What Anxiety Feels Like to Me

Anxiety is real – be it mild and transitory or crippling and pervasive. I can no longer count the many sources of anxiety and depression in the world. They will touch everyone.

Nervous animated emoticon

It makes me feel frail. It’s as if my body knows some terrible thing that my mind doesn’t. My heartbeat feels irregular and fragile.  My gut is very tied to my emotions and hurts, cramps, rumbles. I don’t know whether I’m hungry or sick but I’m tempted to eat to fill the gnawing in my stomach. Often eating makes it feel worse. I’m restless and on the lookout for some kind of relief even though I don’t know if it should be physical, mental or spiritual.

It’s not knowing what to do. It’s having too many choices with no idea which is most important, or having only one choice but having to wait to do it. It’s the waiting. How can I make waiting tolerable? Indecision is exhausting. I default to easy, time wasting activity thinking that it will calm me and help me feel more control over life. In reality, I end up feeling powerless.  I accomplish nothing.

I become aware of my aloneness. No one knows I am feeling this way and I would not necessarily feel better telling of it. My situation is singular, and complex. I could not expect another person, with their different, singular and complex circumstances to understand mine. They are all busy.

If only I didn’t have to feel my heart pumping,  physically moving my body with each pulse. It goes on a rampage with a string of fast, strong jerks. I’m a nurse. I know they are PVC’s, but they are nothing new to me. I want to close my eyes and feel sick for a while. Just let me feel sick. And then I realize that the faint nausea is the beginning of an uncontrollable heat that spreads through my body like a hormonal wildfire. That is not new to me either, but I have been unable to learn to like it.  I endure it, thankful that it will pass.

What Helps Me Feel Better – Keeping Perspective

Sometimes I know the source of my anxiety. It’s a task that I just can’t seem to finish. I know I need to see it in a new way. Tackle it from a different direction. Or maybe just stop procrastinating. I pray for the clarity needed to deal with the troublesome matter. I pray for the strength needed to start working. Sometimes I decide to not “own” that task any longer. I decide it’s not worth it.

I often ask for some small reassurance that I am not alone. I review who I am, whose I am and that I do not have to have control over anything to be at peace. I remind myself that my body and mind will work together to care for themselves if I do what I can to not interfere with them. Whatever the root of my anxiety, I consider the “worst case scenario” and whether the outcome will matter in the long run. Often, when I have no choice in outcome, I have a choice in my own response to it. I can think about how to be consistent with my faith and my core principles.

Today I remembered exercise. It’s often the last, hardest thing I want to do, but the memory of feeling better afterwards draws me. When my body is moving, my mind orders itself more efficiently. Having a physical reason for being tired helps me relax. There is not as much pressure to decide what to do next. I’ve changed the mix of hormones and burned off some of the anxious feelings.

I practice gratitude.  I thank God for relative safety, food, shelter, clothing. I thank him for letting me know that this world and everything in it is a temporary environment. Everything changes, sooner or later. My circumstances change. My feelings change. That too is God’s doing, so I thank him for the passage of time.

It helps me understand myself  better to know that God made me able to feel anxiety, and he knew it would be my experience. That’s why he said that there is a way to “cast it” on him. The more I learn about him, the easier that becomes. (I Peter 5:7, the Holy Bible)

 

 

 

 

It Happened So Fast

wp-1475003441376.jpgThoughts at the beginning of what would have been a bike ride…

(Early morning, September 26, 2016)

No! What’s happening?! The pedal is flipping and I’m off balance. I’m going down hard. The handlebar is going right into my neck. Bad place to hit.

It’s over, that was quick. How suddenly things can change. Hurts, hurts.  Is there any way this could be fatal?

Don’t panic, you are still thinking, for the moment… That’s a good sign. Hold still, wait.

That was quite a poke in the neck, really hurts. Hope no major vessels were torn.

My hand on my neck might be stabilizing something, I’d better not move it yet. Wait.

