 cups of lavender tea a day.

Just know, you’re not alone. I would love to hear some of your best coping strategies! Comment below, and please don’t say booze.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash