I was talking with a girlfriend yesterday who also suffers from generalized anxiety. People who don’t have it just don’t understand how awful it is. No matter how much I try to ‘let go’, ‘cheer up’, ‘count my blessings’ or ‘turn it over’, my body and my mind latches onto an issue or a concern or a fear with a vice grip that cannot easily be released. What I know about the study of the disorder is that it’s not really what’s going on outside of me that’s causing it, it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes an intense physical and emotional reaction to any kind of stress … even normal daily stress. It’s more complicated than it appears to people who don’t suffer with it.
The truth is that anxiety is really painful, and what’s even more painful is the illusion that I’m doing something wrong, and I SHOULD be able to get over it. The truth is that sometimes I can move through it with some talk or support or ‘right-thinking’. But, as often as not, it grabs ahold of me, and nothing I do can make it better. I just have to ride it out. The last week or so, I’ve had insomnia. It’s usually caused by ramped-up anxiety, but then the insomnia makes it worse because my brain chemicals get all out of whack from the lack of sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that takes some pretty regular intervention to break. It won’t be over in a day. It might be over in a week. It may also last 6 months. I never know. And the longer I’m in a state of hyped-up anxiety, the more prone I am to the crash – depression. It’s why I try to do things to keep me on an even keel and keep my brain chemicals balanced on a regular basis. It’s easier to stay out of it than to get rid of it once it’s here. I hate anxiety.
So, I’ve been working with my thougt patterns around some things, and one of the things I’ve been thinking about is what I want to do … be … experience next. In order for me to be happy, I need to have change and variety. The problem is my anxiety doesn’t see change in the same way that my heart does. My anxiety wants to talk about what could go wrong. What if this happens? What if it doesn’t work out? What if it’s the wrong decision? What if you die in your house all alone and get eaten by your cats? A friend of mine who is an ENFP and doesn’t struggle with adventure told me that I had to reframe it and think of life as a grand adventure and how exciting it will all be. I can reframe it every now and again, but my anxiety is relentless. So, I’ve been saying affirmations and trying to shift my thinking in order to step into the power of being who I am and setting out on an adventure without analyzing it to death. Thus, the insomnia ….
I signed up for this daily email called ‘Notes from the Universe’. It’s interesting because you write down what you want more of in your life when you sign up, and I think the ‘messages’ are tailored somewhat for you. So, this morning I got this:Tell me, when you think of taking consistent action in the general direction of your dreams, Sharon, do you imagine discipline, stamina, work, sacrifice, monotony, courage, and strategies, or are you thinking adventure, discovery, new friends, excitement at the crack of dawn, magic, surprises, fun, laughter, and, on occasion, the Macarena?
Hmmm … I guess there’s a part of me that believes that I don’t deserve my dreams. There’s something inside me that believes that life should be about work and suffering and practicality and doing the right thing. There’s also a part of me that WANTS to believe that I am worthy of having my dreams, that God created me for a purpose that is much bigger than myself, and that my dreams are the spark that lights the path in that direction. I’m caught in this bloody dance of trying to keep bad things from happening and wanting so much more than that. It just seems like my anxiety keeps me in a place of mitigating damage instead of opening my heart to the possibilities of this beautiful life. I want to feel the explosion of positive energy that propels me into my place of power where I can write and teach and dream and love more than I ever dreamed possible. I pray that this noose of anxiety lets go before I leave this planet so I can take my proper place among the stars. I know God doesn’t want any of us to live small, meaningless, mundane lives. Today I’m going to think of “adventure, discovery, new friends, excitement at the crack of dawn, magic, surprises, fun , laughter” and maybe even do the Macarena. Anybody game?