It’s really peaceful and still, just sitting here. Look how nothing else has changed. Sunshine, trees, a butterfly. I’m not losing consciousness, must not be bleeding internally. I am so aware of still being alive and so aware of how quickly I could have been dying. God, thank you and please help me not be injured badly.

(3 minutes)

It must be okay to move. I can’t feel anything changing in my neck. I can feel the abrasion now, stinging. Swallowing hurts a little. I suppose I could worry about my airway, but I don’t feel swelling. Not yet. I’m going to stand up.

I wonder what this looks like, need to go in the house and look. Hmmm… right over the jugular. How did that not tear something? Thank God for skin and a tough body.

I feel funny, rattled, sort of fearful. Is this a fear I should conquer by getting back on the bike right away? I should at least pick it up off the driveway.

The wheel won’t turn and something is bent. (Thank God, I can’t ride it!)

Why did this happen? What will I do differently if there’s a “next time”? There’s no one else at fault, just me. I think I was moving too fast – just didn’t see that the pedal wasn’t flat before putting my foot on it. Need to check everything deliberately.

Is there any way this could mean I’m getting incapable? I’m not used to accidents. Have they been happening more often because of changes in me? I’ll bet that thought will occur to others. I’m going to put it on hold for now.

I should put an ice pack on my neck and forget exercise for today. Going to take it easy, just sayin’…

 

The Value of a Hard Day

Every hard day I go through becomes a part of me.  I think back on the recent hours of physical pain and ask myself what is different about me now?

I am much more aware of my mortality. Reminded of how little control I have over the complexities of this body. How little it takes to bring on a crisis.  I sat and wondered how much pain it takes to make a person pass out, not able to take any more. I thought of others who endure more pain over longer periods of time, in prison perhaps with no care at all to help them. But I thought more about my own pain and what I might possibly do to lessen it, make it go away.  I mean, how could there not be anything?

I made some promises to my body.  I realize pain is a message of sorts that my body gives me to tell me valuable things. I need to listen better. I need to keep times of pain in mind when I choose activities, work, play, eating.  I haven’t been totally negligent all these years but I do wish that the awareness I have now in my 60’s had been with me in my 20’s and 30’s. I could have been listening back then too.

I have reviewed what I know about God’s view of my life and my pain. I know by now that I can’t expect the laws of the universe to be superceded to produce miracles for me. I believe that happens but I don’t understand  why sometimes and not others. I know Jesus’ heart in the matter because he healed everyone who came to him. I think he has that same compassion for me. Sometimes my prayers for relief are answered quickly, other times not so quickly.  When the answer has been “no” I can usually see that there is benefit for me.  I know that my spiritual healing is the most important thing to God and the answer to that has never been “no”.

I have friends.  When they know that I have a need, love is poured out so generously.  I feel God is in that.  It’s part of that body metaphor where other parts feel the pain when one part hurts. I was encouraged and blessed and I’m told lots of good brain chemicals are released in that.  What a wonderful built-in response to love.

I learned that the husband can make really good sandwiches, and he is attentive and caring.  I knew that before but it’s kind of rare that I need this kind of attention so I forget. He gave up most of his day carting me around to medical care and waiting, waiting…. going for my prescriptions, making me comfortable.

I learned once again how wonderful it is when pain stops.  What relief.  What rest.  A new and joyful appreciation of pain free moments is mine.  I’m flooded with gratitude – more good brain chemicals.

One more part of my body taking on a troublesome behavior could cause a bit of dread, fear, uncertainty.  But today I was reminded in Proverbs 1:33 that listening to the Lord’s wisdom promises me that I will live in safety, be at ease and not have to dread disaster.  Disaster might come, but I don’t have to dread it.  My days are numbered by the Lord, not by circumstances of accident or disease. And thinking back, I wasn’t afraid.  But gosh, the pain was awful.

And so it becomes part of my past and part of me. I’ve seen pain make some people more beautiful.  Isn’t that kind of an exciting concept – that you can do something with pain and use it?  That I might become more beautiful, even stronger, in character is growth. I love that kind of growth!

I don’t wish hard days on anyone but I’m just sayin’, if you have one, it can be valuable.

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