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.

anxiety from shalavee-staging-1.local

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 Shalavee.com

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.

If you have any thoughts, please drop a word below in the comments. Or

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  1. I had a friend recently tell me about her descent into horrific sleepless anxiety most nights. The specifics were disconcerting to me; someone who knows and relates to feeling anxious but unfamiliar with that sort of intensity. I’m the type of ‘anxious’ girl who sometomes thinks – ‘Can’t I just try a Xanax, because right now life really sucks.’ But then mostly the ‘thing’ passes and I forget about my anxiety until another time and place. But being on one end of the spectrum makes me feel protective of those who can’t just wait it out. And I often wonder if dealt a bad deck of shitty cards, whether anxiety could take me down.

    Thanks (as always) for your candor and endearing transparency, Shalagh. Hugs.

    1. Heather,
      Very thoughtful. Anxiety can become a pit you keep falling into. Mental pathways get worn into your brain. Yes, I feel for everyone who’s there or who has loved ones who suffer. Because you can’t really help other than to listen. You are sweet and thanks so much for being here.

  2. Another fairly common subject I share—my own anxiety, one time not being able to sit in a crowded movie theater, and now symptoms of God-knows-what. Not just nerves, Gastritis, you say. Not good.

    There is little reason to go there—overwhelming yourself, in thought—if you have a loving family that can take after you, care for you if anything goes wrong.

    Relax, sleep, compose oneself… sometimes easier said than done. You can still try to let off steam in exercise, beat the snot out of a punching bag to feel more in control…

    1. And take advantage of the Welbutrin. Or the Paxil. Prozac. Or whatever else they’re offering. While I was taking Chantix to quit the smoking that I also used to quell my anxiety, I realized there was temporary medical relief. And being able to enjoy your life is what it’s meant to be about. I work hard but I definitely have wobbly weeks. And I don’t necessarily give it over to my family. I think I need more friends to lean on. Thanks Adam, as always.

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