I'm going to tell you something I've never really discussed before. I have anxiety disorder.
When I was young, I was described as shy or standoffish. But anxiety is not shyness or insecurity. It is not just being stressed out or being a neat freak. It is not a choice, a weakness, or a flaw.
Being so uncomfortable you feel like crawling out of your own skin
Constant worry and fear of EVERYTHING.
Feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, and exhausted.
Staying on high alert at all times and never being able to relax.
Feeling claustrophobic even in an open space.
Not being able to sleep because your mind is always racing.
Being constantly aware of every single sound, sight, smell, taste, and texture.
Avoidance of people, places, and things. Even people you care about.
Developing a ritual that you don't realize or can't control.
Always anticipating the worst outcome.
Feeling chest pain, nausea, dizziness, tension, and fatigue.
Some days can be productive while others are debilitating. This week I broke down and sobbed on two separate occasions. I usually don't allow myself to be pushed to tears. I certainly don't allow other people to see me cry. But my husband saw it both times. The first time was on Sunday. We have moved into an apartment complex because my husband will be traveling so much for work. The upstairs neighbors are continually loud and disruptive. It has kept us from being able to enjoy meals, watch a movie, or even sit here and relax together. The noise is constant. Despite having taken the issue to the management multiple times, nothing has been resolved. Last Sunday was my husbands only day off and we couldn't even rest and relax in our own home because of the screaming, jumping around, and loud bangs coming from over our heads.
This may sound like an issue that one might get mad or upset over. When you have anxiety, it is much more than that. It drives you inward and closes you off. You feel like there is nothing you can do and you will just have to live in the misery. It finally caught up to me and the tears flowed. My husband tried to comfort me but I had to get away. I went for a walk and that helped me pull myself back together.
The other incident was on Wednesday night when I was discouraged about my business. When you pour your heart and soul into something and you don't feel you are supported by your friends or family it gets really tough. When you have anxiety, these feelings snowball into feelings of inadequacy across all aspects of your life. I cried to my husband for over two hours about my business, my friends, my family, the fact that we never had children. All of the things I was suppressing while putting on my "strong face". They all caught up with me this week and it came pouring out whether I wanted it to or not.
I am blessed with a fantastic husband who does his absolute best to support me in every way. So why do I still seek validation from my friends and family? I wish I knew.
Even as I write these words, I am doubting myself. No one wants to hear this. It just sounds like you're whining. Who cares?
Despite these feelings, I want to try to bring some of these issues out of the shadows. Sometimes the people around you are suffering and you may have no idea. Be kind. If we could all treat others the way we would want to be treated, it would make such a big difference. Small acts of kindness can go a long, long way.
The way that I deal with my anxiety is through art. Being creative allows me to put all that pent-up energy into something I enjoy. My creativity has many different forms. I enjoy interior design, writing, drawing, singing, and cooking. These are all different art forms but they all bring me some form of joy. I may not be the best at these art forms but they do make me happy.
When I share my art, I'm sharing a part of myself. Whether I have lovingly put together a design, written an article, or sang a song I am sharing a piece of myself with you. To me, sharing something you create yourself is very personal. That is how I channel my anxiety. I am so thankful to have whatever small amount of talent I have. I am thankful for my little group of supporters - especially my husband. Every day I'm going to keep moving forward. Thank you all for listening to me ramble.
Go do something kind for someone today!