Quite honestly, there was never a time when I wasn’t anxious. I have always been anxious. The baby was three weeks old and boy was I anxious. I’ve always felt anxious and therefore I was. Got it honestly from my family.

I was so used to being this way that, in college, my growing stomach pains were just something I tried to ignore. Until one day I was told I had gastritis and soon to have an ulcer. I tried to mend my anxious ways. The pain would come and go but it wasn’t really until a year ago that I actually got rid of them without the aid of medication. Which, by the way, I’d have had no problem taking. I believe in better living through over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

I still have phantom anxiety pains. Moments where I recognize that in the past I would have worried about this or that, but the worry is just not there anymore. Like a missing limb, the anxiety no longer exists but I still remember its use. This week I had an overall sense of disease however. And I wouldn’t call it anxiety but I certainly wouldn’t have said no to some Wellbutrin just to tweak my brain a little until I got over myself. I am moving through the spell thanks to hard work, meditation, list therapy, and prioritizing my doing.

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My theory has always been that the majority of the US population suffers from anxiety problems and symptoms. And that it is so accepted as a human behavior that we call that normal. And then I took a look at the statistics and verified my hunch. From the Anxiety Disorders association of America, statistics on anxiety:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population.
    Women are twice as likely to be affected as men

I can say that lessening the worry about things I can’t control has definitely changed the quality of my life. I am also deeply respectful of the reasons people have earned their worried ways. We are never told it’s OK to be not OK 100% of the time. Somehow America’s promotion of the Perfecty Perfect Easy Existence has us constantly falling below our lives’ high expectations. Go figure. Imaginary Joneses to keep up with are everywhere. And really nowhere.

from anxious on

The change in my life is due to increasing my self-esteem and self-efficacy. To realize I’m always capable and I have my back.  I’ve built on this concept in layers and waves. And when I take a look back to my old journals and see what I wrote, I really know how far I’ve come. And knowing that you can change your outlook if you work and learn and listen and read and write makes me feel better everyday. Anxiety should be revered and held to the light. Because it isn’t a nice way to exist. You need help to even help yourself out of that hole. And there’s plenty of help out there for the person who asks. The asking is better than the suffering.

My Name (and Password) Amnesia Phobia

I noticed myself feeling anxious when recalling someone’s name recently. And I became slightly flustered. Yet, on another occasion, I realized I actually knew the name of the person I worried I’d forgotten. As my friends will attest to, I have a pretty sharp memory. Where I may have temporary memory loss of your name I will, however, remember what you told me ten years ago about your Great Aunt Bebe. I will remember that you had pretty bad BO last time I saw you or that you were a bad tipper. I’ll certainly remember if I liked you. So what the  heck?

What is this phobia I have about getting the name right?  I suspect there’s a correlation between this and my nauseating fear of remembering passwords. Every time I go to type a password in, I am certain it will be wrong. And Mission Impossible style, it will self destruct in five seconds? My anticipation of  getting flustered before I try naming you and correctly pass-wording makes me anxious  and throws me off. It’s the old self-fulfilling prophecy, again.

I suspect the commonality of these two fears tie is a need for perfection. Perfect people don’t mess up. So recently, I tried to keep calm and say the person’s name out loud and often. I risked being wrong and ended up making points.  From now on, I will  give myself permission to ask you your name if I can’t remember it and I’ll loudly chalk my forgetfulness up to hormonal levels which I suspect sabotage me regularly. Happened to me when I was pregnant so why not cyclically too?

Sometimes just calling myself into awareness about a fear or anxiety can set it righter. And that auto remember thing on my computer for saving passwords has been a godsend. Too bad I can’t press my nose and remember your name.

In the grander scheme of things,  names and passwords are just flim flam. We often focus on the small stuff while the larger stuff escapes us. I do not doubt however, the devil or  deliverance, may be in the details. Do your best, let go of the rest.

Willful Willingness

As I have intimated, things are feeling a lot different for me than they used to. Where I was once fueled by my general anxiety about my life, the world, or that look you just gave me, now I’m not so much.

Recent events have really shown the vast difference between the then and now versions of me. There’s the general travel anxiety which wasn’t there on my recent trip to Philly. And the lack of upset I felt at my first submission rejection for my third. I couldn’t tell you I felt anything but an “uh-huh, yup, of course”.

My two other examples of not spazzing out have to do with car incidents. The first included Johnny Law. And the second, today, introduced me to Mr. Roy, his dog Gizmo, and his nice tow truck.

At my house, I don’t do cars. I thought that was an understood when I got married to this husband.  Although I might clean a car, registrations or gas mileage or tire rotations just ain’t my thing. A month ago, I forgot to put my cruise control on as I headed to the soccer game and got nabbed doing 64 in a 50. My mother and my son were both in the car. And I was as cool as a cucumber.

He gives me a ticket but not for the speeding. He said my stickers on my license were wrong. After a bit of research, I figured out I’d been the one to put the doggone stickers on and why wouldn’t you put the 12 over the 11. What do you mean there’s colored ones and black and white ones? What was I doing putting the stickers on anyway? Still, I didn’t cry or shake in front of the nice officer. That was huge.

The second incident was today when I went to turn the key in the ignition of the truck and nothing happened. Husband even told me he’d experienced a moment of this the night before. Best news was the insurance sponsored roadside assistance had been auto deducted. Yeah! So me and my groceries only had to wait 20 minutes before tow truck Roy showed up. He handed my grocery bags down to me at my house on his way to the dealership.

It was the starter that went up. And the timing belt needs replacing while they’re in there. But since I’m planning a return trip to Philly after Easter, it is better it happened now.

Long and not so long ago, I would wince at every perceivable possible glitch in my life. Christmas tree shopping was notoriously the most stressful event of the year, especially, and maybe only, with the ex. Now it’s all easier.

Because of my willingness to have it be less stressful, I take care of phone calls and chores and whatever else pops up more quickly than ever before. Springtime rolls out in front of me and I am here to see it. I’ve probably only got another short 40 years to go in life. I intend to get the most out of life’s perks while I avoid paying the price for the perpetual fear of unknown everything. It’s about time.