Anxiety is having your shoulders try to hug your ears and having your body recoil at even the thought of a hug. All of you feels twisted and jumbled. Your heart is racing as if a posse of possessed clowns are chasing you! You aren’t quite sure if you would rather the clowns catch you and knock you out or if you actually need to run and are thankful for the motivation. Forget it. I’m not sure I can even talk about it or I might vomit. No, wait. I’m tackling this head on, and have a NEW PROJECT to tell you about at the end of this article.
Anxiety, you are a cruel beast. You make me feel everything all at once.
There is absolutely nothing happening in that very moment to trigger this anxiety. “It’s official,” I think as I plop down on our couch, “I’m losing my ever-loving mind.”
I take a deep breathe in through my mouth and count…1…2…3…4
Exhale through the mouth 5…6…7…8…9…10.
Repeat five times.
I consciously pull my shoulders down and close my eyes and try to be mindful. It’s not working. My anxiety begins to feel like electrical currents spider webbing throughout my chest. Shifting left and right and tensing and releasing my muscles becomes a noticeable sign to the world that something isn’t right. It also makes me aware that this is no longer run of the mill just plain ‘ol stress. A pounding headache encroaches and increasing emotions start twisting like a tornado. If I don’t find a way to stop this freight train from barreling down the tracks, I fear that I will derail completely. God help me, because I’m not entirely even sure what that would even look like.
Anxiety, you are confusing.
No one person experiences anxiety alike. I might want to find a physical release while you may need an emotional one. Honestly, the main goal is for the both of us is for it to GO AWAY. In my case, I fake it until I make it. You would have to be an expert on “me” to know I was anything but ok. My mask is firmly in place to protect me from the even more intense anxiety of being exposed. In fact, this post makes me anxious to write and share. Yet, that’s the very reason I think it needs to be written. There is too much social stigma with mental health in our country.
ANXIETY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LOGICAL OR MAKE ANY SENSE
Of course it has to make sense, right? Um, no. No it does not. It also doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Irrational fears aren’t something I struggle with, but it is common for those with this medical condition. I have obvious stress reactions when events happen that would make anyone stressed, ex. my daughter has a muscle spasm so bad that she stops breathing. My anxiety often doesn’t have an obvious trigger and I’m not worried about anything in that moment. Not everyone who has anxiety is a worrier. There is more than one type of it.
Yes, I do have a good therapist.
Here are 5 reasons we should be talking about Anxiety according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
- Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(7), July 1999).
- More than $22.84 billion of those costs are associated with the repeated use of health care services; people with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.
- People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
I am not ashamed of my anxiety. There is no reason for me to feel embarrassed. This is my first step in owning it. This is me. I’m good with me.
So, what’s this project you are talking about?
I’m going to take my oldest daughter and get outside. I like being outside with a purpose, but just to be there…not so much. We are going to make a point to get thirty minutes of some extra sunlight each day for two weeks.
We will make an effort for at least twenty of those minutes three times a week to be physical in nature.
I will record my anxiety levels and see if this theory has any effect on my daughter and me.
There is no more beautiful place to start this project than in the mountains of Gatlinburg, TN! So, here we come!
Follow our experiment on our YouTube channel.
Who is in on this challenge?