I’ve suffered from anxiety since I was a kid, but I didn’t know what it was for a long time. In fact, it wasn’t until 5-6 years ago that I actually, personally, placed a name on all of my feelings. I self-diagnosed myself, sought out a few therapists and ultimately, I’m still here. Still occasionally suffering.
In grade school I was one of the last kids to be picked up on the way to school. This resulted in an entirely full bus of students sitting two to a seat, avoiding eye contact and hoping I (or any other student who got on after me) didn’t choose them to make their seat too stuffed with three elementary school kids. The seats weren’t build for three people, and often the third person on the end would have to sit sideways with their hand across the isle holding onto the seat on the other side of the bus so they didn’t slide right out. For at least a year I couldn’t eat breakfast in the morning because of the anxiety over getting on the bus.
In middle school and high school I couldn’t eat before concerts, or anything else that was in any way stressful or exciting. I still can’t eat if I’m traveling – at least not until I’m through security, know I have a very large chunk of time before my train comes, I’m on the road, etc.
I had insomnia for all of high school. I would go to bed at 10pm in order to wake up at 6am, and I wouldn’t fall asleep until 2am or later. My parents blamed this on my staying up late on the weekends, they blamed my sleeping in and always being tired on staying up late. Usually I wasn’t, not on purpose (but especially not on school nights). Later I would find out I have sleep apnea. That can cause insomnia. I’m not sure I had sleep apnea in high school, but it’s possible that’s why I could never fall asleep. It’s a breathing thing, you know. But so is anxiety. A breathing thing. A mind thing. And every thing.
Through the years anxiety has changed and affected me. Sometimes it was about dating, sometimes about jobs or friends. It’s always about food, health and money. Other things slip in there, I avoid the need for confrontation because my mind just stops working, and being confrontational doesn’t work when I cannot think of anything.
There are a few different ways that anxiety takes hold inside me. It’s either with heart-thudding, queasy-stomach I-have-no-appetite anxiety or the more common anxiety that I felt in my chest and in my throat. It convinced me to just keep on eating. Finish that pint of Cherry Garcia. Find a new bag of chips. Order an entire pizza and devour the whole thing. Then, what’s for dessert? Then when food wasn’t enough, when I started to have digestive issues from stuffing myself for so long, the spending issues got worse. It’s always been a flip between the two. Credit card. Full stomach. Both things I’ve never been able to budget, in spite of me logically knowing how.
I’ve spent nights frozen in my own thoughts, mad at myself for not being able to just act. It’s a circle that doesn’t end. And then it might pause for a little while before sneaking up on me. And suddenly I’m back to the sick feelings, frozen mind and just plain old tiredness. I’d like to say I’ve found some miracle something or other. I’ve tried herbal medications, prescription pills, not eating gluten (digestive issues, remember?), therapy amongst other things. Sure, there are times I may allow myself to take a bath and forget about the world for a bit. And if I allow myself to NOT do the things I need to do, for a while the feelings dissipate. But it doesn’t last. It never lasts. It comes back in full force when I look at my credit card statement, check my weight, or get back blood tests that remind me that, once again, my a1c levels are too high. Stress and anxiety makes your blood sugar higher, did you know that? It’s a never ending battle. And when I have the free time, I can’t seem to force myself to do the things I know I need to do, or that I know will benefit me. Yoga. Writing. Bubble baths. Forgetting. Remembering. Something. Something. I’m not quite sure what.