Anxiety. Anxiety is a monster.
I thought I would write a little about what it’s like to live with chronic anxiety, both to maybe alleviate some of it for myself and perhaps to help someone else who needs to know they aren’t struggling with it alone.
People who don’t struggle with anxiety cannot know what it feels like. The amount of times I’ve been told, “well stop worrying,” or “chill out,” or “just stop thinking about it!” or any other similar phrase is far more than I could ever count. I’m always like, WOW THANKS! Why didn’t I think of that before?! I’m cured now!
It’s not that simple! I wish it was. What people don’t understand about anxiety, especially when you’re in a really bad funk, is it’s almost like a mythical hydra. Even if you manage to kill one head or one worry, there’s 6 more waiting in the wings.
Having anxiety is having a daily, sometimes momentary, battle to purge your brain of alarming, paranoid, toxic and damaging thoughts. On my worst days I have to consciously redirect every single thought away from me. Anxiety is intrusive. It can eat away at you. To be constantly on guard, trying to divert every negative thought and worry, is absolutely exhausting mentally and sometimes physically too.
Lately I started having a lot of stomach issues, in the form of gastritis and acid reflux, and I’ve done research on its ties to anxiety. Doctors sometimes refer to the gut as your “second brain” because it is so tied in to your hormonal levels. So when you’re stressed out, it’s very common to have stomach problems.
Of course, having anything wrong physically only increases my anxiety which then leads me to a vicious cycle. I’m stressed about being stressed which makes me sick which makes me more stressed.
Where does it end?
I’ve been trying so hard lately to get better. I’ve been to several doctors about various physical problems. I’ve been on and off Lexapro. I’m back in therapy (just beginning), and I’m even seeking out anxiety support group. I’m in a big transitional phase in my life, which I’m sure is doubly impacting everything I do, but it’s rough.
I want to get better. I want to be in control. Every day I take it one day at a time. I have some days that are really bad and others that are better. Everyone keeps telling me “you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do!” But then my anxiety whispers to me that my doctors have missed something, or I notice a weird bump, or something starts acting weird on my body that shouldn’t and the spiral starts all over again.
I’m not going to give up on getting it all under control but I felt like expressing it on here, where I know other people deal with similar issues, would help, at least a little bit.