Free Floating Anxiety
Those of you that have been following me for awhile know that I occasionally suffer from bouts of insomnia and/or anxiety. Sometimes it is easily identifiable as subdrop, and occasionally it is justifiable work stress, or even more occasionally, life stress brought on by family issues, but other times it’s just there. Sitting on my shoulders like wet, heavy sand, immoveable, bowing me under its weight. It taints everything, and colors my world in ugly ways, either the grey of depression or the jagged red of free-floating anxiety, unnameable and unresolvable, because nothing is actually causing it.
I’m in the midst of just an episode right now, and it feels…well, like ass.
These are symptoms/manifestations of it:
- Food tastes off and isn’t appealing, while at the same time I feel bloated and out of control in my eating habits. And yet…
- I eat bad shit. Or nothing at all.
- My sleeping pattern is completely fucked up. I’m exhausted all day, can barely get up in the AM, yet can’t get to sleep at night and when I finally do, it is fitful sleep punctuated by disturbing dreams.
- Work feels…gah…insurmountable. I feel inadequate to my job and am also filled with anxiety that I am not doing good enough in my job and/or that I am going to be fired.
- Nothing I write feels authentic, and I certainly don’t want to write about sex.
- In fact I don’t want to have sex, and when I do I feel guilty and disgusted with myself for the things we do.
- I hate my body.
- I hate my life.
- I think about quitting my job, quitting my relationships, running away.
- I can’t focus for long on anything, and pretty much hate everything I read, see or hear.
- I am constantly on the verge of tears. One kind word and I am bawling.
- My filter is away out of whack. I hear things and interpret them way off of how they are meant.
- And as an adjunct to that I have a propensity to write emails and react to those things, in decidedly unhealthy ways.
Yeah, it’s that sucky.
Thankfully it doesn’t last long, and the Guys are pretty good at identifying it and helping me deal with it in as non-destructive a way as possible, though they are sometimes the innocent victims of anxiety-shrapnel, when I can’t keep my mouth shut or stop the ugliness from spewing out of me.
I do have some methods of combating it tho (besides curling up in a ball in bed and hiding from the world, or getting in my car and driving until I run into the ocean.)
- Walking – taking a walk helps clear my mind, and alleviates the “bloated” feeling
- Weeding the garden – I don’t know what it is about pulling weeds, but it calms & soothes me (a metaphor for weeding my brain of the diseased thoughts?)
- Cooking something healthy with Adam – preparing good food, that nourishes and tastes good seems to help
- Cleaning & organizing a closet, cupboard, bookshelf (see “weeding garden” above)
- Yoga – an obvious activity, tho sometimes yoga makes me cry when I’m in this space, and that’s embarrassing in a class
- Work – If I can immerse myself deeply enough that I am in auto-mode, working solidly for 4 or 5 hours helps
- SOMETIMES getting a good beating helps, but it can also make it worse when I come out, and sometimes the anxiousness is such that even my skin feels sensitive, so a whipping never gets me out of my head.
- Hiking – if I can hike somewhere beautiful, sometimes that pops me out of it. Kind of like kick-starting my heart to recognize the beauty of the world around me and my life
- Organizing and paying bills – again see “weeding the garden” above
“Be kind to myself” is also something I try to do, but it’s hard not to berate myself when I’m like this. Not only for all of the false criticisms (I’m old, I’m fat, I’m unloveable!”) that the mood generates, but because I feel this way at all, when I know damn well how blessed I am in my life. So it’s hard hard hard to be kind to myself when I know that I am being ungrateful and ugly.
Sometimes just giving myself permission to not do anything helps. To have a warm bath and a night on the couch, staring at the television, or to curl up with a book (though books can be problematic because as I mentioned, I find it hard to focus.) Sometimes spending the night in bed, with my comforter, even having dinner in bed. Those options always worry me though, because when I had “The Depression” eight or nine years ago, I let myself go to bed and basically didn’t get out again for 6 months. Don’t wanna go there again!
I also make some rules about things when I am like this:
- No big decisions about job, living arrangements or relationships
- No running away
- No cutting my hair
- Minimal social media
Right now, though? I want to pack my car, get a hair cut, wave goodbye to everyone I know and head out toward the ocean.
I’m clamping down hard on that desire.
How do you combat those anxiety moments? Or do you even have them?