30 Jun

On Anxiety.

Oh hey. My name is Holly, and I have anxiety.

 

now-im-a-superhero

 

You probably all know that I do, and you probably aren’t that surprised. I appreciate that.

I think I’ve always had anxiety, but I think it manifests itself most strongly in two ways:

  1. Sweating. I’m not talking a few sweaty, sticky palms once in a while.  I’m talking uncontrollable, outrageously embarrassing sweat. I sweat so profusely it looks like I’m currently showering in my own sweat. (Want proof? Here’s a pic of me sweating on commencement day. Nothing was even going wrong at that moment.) And it’s not limited to commencement. I sweat when driving (even on back roads), going to meetings, going out for lunch for friends, even when trying on clothes! My life is lived like a woman going through menopause- I have to wear clothes that will hide as much sweat as possible, and I carry a towel in my purse to wipe off my face. I have to drive to work in a tank top (and pants, of course) and then finish getting dressed before I get out of the car. It’s not fun living life through one continuous hot flash.
  2. Sleeping (or rather, not sleeping). I toss and turn all night, thinking of everything that could and will go wrong. I often punch Fernando (lovingly) because he’s one of those people that can take a deep breath as soon as they hit the hay and BOOM! One-way ticket to Sleepytown. He has since started letting me fall asleep before he even comes to bed, poor guy. I didn’t sleep more than two hours a night for three weeks when I coordinated commencement for the very first time. I was sick, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

I made the decision a while ago to try taking medication to see if it would help; I would love to live a less sweaty life full of regular sleep cycles and the ability to merge onto the freeway without feeling like this. Friends of mine that also struggle with anxiety have had positively life-altering results when going on medication, so I figured I’d see if it would do the same for me. It didn’t.

  • Medication #1 made me so tired all the time I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work almost every day. My mom witnessed an unfortunate incident in which I attempted to talk to her on the phone while out of it and I slurred as if I had been drinking all day. (I hadn’t.) I switched to a new kind.
  • Medication #2 made me so nauseous that I could only eat saltine crackers for six weeks, leaving some of my coworkers to jokingly ask if I was pregnant. (No.) I switched to a new kind after two months.
  • Medication #3 created similar effects to #1, making it nearly impossible for me to stay awake at work. I lost interest in doing most of my activities and ended up hanging out on the couch mindlessly watching TV and snoozing for hours instead of crafting, reading, exercising and cooking. When I’m too tired to cross-stitch, I know something is off.

A few weeks ago, I was so fed up with living this frustrating life, watching my life pass me by, that I decided to stop taking it. While all three medications solved my sleeping issue, none of them did a thing to curb the nasty sweating; if anything, it worsened. Yesterday I took my last dose- huzzah! I’m bummed that I can’t just magically drive on the freeway, and gutted that I still sweat like there’s no tomorrow. But I’d rather live with those issues than spend my life on the couch watching Netflix for lack of energy to do anything else! (Though Netflix is a wonderful thing.)

I’ve made it a goal to try to get 10,000 steps in every day (thanks to my handy step tracker on my dorky smartwatch), because I know exercise is 1) good for everyone and 2) especially good at reducing anxiety. I’m also (gulp) considering trying yoga, even though I’m pretty terrible at it (how in the world does anyone do downward dog?!?!?!). I’m also trying to cut down on sugar (especially chocolate 🙁 ) and trying to turn off my computer and phone well before I turn in to reduce screen time (I even installed f.lux to mimic outside light and reduce blue light when it’s late).

Does anyone else have any great remedies for anxiety they’d like to share? 

13 thoughts on “On Anxiety.

  1. I am a fellow sweater. Like with sweats – not the wool kind. 🙂 Secret prescription strength deodorant ( can buy over the counter) has helped me not sweat through clothes so badly. It has still happened but a lot less frequently. Running and walking (sometimes for a couple hours) have been my most effective remedies. And therapy when I was at my worst. I have found that exercising myself until I’m so tired I have to sleep is the best way to break insomnia. I have never wanted to medicate because of side effects, but I also don’t have it as bad as some. Hang in there, anxiety girl! You’re not alone.

