Living with Anxiety
I've lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember, even as a child. I didn't know that not everyone felt this worrisome all the time. I didn't know how to explain it or even who to explain it to. I was painfully shy as a child due to generalized anxiety and the lack of self-confidence that comes along with it.
The anxiety symptoms seemed to increase with the birth of my second son, and then they intensified tenfold after my daughter was born a little over a year ago. I'm still working every day on recovery, on maintaining as much calm as I can muster on any given day. Every day is a battle with my own head. That voice that tells me I'll never be enough, do enough, or be worth enough to even bother trying... but I try anyway. I give it hell every single day. Some days it overpowers me and I end the day emotionally exhausted, ready to throw in the towel and just be done with it all. Other days, there's a fierce fighter in me that knows I'm tougher than the anxious thoughts and feelings of overwhelm.
I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to speak of one main source of this long-held anxiety, but another source that I can talk about is also the source of my perfectionist tendencies. Growing up, I received the message loud and clear (whether it was consciously intended that way or not) that I was only lovable if I was perfect. When I did all the right things, got the good grades, was nice to my siblings all the time, knew all the right things to do. Then, and only then, would I be worthy of love. That's the distinct message I got from more than one family member. It's just like the Alanis Morrissette song:
I now refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist, knowing now that their expectations of me weren't achievable anyway, and that I'm my own person, worthy of UNconditional love and respect from those closest to me, no matter what. I continue to work on improving my self-confidence and sense of self worth. And I blast this song in my car any chance I get, singing it at the top of my lungs... it's cathartic, healing, empowering.
One of my biggest wishes is to feel what it's like to be completely confident and self-assured, without a pang of worry, fear, doubt, or panic. Simply flowing with my intuition, knowing that I can trust myself to choose the right path ahead. I'd love to know what it feels like to live completely withOUT anxiety...
In the meantime, we've got a hoppin', happenin' little group going on over on Facebook. The Anxiety Support Group is our gathering place to vent, chat, offer and receive support, and discuss all things related to anxiety and methods to lessen its impact on our lives. If you're not already a member, stop by and join us!
Let me know if you can relate to the song lyrics or to having anxiety in general. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
A Reintroduction of Sorts
I've been out of the blogging world for the past couple of years. A surprise pregnancy and raising an infant kind of took over my whole life. I have a 14 month old daughter now, along with a 5 year old son and an almost 13 year old son. It's been a wild ride, adjusting to having 3 children - homeschooling, breastfeeding, working from home.
I've been through a year plus of postpartum anxiety, which is slowly getting better, though I still have some rough days. I'm very much an introverted person who requires alone time to recharge my people-batteries, but with 3 kids and a husband, along with work and extended family, it's darn near impossible to find but 10 minutes in a day to be alone. I'm learning to adjust and learning to deliberately carve out more time for solitude and silence, asking for help when needed, and knowing that just as soon as I'm able to get outside and stretch these runner legs more regularly, the pent-up anxious feelings will be easier to manage.
I also use meditation to deal with the overwhelm and anxiety. In future blog posts, I'll share some of the meditations I like best. Videos and audios containing binaural beats are also great tools that I've found helps me subtly reprogram my thoughts and drop down out of the sense of panic and feeling of being frozen in indecision or sensory overload.
This anxiety is honestly something I've lived with for as long as I can remember, but it seems to have grown more intense since the birth of my daughter. I feel like I'm in the process of shedding so much I've bottled up from the past, and it's hard and heavy work. I get occasional glimpses of the confident, self-assured person I have the potential to be, yet so far I've found it to be incredibly difficult to stay on that wavelength for very long at a time. I keep trying. Each day, facing the thoughts in my head that try to tear me down, voices from the past, the critical voice of perfectionism, the habit of trying to please everyone, and putting myself last out of guilt.
Slowly, but surely, I've started on a path toward creating time for self-care, making healthier choices, setting healthier boundaries, doing things that I love to do. Looking out for myself. It isn't selfish. It is necessary. I have to keep convincing myself of this. I must. I have a daughter now to set a better example for. I have two sons that look up to me as well.
This time, I haven't sought one-on-one therapy or any other medical treatment for this most recent battle with anxiety, I have in the past sought out and had decent success with speaking to someone on a one-on-one basis. I find that having a mentor, a counselor, or a coach of sorts is a really great way to help hold yourself accountable to your highest goals and potential, to help you process your emotions and feelings, to help you through healing. Never be afraid to reach out to someone when you're struggling. You're never alone, no matter what your thoughts try to tell you.
I look forward to staying in touch with you all via my blog once again. I've missed this. It's something else therapeutic that helps me process and handle the anxiety more effectively. What's something that helps you when you're feeling anxious? Let me know in the comments. You might help someone else with your suggestion!
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