There was a time not so many years ago when I would write for the joy of writing. I would write stories and poems. I wrote term papers and articles. I enjoyed writing. I enjoyed sharing my writing. One day it came back to me through the grapevine that someone felt that my writing was “passive aggressive.” They felt that it was directed at I them. Maybe it was. I can’t tell you what was in my head at the time.
Writing was an outlet for my feelings. Feelings are not always right or wrong. Brooke Castillo (check out her podcast) says that the thoughts that we have about a circumstance cause our feelings. If that is correct, then we can change our feelings by changing our thoughts. That’s a lot harder than it sounds.
I get anxiety. I won’t say that I suffer from it (although I sometimes do), but the fact is that I experience anxiety is truth. I am feeling anxiety right now. I am anxious that this blog post isn’t eloquent or polished. I get anxious that people will think there’s something inferior about me because I admit that I have anxiety.
Anxiety has a physical quality. My tummy feels a little funny and it feels like someone is squeezing my voice box. Sometimes it feels like my heart is beating in my throat. Sometimes anxiety has an identifiable source. Other times, it’s just there.
My anxiety has a host of symptoms that accompany it. Sometimes I worry. I play a scenario out in my head and invent a dozen potential outcomes – some of them catastrophic. It’s rather like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Sometimes there aren’t conscious thoughts – just a feeling of impending doom.
I used to love to add to this blog. I allowed anxiety to take it away from me. I worried about what other people might think of me as a person or as a professional. I stopped writing.
Like other things in life, anxiety ebbs and flows. When anxiety reaches its high tide mark, I stop creating. It takes too much energy. There is nothing left for music or writing. I can get through the things that I have to do, but there isn’t energy left to create.
When my anxiety is high, I hope for an invitation to spend time with someone then make myself sick being anxious about it. If I can push through the anxiety, I nearly always have a great time. It’s getting there that is the problem.
I know some remarkable people who have anxiety. Over time, we learn ways of coping with it, or even harnessing it. I’m no expert on treating anxiety- or even coping with anxiety, but I have survived anxiety for at least 35 years, which qualifies me to say it can be done.
I’m constantly seeking and evaluating new approaches to dealing with anxiety. Some work better than others. My anxiety toolbox includes exercise, meditation and essential oils. Sometimes it has included medication and therapy.
May is mental health awareness month. Perhaps this post would have been more appropriate last month, but the truth is that admitting you have anxiety causes…(you guessed it…) more anxiety!
My hope is that there is someone out there who reads this who will say, “I am not alone.” I’m putting this blog out in the world unedited, flaws and all, to prove to myself that it’s okay to do C+ work once in a while. If you think this is for you, it probably is. Tell me what you think. We can talk about it. It would make me anxious…but I think I’d like it.