  2. This is so great, Holly. Not because you have anxiety, but because you’re sharing it with others. I also have anxiety. It doesn’t manifest itself in the ways it does for you, but I do deal with a great deal of anticipatory anxiety prior to “scary” things and cry at the drop of a hat. Like, inside I’m going, “I am not upset. I’m not sad or mad. I don’t feel like crying.” But on the outside, waterworks. My biggest fear? Getting screamed at and being told I’m dumb. Very random as this has never happened in my 29 years on Earth, but the fear is there. My tactics for living a less anxiety-stricken life have evolved as I have, but they include: exercise (in the most fun sense of the word – biking along the beautiful lakes, swimming in the beautiful lakes, running around the beautiful lakes – j/k, running sucks, hiking, rollerskating), creating a schedule that is a balance of predictability (bedtime, cleaning time, fun time), but also allows for spontaneity, therapy, psychiatrist sessions (which have resulted in medication, but obviously that is not for everyone. I’m glad you were able to decide what’s right for YOU), laughter, and just the right amount (i.e. a teensy bit) of doing something that scares me in a safe, comfortable environment. Also, I think one of the things that helped me the most in the long run was telling other people. Now, this doesn’t mean that I have to call my former college professor up each time that I am struggling, but just that people know in the first place takes a bit of a load off. Also, an area I’m trying to grow in is trusting others. Trusting that they trust ME, trusting that they are living life without malicious intent for others, trusting that, at the end of the day, they don’t care about the fact that I was getting choked up on the phone – they’re wondering what’s for dinner. I have a dear friend and mentor who, to me, is the coolest person on the planet. Certainly cooler than I’LL ever be. I looked up to him so much, until he told me one day that he had spent an hour that morning sobbing in the shower. Totally unexpected from someone who appears to have it all together. From that day on, I looked up to him even MORE, because he’s human – complex and wonderful. And he gave me a great piece of advice, even though I hated it at the time, when I was struggling with a bout of anxiety as well. “Don’t hate your anxiety. It sucks, but it makes you who you are. You wouldn’t be the kind, compassionate, sensitive, organized, hard-working, ethical person you are without your anxiety. Use it for good.” Anywho, there’s my novel, but I wanted to reach out not only to offer my support, but also for making me feel less alone in my own times of anxiety. I’ll close with my favorite quote on the matter, from the lovely Tina Fey: “My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.”

    • Molly-Jo, I’m so touched by your comment! I’ve read it about five times already and am a little choked up. Yes, I should have clarified that while medication didn’t work for me, it does wonders for others that I know and love (like you!)! I’m so thankful that you shared a bit about your own journey- it really helps to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this, even if our anxiety manifests in different ways. I’m in love with the quote you shared from your friend- in fact, I may have to put the down on a Post-It and stick it to my bathroom mirror! And of course, Tina Fey always knows the right thing to say. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! xo

      • I’m so glad it was helpful! It was even cathartic for me to put things down into words. I’m happy to hear that you’re finding more and more ways that do (or don’t) work for you to cope with times of anxiety. Whether it be exercise, blogging, Post-It notes (a favorite of mine), or reading words from a friend, they are all such wonderfully positive ways to live life, with anxiety or without. I’m wishing you all of the very best as you continue to take steps to feeling better and better!

  3. Oh anxiety. I’m not sure when it crept into my head, but it was sometime between graduation and my first panic attack at work. My therapist eventually gave a name to one of the most nagging parts of my anxiety — “catastrophizing” – but that was after a couple years after general worry and normal reactions morphed into overwhelming dread that I would lose my job over a simple mistake, that my insurance company would force me out of my house, that my house would cave-in/catch on fire/disappear into a sinkhole, that speaking up in my relationship would lead to an immediate break-up, or that every police officer I saw on the road had my name in a little book to arrest immediately for crimes I didn’t realize I committed. I look back and am amazed that I couldn’t see that those were not typical reactions… and can now see why my officemates/boyfriend/friends could never really support me when I was lost in those thoughts. Its hard to rebuke them when you can’t recognize that they’re distorted in the first place.
    Therapy for the past year and going on meds (both daily and “as needed) have helped a lot, but I think the worst part is just the automatic physical reactions, even when my head feels somewhat clear. Like when I’m driving to work and I can feel my chest tightening and my breathes getting clearer, and I’m thinking to myself, “I literally just have a paperwork day today. No appointments, no phone calls coming in or out…” Ugh.
    I’m glad you’re figuring things out – its hard to figure out the right balance of things (ESPECIALLY MEDS), but sometimes just having those goals and the positive outlook makes all the difference.

    Also, I still have A Fault in our Stars! *oops* *excuse for coffee/grabbin a beer sometime 🙂 *

    • What a great word, “catastrophizing.” It explains so much- I’ve never had a word to describe my deepest, most irrational fears. It sucks that we have to deal with it. (I *totally* also have had the ‘police officer with notebook of uncommitted crimes” anxiety, too!!!!) I’ve considered therapy, but it just hasn’t ever seemed right to me, I think because the idea of having to find someone to meet with causes me even MORE anxiety- I’d have to find someone I can drive to with good parking, what if they don’t understand me, what if I really am crazy, etc… I’m really glad it works for you, though- and medication! All the comments I’m getting here (plus elsewhere) are really giving me good food for thought so I can find my own right balance. 🙂

      Yes! I would love to grab a beer! I can usually get myself to Indeed with minimal sweating 😉 – do you still live around there? 🙂

  4. Holly, I’m sorry you are so tormented by anxiety!!! This came as a complete shock to me, and you are so organized and upbeat at work – never would have thought your thoughts are putting you through the ringer like this. I have no advise, just wanted to sympathize with you, and say, you are wonderful! We love you, Holly!

    • Cheryl, you’re so sweet! Yes, it’s not something I bring up in daily conversation (except the driving part- I’m fully honest to anyone that asks, haha. Freeway driving for this girl?? No way!), but talking about it here has been very freeing. 🙂

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