My Best Frenemy, Anxiety

First, let’s start with an aside: I can’t believe I just used the word “frenemy.” I actually had to google the spelling. I’m a little ashamed. Come on, Stephanie; I thought you were better than that!

I’ve mentioned my anxiety before in relation to other aspects of my life – see “An Unashamed Therapy Dropout” for some background – but I never really spent any time just talking about the anxiety, the day-to-day kind of stuff. Now, I’m not going to do a post about “a day in the life of a thirty-something dealing with moderate to severe anxiety somewhat regulated by medicine and deep-breathing.” [Actually, I’m 29 for a couple of months still. Thirty-something just sounded better.] First of all, that is a really awful title and second, I’m not that comfortable letting you all into my head – need to keep some of the crazy on the down low. Also, down low. Really? Who am I turning into?

Here is the big problem with anxiety (it is similar to my problem with food) – you need it. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human response to stress. Unfortunately, when it gets out of hand anxiety is also a cold, heartless bitch that eats your last oreo without asking. If anxiety liked cookies, I mean. Let me give an example: On a good day, my anxiety causes me to concentrate on preparing for a lecture so I’m more comfortable speaking in public. On a bad day, my anxiety causes me to drive around a location a few times to work up the nerve to park and go inside. I’m not really sure what I am worried will happen when I go inside; I’m not always privy to that information and just have to trust the anxiety is rationally motivated [spoiler alert: it isn’t].

Phone calls. Oh man! Phone calls can be a killer. With the exception of my parents and my husband, I am always anxious when I have to call someone. It doesn’t matter if I know you, love you, have talked to you several times before, spoke with you an hour ago, etc. I realize that talking on the phone is something that a lot of my generation avoids. . but I can take the avoidance to a whole new level. My husband makes most of the phone calls to keep our household going – he makes the kids doctor’s appointments, talks to the little man’s therapists, schedules maintenance, etc. He can be off the phone before I can even think about working up the nerve to dial. So it works out. Recently, I had a list of approximately twenty people to call for a Junior League project. Talk about my worst nightmare – never hand a girl with phone anxiety a list of strangers to cold call. Yikes! I did it though. It took me days and I didn’t finish until the very last second of the deadline, but I did it. Thanks medication, I appreciate you!

Talking with my husband lately, I’ve been referring to “the problem with my brain” or “my brain is doing that thing again.” I don’t want to be anxious. I want things to be simple. I don’t want to have to close my eyes in bed at night and sing Christmas carols in my head to stop from dwelling on something. Yeah. . I really do that. It helps. Silent Night is usually my go-to.

I get anxious just about being anxious. That is messed up.

I’m feeling playful today, so my writing may sound a little tongue-in-cheek. I set out trying to have a serious conversation about my anxiety and ended up sharing a few tidbits that really aren’t a huge deal in the grand scheme. I’m not trying to make light of the anxiety though. It is a major problem for me and can be absolutely deliberating for some. If I’m being honest, I am already getting anxious that someone might react negatively to this post. I think this is the good kind of anxious though – the kind that keeps me thoughtful and insightful.

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9 comments

  1. There is a difference, though, between a legitimate concern, a heightened interest that leads us to be careful and consider options, and anxiety. Worry and its friend anxiety are pretty fruitless; in fact, they distract us from our concentration and lead us to make poor, unreasoned decisions. It’s a fine line, but we need to cultivate concern without courting anxiety.

    1. Ah, but it is a vicious circle. Moments that call for legitimate concern only compound the situation for an anxiety sufferer. Suddenly, the anxiety feels based on fact and becomes even more difficult to rationalize.

  2. You may have said “frenemy” and “down low”… but at least you didn’t say “keep it on the QT.” I’m not sure that even has a viable meaning in English, other than the bare fact that people know it means “keep it quiet”.

    I can identify… very much. You’re not alone!

    Unless that makes you anxious, in which case you’re entirely alone. 🙂

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