Finding My Calm

It sometimes reminds me of a spring or summer storm. There is always a gray darkness to it, sometimes almost black or sometimes a scary tornado-is-coming yellow. Some days it is steady and dull and constant; others it comes in fast and furious with beating heart and cold hands. It can be expected, like an accurate forecast; or it can spring up out of nowhere, like a cloud burst in a sky that was blue only moments ago. 

photo credit: __MaRiNa__ via photopin cc

photo credit: __MaRiNa__ via photopin cc

Regardless of the form it happens to take, I recognize anxiety when it appears. I’ve spent more years of my life fighting it, managing it, learning to live with it, and struggling to accept it, than I have spent years without it. It took time and maturity and counseling and life to teach me what this thing inside me was. I’ve called it a weakness, a monster, a strength; but really it is all of those things, and it is mostly just me. These days, I feel like I have come to an agreement and a way of life with it. I have stretches of time where it is quiet, and I have times where it is wild and overpowering. But I no longer lose the other parts of myself in it. 

There are aspects of my anxiety that have been there for as long as I can remember. Parties and crowds have always made me nervous, often in a way I couldn’t figure out. And because I couldn’t understand it, I simply ended up being disappointed in event after event, wondering why it didn’t seem as fun as I had thought it would be. I have always worried about a million things, big and small. The worst case scenario for every situation has always been calculated in my head. I have always felt things so deeply I sometimes feel like I am drowning in my own emotion. 

While some triggers have been with me my whole life, some have developed only recently. My discomfort with small talk gets worse as I age. The last few years I have developed a panic when faced with talking on the phone. Some have just intensified as the years pass. The anxiety caused by crowds and people being in my space has increased since having kids. My need for quiet and solitude has grown. 

photo credit: c@rljones via photopin cc

photo credit: c@rljones via photopin cc

While the list of what causes my anxiety seems to grow, at least my list of strategies to deal with it seems to become fine tuned. I have learned to abandon the strategies that no longer work. I have discovered how to search for ones that do. I have learned when to try what. 

I sometimes use meds, and I’ve learned to be ok with that. I prefer something I can take “as needed,” as opposed to a daily dose. At times I have had to concede on that, since anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. While I have often gone years without having the anxiety and depression team up together, the times when they do I sometimes need some help to quiet them. 

I have learned to remind myself the anxiety is not real. Just like Tris, from Divergent, who was aware it was only a simulation, and not real. I have learned to tell myself the panic is not real when I am in the middle of it. I have learned to force myself to breathe deep and slow, even though my brain is telling me I can’t. In this realization, I find power. Knowing I am taking responsibility for creating my own calm, gives me the strength I need to see the changes I have to make, or the heart to step back from some relationships, or the courage to simply ride out the storm.

photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc

photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc

I am learning how to find my calm. How to quiet the storm. I snuggle my kids, and  my cats, and my dog. I close my eyes, and I breathe deeply. I write, sometimes what I’m feeling, and other times something completely unrelated to get my focus away from the anxiety. Sometimes just finding words is enough to push it back. And I continue to search, and discover, and learn how to exist with this storm. 

Reading my friend Tamara’s thoughts about and experiences with anxiety, inspired me and gave me the courage to write about it myself. Please take a moment to click over to her site, and read her beautiful words about this struggle.

Comments

  1. I stumbled upon this accidentally tonight, because I’m supposed to be working! Happy I did. I didn’t even know there were meds you could take as needed, but I am intrigued. Sometimes it gets hard to fight. My periods of calm are much longer than my periods of anxiety but they are just like that – a storm. A darkness. Clouds. I have no depression to speak of, but my anxiety is strange. I don’t even really know how to write about it – I’m just learning how. It can be debilitating but also quiet. And I do have some strategies that work nearly all of the time and that does give me power.

    • I find my periods without major anxiety issues are getting longer, and I think that is in part due to finding those strategies that work for me. And also starting to realize when some work and when others work better. I think what really helped me to manage it, was to stop fighting it, and instead realize that I needed to learn how to live with it.

  2. I had major anxiety when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. We were having an ours baby and the family seemed to be in turmoil. I am convicted that I took it too far with the help of the hormones. It was more than I could handle. Thankfully, after the baby was born, the hormone induce anxiety disappeared. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. So glad that you’ve developed ways to cope with your anxiety. Sending you some peace~

    • Those hormones can be crazy!! When I was pregnant with my second, I got this crazy germ phobia. Unfortunately, it was the same time there was the huge N1H1 flu breakout. I was a nervous wreck!! And I made my hubby pull all the carpet out of our upstairs and put in wood flooring because I was convinced the carpet was full of germs! Pregnancy hormones definitely made my anxiety worse! Glad yours went away after your kiddo arrived! Thanks for the peace… :)

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