Sorry for not including the Marketing for Romance Writers prompt here this week, but I had something I considered to be an important topic for me to get out. I suffer from anxiety, which most of you may know from my posts. Often times it really takes a toll on my life, from social gatherings to PTSD to generalized anxiety. It comes in so many forms and can creep up on me unbeknownst. On the occasions that is the case, often times it can be a slow build, and since I’ve lived with it my entire adult life I often don’t notice it happening.
I don’t count the PTSD version in the slow build because I often know those triggers, but still, struggle to control it. Part of me believes, though, given what I have PTSD over may not have grown so severe if there wasn’t already anxiety issues there prior.
Social anxiety often comes with some self-consciousness along with it. Again, I know the triggers for it. While most of the time they cannot be avoided entirely, I can push through the sensations. On my bad episodes, the hubby man has learned when he can help to push me past them or when we need to take a step back and let me recover. He’s been instrumental in helping me live my life with anxiety.
Now we get to generalized anxiety. It has all the normal triggers, such as stress. This is the one I hardly notice hit until it is pretty bad. I’ve always been a self-conscious person, which fed into me being shy. Add in anxiety and everything is so much worse. I’m self-conscious to the point that it interrupts my life, then self-doubt joins in. These are never in the normal amounts. The ones a person will handle from time to time in their lives. No, these come in heaping waves that literally cripple me. They affect every part of my life, from my writing to even my family life.
It can bring me to a grinding halt in my writing or I’ll start so many projects and never finish them because of self-doubt and self-consciousness never quiet in my head. It is an endless loop of negativity that cycles through and triggers that inner critic to go with it. When it accomplishes stopping the writing it moves onto the next. My family life. I’m a hermit for the most part. Even sometimes the act of going out to spend time with family can be wildly overwhelming – from time to time. When my anxiety is to the point of suffocating me, I don’t leave my house without a good push from the hubby man (duck pond walk).
I become afraid to leave my house. There are people out there. What if one stops to say something cruel? I will dwell on that for years to come. Like someone trying to spray my dog with water because he was near his yard, not in it.
After that, I start to make plans around my anxiety. I’ve wanted to walk up and go work at the library for weeks now, or pack up and go work at Barnes and Noble. I don’t go and I don’t say anything to anyone else. If I go, what could go wrong at home? Will people be mad at me? If we go to Barnes and Noble and I work, the hubby man has to drive (I don’t drive. It’s stupid), he doesn’t read and it’ll leave him sitting there bored. So I don’t say anything.
These things are consistent and while not necessarily damning in their own right, my brain can’t work around them and they pile up. It isn’t one thing or another, but usually a multitude. It generally starts with my brain thinking up old things that have upset me or that I feel guilty about. If I change my thought pattern it’ll stop the instant panic, but it still builds in the background. The next round always attacks my writing. Shortly after, my daily life. Usually, these two occur so close together you could probably consider them the same step, in actuality. After that, the PTSD kicks in. It doesn’t need the actual event or even anything close to it to trigger, why would it when my brain can conjure it all for my reliving pleasure? (Ugh) Last but not least, my sleep takes the largest hit. It becomes interrupted. I wake up just as exhausted as when I went to bed or I manage a few hours of energized life before I’m tired beyond belief. Often times in the stages between awake and asleep I notice I stretch so many times it causes real issues, I’ve thrown out my back doing it. Or I keep crunching up in a ball, tightening my core muscles over and over to the point that it actually makes me sick to my stomach from the release of chemicals in my body.
By this point, I’m barely sleeping and when I am it is restless. During this, I’m often times pushed out of my bed by animals or awoken by my cat almost nightly. I get ornery and frustrated for the animal for not letting me sleep. This is the final stage of it. Both of my animals are mine at night. My cat sleeps on my side so either his tail or his paw can touch my cheek. My dog sleeps against my side or curled behind my legs, sometimes even with his head on my legs.
This is pertinent in the fact that as my anxiety worsens, they try to get closer to me to bring me comfort, which I tell my dog is him blobbing and pushing me out of the bed. My cat pokes at my face and walking up and down my body kneading, so much kneading. Until it wakes me up and I quit stretching or curling up. Either way, by this point I’m grumpily climbing out of the bed.
It takes me figuring out what is going on before I can truly appreciate what they were doing, which was taking care of me. They were trying to bring me comfort or wake me from the anxiety-riddled sleep. I’ll admit that often takes a day or two of them doing this nightly before I realize it is time to work on relaxation techniques again, listen to my music, and take my medication.
Now that I’m able to see the pattern from the back half of it, I can work hard to get these things back under control and relax a lot more. The more I work with my own anxiety, I hope to catch it from the beginning. At least, most of the time.
It feels great to at least know what is causing such things to happen so I can deal with it properly, instead of just soothing each thing on its own. Given all of that, it’s time to get to work.
Remember to L.O.L. (Live it, Own it, Love it) or it is’t worth doing.